Donkeys and Badgers and Ostriches....oh my!
‘The usual places’ have their place, but on a Sunday afternoon last month we wanted something out of the ordinary, a hidden Kentish gem and a buried treasure. With the help of Google we found it; Badger Hill Farm and Cidery.
Hailing originally from the West Country, N's veins run yellow with cider, so the excitement was palpable;
‘We’re off to Badger Hill Farm and Cidery Nipper,’ Daddy whispered,
‘FARM!’ Nipper shouted with enthusiasm.
Farms had started to feature heavily in Nipper’s bedtime literature of late so the promise of ‘Baa’s’ ‘Moos’ and ‘Braying’ elicited further repeated shouts of ‘Let’s Go!’ and 'Pig poo!!!!' followed by an unusually quick passage from house to car.
Tracing A and B roads with our fingers we located Badger Hill Farm and Cidery close to the pretty village of Chilham.
Donkeys greeted the three of us as we parked up in the farm yard. Avoiding the water filled potholes, we skipped across the paths, passing pot bellied pigs in their sty’s and chickens who roamed free around the pots and barrels on sale in the courtyard.
We spent a happy half hour meandering around the tiny shop selling cider made on site, and picking our way through the courtyard chock full of more wind chimes than you could poke a stick at (and we did poke a stick at a couple, and knocked our heads on a few). In between the chimes we could hear the call of the wild from the fields behind the courtyard. Rounding the water butts and picnic tables we found a field of ostriches and a field of wallabies with ducks meandering between the two.
‘Big Bird!’ Nipper pointed at the big-eyed ostriches picking away at the grass and stretching their long nibble legs.
Badger Hill Farm passed the all-important scone-and- tea-test. We sampled flapjacks, scones and tea in the ‘cafe’ - essentially a battered old greenhouse home to a diverse collection of furniture and charming old highchairs. For a chilly spring day, the Greenhouse was surprisingly warm and snug and the trinkets hanging from every corner amused Nipper as she munched her way through her tea.
You couldn’t wish for a more unusual place to while away an hour. Some of the pots and barrels on sale look like they’ve been there for donkey’s years and many are broken and unloved, but following the chickens as they peck their way around them is a strangely romantic endeavour.
Nipper insisted on buying a bag of apples and carrots in the shop to take back to the donkeys who’d taken it upon themselves to guard our wheels in the car park. We fed them their reward and bid them farewell. As we clambered into the car to take the short drive to Chilham, the sun threw prisms of light through the raindrops and the donkeys brayed to us to return soon.
*First appeared in Kent Life in 2012*