Friday 12 May 2017

Review: Middle Farm, Near Lewes, East Sussex

The other Saturday as we awoke the sun was shining and we decided it would be a shame to waste it so we headed over to Middle Farm, near Lewes. We've popped in the tea room before (and not been impressed if I am honest) but at just £5 each entry (for children over 3 years and adults) to the actual farm we didn't think there was too much to lose and friends had said they'd enjoyed time there before.
Middle Farm is a 625 acre working farm. It has been in the Pile family for 50 years and they are proud of their high quality produce. It is really heart warming to read the history and learn that the family have innovated and pulled together in all sorts of ways to make Middle Farm what it is today.

Plenty of room for everyone 
As we arrived, we were surprised to see just how busy the overflow car park was and we started to worry that we had made a mistake and the place would be rammed. We needn't have worried though as there is loads of space within the farm and we got to see everything we wanted to and there wasn't long waits for the animal petting or play park equipment.

Explore at your leisure 
You don't get a map on entry to the farm but it is small enough that you can just explore and see where your feet take you. There was a big sign up as we entered advising us when the day's events were - lamb feeding, pig feeding, animal petting, cue milking etc. These were well spread within the day and whatever time you arrive I'm sure you'd get to see or take part in something.

We arrived about 12.40pm and headed straight in to see the pregnant ewes and new born lambs. They were of course super cute and you can pet the lambs. Miss E was happy to spend ages in her trying out her photography skills and getting cute snaps of the animals. At 1pm it was small animal petting time. This basically consisted of holding a couple of different guinea pigs as the rabbits were in quarantine. This was enough to keep our 9 year old's happy as the queue were just a couple of minutes long and you could also see hens, mice and newly hatched chicks too.

Next we took a leisurely walk around the animal pens and got to see loads more sheep, lamas, donkeys, a Shetland pony, pigs, boar and piglets. We could have gone across the field following the farm trail but choose not to as we live in the countryside amongst fields so it wasn't really a novelty for us.

Milking the cows is a great sight 
I'm glad we didn't though as we walked back into the main part of the farm the farmer came along to shut the gates as he was bringing the cows in for milking. It was fab to watch a couple of hundred prize-winning jersey cows wander past from the field to the milking shed. We couldn't believe how full their udders were and I bet they were delivered to be fed and milked.

Whilst we waited for the milking shed to be open for us to see the amazing machinery I action the girls had a play in the hay barn. The concept is so simple but they had the best fun, jumping up and over all the hay bales. There was avenues to crawl through and holes to jump down and it was all compacted so it was safe for the kids. The one thing to note is that they did come over covered in straw and I've been finding bits in my house ever since!

It was educational for the kids to be able to watch the farmer prepare the cows for milking and see the machines at work. Then afterwards we had a look at many different kinds of chickens and some super cute piglets.

Time for a cuppa 
After a good play in the parks (there are two) we were ready to head into Lewis for a coffee and a wander around this beautiful town. We could have had coffee at Middle Farm but as I mentioned, we went once before and the staff were very inattentive and literally chucked us out at closing time. It could be that we just had a bad experience as it was late in the day and all the staff were teenagers who obviously wanted to get home.

It's a shame though as the restaurant itself looks very cosy, with its log burner for colder days and there is a nice courtyard area for warmer weather. The website says they pride themselves on locally sourced home cooked food and they have award winning scones, so maybe we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and try again another time. I see there is also free Wi-Fi in the restaurant too.

Shopping at Middle Farm 
There are some very nice shops on site at Middle Farm. As you access the farm you go through the toy and gift shop, which is lovely but is also a little pricey. They have some fabulous bits for the home and nice gift ideas, as well as quality wooden toys. There is also a large plant centre, cider shop and farm shop with food and drink. There are loads of locally made products which are delicious and very tempting.

Facilities on site 
  • Whilst at the farm we used two different sets of toilets and both had enough paper, soap etc but they were both pretty grotty as one was a portaloo and the other a prefab that needs redecoration. 
  • There was plenty of hand washing stations with soap and towels available to ensure everyone was practising good hygiene around the animals. 
  • There a a nice outdoor picnic area with bench seating and plenty of room for picnic blankets, it is close to both play parks so the kids can have fun whilst the adults chat. 
Essential information 
  • The open farm entry cost is £5 for 3 years and over. Free for under 3's. 
  • An annual ticket is available for £40 per adult or child 
  • Open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day. Please check the website for times as it changes in Winter. Currently it is 9.30am - 5.30pm and last entry is an hour before closing. 
  • Middle Farm is situated on the A27 just 4 miles east of Lewis and 7 miles west of Eastbourne. It is very easy to find by car and if your sat nav tells you to turn off the A27 into the village of Firle just ignore it, as the farm is on the A27. 
  • You can access Middle Farm by public transport, take a look at their webpages for info. Tel 01323 811411 

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Disclosure: There is nothing to disclose as we paid for our visit to the farm but I just like to share my honest experience.
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