A few weeks ago my anxiety had rocketed sky high and I was in desperate need of somewhere to relax. I had been feeling a huge, unexplainable pull deep inside of me that told me I needed to be with animals and in the countryside.
Always one to listen to my intuition, I became relentless in my search of a farm that could accommodate my needs, and that’s when I discovered Longdown Activity Farm in Southampton.
Farm therapy, in my opinion, is hugely under-appreciated for its natural therapeutic benefits for people suffering with symptoms relating to anxiety and depression. There are huge benefits when connecting with nature in this way especially where there is contact with animals but its not always the first thing people think of when relieving their symptoms. I’m guilty of this.
I’ve always loved animals, I adore my two cats and always wish for another dog after losing my own a few years back. I spent most of my childhood playing in fields and large open spaces as Suffolk is largely agricultural and even had a lamb birthing birthday party – yes, me and a bus load of my 7 year old friends went to help a bunch of sheep give birth. It was amazing!
But since the hustle and bustle of London life became increasingly wearing, not once in my seven year struggle with my mental health did I think ‘I need to go to a farm’. Until I listened to myself for once and realised it was exactly what I needed.
Longdown Activity farm is the perfect place to go during the week in late afternoons as it’s typically quieter during this time. If you are easily overwhelmed by new experiences and busy places I highly recommend visiting the farm in off-peak hours so you can take your time and enjoy the experience more.
The first animals you come across are these guys above. They are massive. I almost hurled myself over to get a stroke of their wirey textured hair – so adorable but I will say, I’ve never smelt anything quite like it. The poor loves absolutely stink! Weirdly, you get used to it and begin to enjoy it a bit but I totally didn’t appreciate how pongy pigs actually are.
As your senses have now been well and truly opened by the wonderful pigsty, you walk along to the where these guys are eagerly awaiting their dinner…
Seriously though, how cute are they! I fell head over heels in love with these guys and could not get enough of them. Before I knew it – anxiety was a distant memory and I was well and truly immersed in the moment with these gorgeous creatures. The lovely staff members came over to ask if we wanted to help feed them their milk bottles and that was it, coat and bag went down – and we became team milk cart!
They were absolutely loving it and couldn’t get the milk down quick enough. Soon enough, we were reloading for a second feed. At this point, I didn’t even mind the masses of dribble oozing from there little chops – I can honestly say this was one of the most enjoyable, fulfilling and heartwarming experiences you can ever have and we were so grateful to be able to join in and help the staff feed them.
After a few snaps, cuddles and feeds later we were off to see the next cute family on the farm, the piglets! *Omg stop, I just can’t, their little tails? Argh LOOK AT THEM!!!!!*
Cuteness overload. If you sing at them, all of their tails wag at the same time and they stop when you stop. Not sure why I decided to sing at the piglets but at the time, this place was making me feel like some undiscovered disney princess so – it was only right to try and snow white my way to their tiny little hearts. I’d also like to add that by humming the mouse song from Babe the Movie is an absolute must when enhancing the piglet experience. Argh. They were so cute. I wished we could have held them – I’m not sure if that’s a thing but it totally should be – an adult calm club where you sit round in a circle holding piglets and talk about your troubles. Longdown – lets do this!
Just when we thought the farm couldn’t be any more soul fulfilling we discovered these guys …
I’m going to try and refrain from using the word cute anymore but this photograph doesn’t even cover it. Imagine walking into a room of singing baby goats. All screaming, laughing and chatting the moment you walk into their nursery. The sounds are overwhelming (in a good way) and you could easily spend an hour greeting them all as they jump up on the gate to nibble your jacket and fight each other for your attention and love.
You feel a real connection with these guys and for me, the most anxiety relieving part of the whole farm experience was in here. I recently saw the viral video of Goat Yoga and completely get why the woman created that. If I had all of these baby goats (kids) I’d be doing that everyday too!
All in all the entire Longdown farm experience was amazing. I highly recommend you get down to your local farm (if this one is too far for you) and take some much needed time out to just chill with the incredible farm life.
Research around the benefits of being at one with animals, nature and green space is becoming more and more prevalent and in our busy city lives, its imperative you take this type of time out to benefit your own wellbeing.
There’s plenty to do at Longdown Activity Farm and a really wonderful place to take children. Where mental ill-health is concerned, prevention is really key – so if you have little ones – ensure you make time to take them to the farm as often as you can. With both indoor and outdoor play (we enjoyed jumping around in the hay) your children/class/community group can take full advantage of the following;
Soft Play Area.
Climbing frame, slide, soft play, and a seating area for adults to supervise their charges in comfort.
Bouncy fun for all ages on our trampolines. All our trampolines are fitted with a safety net.
Sand Pit and Infants’ Playroom.
Digging fun for smaller children, plus a range of interactive tables and wall mounted activities especially designed for toddlers.
The Farmer’s Straw Den.
Lots and lots of straw bales to run on, and jump off!
Outdoor Play Area.
A climbing frame, slide, swings, and lots of grass for ball games and running
off energy. Everyone will enjoy a game of ping pong too!
Go-karts and Ride-on Tractors.
Pedal go-karts, ride-ons for toddlers and fun diggers (£1 a go).
Below are the times (everyday) for feeding the animals
There is lots going on at Longdown Activity Farm on most days and even more during summer holidays and half terms. You can check the website here for full details on what’s on to make sure you don’t miss out on anything and for those who love some local produce, their farm shop is a must go-to. We missed the tea-room but there is one on site and we were really impressed with the farms accessibility and disabled toilet/changing facility too.
All in all this is a wonderful experience for you, your family and friends. The space at the back of the farm overlooking the beautiful greenland is the perfect picnic spot and overlooks the horses and the llamas (all of which were total divas).
Tickets are available slightly cheaper from their online site and start at £8.33 for adults (online discount included in this price) and £7.43 per child. A family ticket will cost you £27.90. All tickets are available for purchase here. Please also note that only paper printed copies of your tickets will be accepted, for those of you who are super digital, its worth remembering digital tickets/showing your ticket on your phone won’t be accepted.
I’ll leave you with a photograph of my anxiety free self enjoying a rare moment of complete and utter bliss. Farm therapy is replacing my desire to stay in on the sofa with Netflix. I urge you to get out, get to the farm and chill with the animals, I found my happy place there – I know you’ll find yours there too! X
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