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City kids can experience nature up close at Brooksville farm

From left, Jelissa Perez, 6, Tabitha Todd, 12, and Paige Gifford, 11, feed goats at the Golden Rainbow Ranch during a Big Brothers Big Sisters trip. A family fun day will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the ranch.

LANCE A. ROTHSTEIN | Times (2008)

From left, Jelissa Perez, 6, Tabitha Todd, 12, and Paige Gifford, 11, feed goats at the Golden Rainbow Ranch during a Big Brothers Big Sisters trip. A family fun day will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the ranch.

BROOKSVILLE — Aiming to acquaint children, and their parents, with America's agricultural roots, Golden Rainbow Ranch north of Brooksville will host Family Farm Fun Day from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

The licensed nonprofit organization, dedicated to offering outdoor experiences for urban and suburban youngsters, wants to introduce up-close-and-personal contact with nature and domesticated animals to those who haven't had the opportunity.

Attendees will be offered petting, feeding and grooming encounters with horses, goats, beef cattle, a pot-bellied pig and poultry, plus hay rides on a tractor-pulled wagon and an egg hunt — not of the Easter variety but of the produce of "chickens who lay all over the place," explained Ali Baylor, who owns the ranch with her husband, David Baylor.

Also, visitors will be allowed to gently handle newly hatched chicks, learn how to put a chicken to sleep and milk a goat if the nanny is providing.

Among the activities in the ranch's nature facility will be concocting peanut butter-filled pinecones for bird feeding, and assembling "farm frames" of such notions as bird feathers, pebbles and bones.

Bones will be featured in another hands-on activity for those so inclined, rummaging in a mock dig for skeletal remains of deer and cattle that Ali Baylor buried. Another site will offer, for ardent pursuers, pottery shards and bits of glass that Baylor was permitted to remove from her amateur digs in the ancient city of Sepphoris, Israel.

Joining in sponsoring the Fun Day is First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, whose youth club will perform a sight and sound dramatization at twilight of the song Set Me Free. The day's hours have been set to allow a showcasing of the production that features sparkling lights and the fog of dry ice to augment the performance.

The church youth group became acquainted with Golden Rainbow Ranch when its members visited for a farm encounter. They helped to raise the number to some 1,000 over the last year who took advantage of the ranch offerings. The visitors, mostly for half-day experiences, have included Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters groups, disabled and special-needs children, and others.

Admission to the Fun Day is $15 per vehicle, the proceeds to be split equally between the nonprofit ranch and the church group; the latter is raising money for a mission trip.

Golden Rainbow Ranch, at 14412 Snow Memorial Highway, recently was accorded a $3,500 grant from the Community Foundation of Hernando County to hold a week-long camp this summer for autistic children and mentoring peers. Details will be forthcoming, Baylor said.

For information, call the Baylors at (352) 799-5425 or visit goldenrainbowranch.org.

Beth Gray can be reached at graybethn@ earthlink.net.

City kids can experience nature up close at Brooksville farm 04/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 29, 2010 5:54pm]
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