R esidents at two Lymington care homes have gone ‘down on the farm’ without leaving the sunny comfort of their gardens.
Family-owned Colten Care arranged for a special collection of farm animals, including lambs, pigs and goats, to visit Belmore Lodge and Linden House.
Residents stroked and played with the visitors brought along by the Alton-based Mill Cottage Farm Experience.
For Joan Connolly and Mary Malcolm, who both live at Belmore Lodge, it was a chance to rekindle memories of their own farming backgrounds.
Joan, who was brought up on a farm at Salcombe in Devon, was delighted to cradle five-week-old Larry the lamb of the Poll Dorset breed.
“I always used to do the lambing,” recalled Joan. “It was a lovely time. I’m never happier than when I am with animals like this. There is something so peaceful about them.”
Wiltshire-born Mary originally worked on her father’s farm, Swinesley’s at Beaulieu, before she and her late husband Gilbert took over Clobb Farm at Bucklers Hard. As well as managing a pedigree Guernsey cattle herd, she rode and bred several New Forest ponies and occasionally bigger horses.
Stroking Sebastian, a one-year-old donkey, Mary said: “This brings back some happy memories although life on the farm can be very hard work too.”
As well as Larry and Sebastian, the animal visitors included turkeys, chickens, goats, ducklings, chickens, dogs, guinea pigs and rabbits.
Colten Care Activities Organiser Jackie Fergusson said: “The residents loved interacting with the animals and it really was a case of meeting all creatures great and small. There were smiles all round.”
Belmore Lodge’s ‘farm experience’ day also featured the Romsey-based folk band Innominata and, from Southampton, the Sally Stompers Line Dancers.
Plants grown by a residents’ gardening club were sold to visitors who popped in for the day. Proceeds will go to the home’s nominated charity for this year, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance.
The Mill Cottage Farm Experience specialises in educational and recreational animal visits to care homes, schools and other venues.
As well as Belmore Lodge and Linden House, Mill Cottage animals have made recent visits to Colten Care homes in Winchester, Brockenhurst and Salisbury.