It’s 2:45 on Tuesday afternoon, a treasured day for my twoyear-old daughter, Emerson, and me. Just after the bridge heading north out of Campbell River, we turn left onto Park Road, take the first right on to Ida Road and, nestled there in the back, we see a hand-painted sign at the end of the driveway reading “Welcome to Holly Hill Farm.”
The chatter in my backseat picks up.
“BUNNY, BUNNY, BUNNY!”
Emerson’s legs start kicking. Her screams of excitement carry us into the parking lot and up to the gate.
The fun during Tot Farming truly begins before we enter the gate. Em always has to stop at the rubber toy racetrack that greets us at the entrance.
Upon entry, we are met by a flock of curious chickens, Goosey the gosling, and baby bunnies snuggled up in a barrel.
Looking around, babes and their guardians wander freely across the land at their own pace, curiosity and excitement propelling them across the fields. We are encouraged to get in with the animals, which both Em and I really love. Snuggling with baby animals is cathartic for kids and adults alike.
The bunny hutch and wooden barrels house baby bunnies waiting to be held. Toddlers perch around on strategically placed stumps. They take turns petting and holding them, increasing the cute scale beyond what I knew possible.
Mama sheep and their lambs graze in the field, enjoying the pats and curious stares of visitors as they wander past. Their level of trust is admirable, their fleece so soft and perfect for snuggles.
Chickens of various colours, breeds, and sizes peck the ground at leisure, and baby chicks are often found chirping in one of the barrels nearby. More stumps adorn this space again, inviting a place to sit and interact with the animals. There are looks of wonderment and excitement being exchanged amid shrieks and giggles.
We carry on and soon meet up with Kit, the quarter horse, a gentle giant and longtime resident of the farm who appreciates a handful of hay and the offering of nose rubs.
Alpacas and donkeys graze nearby, and salamanders from the pond create great excitement and conversation for all of us passing by.
And finally, if we didn’t catch them on the way in, we visit Campbell River’s very own goats on a roof. We offer them some neck scratches and hay, and find ourselves a new best buddy for life.
Though almost impossible to pick a favourite in this crowd, the adolescent silkies, or “Kickens”—as Emerson exclaims excitedly while running towards them—hold a special place in our hearts and have become a regular topic of conversation in our home. When I ask Em a question, even completely unrelated to the farm, she often answers with “KICKEN! Uggie?!” Meaning she wants to see the chickens and pick them up.
After a few passes around the field, we’re ready for Circle Time. Friends and family come together around the wagon, claim their stumps, and gather for stories, sing-a-longs, and more baby animals. Goosey the gosling and his sidekick, Dolly the lamb, take their place up front to co-lead.
As Circle Time wraps up, final laps are taken around the field. Favourite friends are visited again, and the session slowly comes to an end.
Holly Hill is a true gem in the heart of our Island. Tot Farming is one special offering of many in our community provided by this family-run farm. It’s an honour to have our generation be a part of the continuation of this family’s story. What began as an opportunity to spend time together for Em and me has evolved into a space of hands-on learning, growth, and the creation of cherished memories to last us a lifetime.