Pig peeking through the fence

Most parents of young children in Ottawa know about Valleyview Little Animal Farm. Like Saunders Farm and the Central Experimental Farm, this is one of the top places to bring young kids for a farm outing. So when I pulled up to the farm on a sunny autumn day – all by myself – I was feeling a bit awkward. After buying my single admission ticket (“Just you? Are you sure?”), I thought I’d make a quick tour of the place: say hi to the animals, check out the children’s play area, take some pictures, and then be on my way.

That was before I knew about Bill’s Old Farm Museum, a hidden gem that makes Valleyview Little Animal Farm one of the top agritourism destinations in the Ottawa region – not just for kids, but for adults too.

Bill’s Old Farm Museum is a collection of restored farm machinery spread out over five barns. All the machinery works, and was lovingly restored by the late Bill Mowat, father of the current farm owner, Heather Brophy. The collection used to be open to the public only on special occasions, but is now open for self-guided tours whenever the farm itself is open.

Within the barns, you’ll find an incredible collection of tractors, steam engines, horse-drawn farm implements, and other antique farm equipment. There are also plenty of farm and household tools that provide insight into life on the farm. My personal favourite is the dog treadmill that was used to power the “kitchen appliances” such as the butter churn and the washing machine. Apparently, it took a 40 pound dog to operate it (and probably a lot of treats! )

The museum reminds me of the Museum of Appalachia in Tennessee, another privately funded historical treasure that grew out of one man’s passion for preserving the past. Bill’s Old Farm Museum is certainly one of the best agricultural collections that I’ve seen in Canada.

Besides the museum, Valleyview Little Animal Farm offers a host of other farm activities. Follow the Country Walk, and you can get up close to ducks, cows, horses, llamas, sheep, and other farm animals. Along the way, have a look at the large grain elevators that are part of the family business. Then head to the children’s play area, which is filled with wooden play structures, including a pirate ship, truck, and small sugar shack. If you’re there in the autumn, you can also enjoy a corn maze beside the play area.

Bring a few quarters, and you can feed the goats and other animals in the Little Animal Barn. This is also where you’ll find the spring babies. Next to the Little Animal Barn, you’ll find the main building, with washrooms, a covered picnic area, and an inviting cafĂ© and gift shop.

Depending on the time of your visit, there may be additional activities, such as the Valleyview Express mini-train, which provides a tour of the farm’s crops and forest. There are also many seasonal activities, including an egg hunt at Easter, sheep shearing on Victoria Day, and pumpkin painting on the last weekend of October.

Valleyview Little Animal Farm is a great destination for both adults and children. Even if you don’t go with children, I highly recommend it, especially Bill’s Old Farm Museum, which is a historical treasure for our region.

Location: 4750 Fallowfield Rd., Nepean

Phone Number: (613) 591-1126

Web site: http://www.vvlittleanimalfarm.com

Reservations: Not required, except for group tours and birthday party room bookings

Hours: Mid-April to Oct. 31, Tuesday to Sunday, closed Mondays except holiday Mondays

Cost: $8 per person, 2 and under free