Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Old McMicky's Farm is back in business in Odessa


Tyler Quinn scooped up a chicken and cradled it in his arms. • "It's like mine is taking a nap," he told his classmates as he gave the bird a kiss on the head. • Then, because he is 5, Tyler thrust the chicken, beak first, into another boy's face. • "Bwowk, bwowk, bwooowk," he mimicked. • Maybe it's time to move on to the baby goats, a volunteer suggested. A dozen giddy kindergarteners fled the coop, leaving behind a flock of dazed birds in their wake. • Welcome to Old McMicky's Farm. Closed for several years, the decades-old favorite destination of children across Tampa Bay is open again. And the animals are ready.

Nestled on several acres of Camp Keystone in northwestern Hillsborough County, the farm features more than 60 animals, a scenic setting and a restored barn for events.

"Today is such a fast-paced society that I wanted to create something where families can come and have a great time in more of an old-fashioned way," said owner Ralph Zuckerman, 53, of Palm Harbor.

Opened in 1991, Old McMicky's Farm went up for sale in 2006. Zuckerman, a home builder, bought the land with plans to build houses on it.

Instead, he waited.

"For several years I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it," he said. "Then I decided I wanted to give back to the Tampa Bay area."

Still, it took two more years to whip the farm back into shape.

"It was very rundown," Zuckerman said. "Most of what you see here is new."

Camp Keystone, which opened in 1946 and once served as a popular summer sleep-away camp, is still there, but is only available for private rentals and corporate picnics.

Last week, kindergarten and first-grade students, including Tyler, from Oakstead Elementary in Land O'Lakes, gave the farm a test run before it officially opened to the public.

"It's a good place for the kids to learn how farmers support our lives and the role animals play," said Tyler's dad, Michael Quinn, who tagged along on the 2 1/2-hour field trip.

And there's plenty to do.

At the milking station, kids not only learn about milking a cow but have a chance to do it themselves. Next door is the baby barn, filled with the farm's youngest residents. Above it, a loft maze provides an outlet for the seemingly endless energy of visiting children.

In the rabbit pen, a dozen little hands descend upon two soft bunnies. A visit to the baby pygmy goats next door elicited shrieks of delight and several "it's eating my hair!" squeals.

And at the pony station, everyone got a chance to ride a pony.

"It's great to see the amazement on their faces," Zuckerman said. "Most of these kids have never held a chicken, and you can see their faces light up. They are learning to have an appreciation for animals."

Along the way, guides provide details on the animals and how they are cared for. Many of the same people who worked at the farm before it closed in 2006 have joined the team again, Zuckerman said.

In an effort to give back to the community, Zuckerman introduced a program called 1,000 kids.

"We want to bring 1,000 kids who are facing any type of challenge, whether it is a physical, health or mental challenge," Zuckerman said. "Bring them out for an amazing day on the farm at no charge."

Zuckerman has reached out to several area nonprofit groups and is open to working with others, including wounded veterans.

"The farm is very peaceful," Zuckerman said. "It's very healing."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Shelley Rossetter can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

. if you go

Old McMicky's Farm is

at 9612 Crescent Drive, Odessa. Opens at 9 a.m. seven days a week. The last tour leaves at 1 p.m.

Prices are $11 for adults, $9 for children ages 2 to 12, free for children under 2. Senior citizens, military members and emergency service employees get in for $9.

Group and field trip pricing is available.

For information, call

(813) 920-1948 or go to

Old McMicky's Farm is back in business in Odessa 05/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 2:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mikhail Sergachev begins real Lightning audition vs. Carolina Hurricanes

    Lightning Strikes

    RALEIGH, N.C. — The spotlight will remain on Mikhail Sergachev throughout the Lightning preseason.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) on the ice during hockey training camp in preparation for the 2017-2018 season in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  2. Tampa police search for man in connection to Sunday killing (w/ video)


    TAMPA — Police released surveillance video of a man they believe might have information about a Sunday morning fatal shooting.

  3. Pinellas announces Hurricane Irma make-up day


    The Pinellas County school district has announced how it will make up one of the seven school days missed by Hurricane Irma.

    Residents make their way into Joseph L. Carwise Middle School to shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017 in Palm Harbor. The storm is forecasted to affect the Tampa Bay area overnight with winds subsiding Monday.
  4. Hooper: Hillsborough marks 100th anniversary of historic photo collection


    Everyone ends up with a favorite.

    Or two or three or 10.

    Rest assured, no one who adores Tampa Bay, appreciates art or cherishes history can explore the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection without storing at least one snapshot in the mental scrapbook.

    Part of the Burgert Brothers collection now featured through the Hillsborough Public Library shows a beer garden on Central Avenue in Tampa from July 1942. [Burgert Brothers collection]
  5. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and violated its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]