It’s real. A peaceful little 7 acre farm in the in the middle of a city with a population of almost 3 million. A working farm, with woolly sheep and stacked bales of straw. Who wouldn’t want to visit this place? Riverdale Farm is located in the cabbage town neighborhood in downtown Toronto – just a 10 minute walk from a streetcar stop- but I’ve been constantly surprised by how many locals are aware of it’s existence.
The farm site was originally a small zoo, but since the 1970’s it has functioned as a small historic working farm. On a cold winter morning over the Christmas holidays we bundled up early in the morning and paid a visit to the animals, and it really felt like we had been magically transported to a place in the countryside.
The farm was really quiet, but I imagine in the summer it’s a busier place. The summer season would have the benefit of not only of seeing more animals around the farm, but also the opportunity to enjoy the various gardens on site. During our visit there were no pigs, donkeys or cows to be found, although I know that usually they can be found at the farm in the warmer months. Still, there were plenty of farm animals to enjoy. The horses were outside in the paddock anxious for their breakfast, and the Nubian goats were already diving headfirst into their morning serving of hay. Neck deep. It must have been exceptionally yummy hay!
There may not have been any pigs in Pig and Poultry Barn, but the chickens were pretty entertaining. Most of them acting like silly little charmers and seemingly happy to have some visitors to cluck at. The turkey however, was much less impressed with our visit and basically told us to get out of his face. GOBBLE! Yeah, kind of an intimidating creature.
We crunched around in the snow to explore the grounds, seeing fat squirrels and gray Juncos enjoying seed from the various feeders. I’m not normally a fan of being outside in frosty weather, but I loved the quaint atmosphere on the farm yard. The old brick buildings, the little waterfall and ice covered ponds. Everything looks perfectly oldtimey, but only a few of the buildings are original to the site – like the Island House and the ruins of the old Donnybrook tower. The Francy barn – where we visited the Nubian goats and sweet faced sheep – was actually built in 1858, and transported to the farm site in 1977 after it was donated to the city .
It may have a chilly morning, but the farm was a very cozy place. There is just something about the hanging tack, the heavy wooden barn doors and the smell of the straw that gave me a warm feeling inside. I’ve never lived on a farm, but it was fun to pretend on that cold holiday morning.