Like a school trip from our youth, without the kid at the back of the bus throwing up.
On a beautiful September morning, Girl Gamers UK were whisked away to Surrey Docks Farm in the centre of London for a special press event for the games Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon and Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar coming to the Nintendo DS on the 30th September. Girl Gamers UK were given the delightful opportunity to see the comparisons of playing a farm simulation RPG on the handheld system and contemplate what life is like living on a working farm on a day to day basis.
Surrey Docks Farm is situated on the Southbank of the River Thames in Rotherhithe and is overlooked by Canary Wharf. It’s 2.2 acre site is home to the most beautiful and much loved farmyard animals, who are cared for around the clock by the local farmhands and volunteers. The farm works with the local communities to inform the public about local produce and familiarize and raise awareness of farming to nearby residents. As you know, if you’ve lived in the city it’s not always easy to visit the countryside and farms due to them being so far away, so taking a stroll down to Surrey Docks Farm seems the most rewarding choice. It’s close enough for local trains and undergrounds and is a stone throw away from the Thames. It’s a very picturesque and relaxing place to visit if you want to see some adorable farmyard animals.
We arrived a little behind schedule due to travel, but once we had, we were met with an abundance of cute and fluffy animals. During our comfortable stroll around the farm, we came across some cages with some ferrets in, who were peaking from behind a water container looking very innocent.
I’ve never held a ferret before, so this was a first chance to bury those fears as the local farm worker carefully picked up a ferret and placed it in my arms. At first, the ferret seemed nervous but before long it was racing around my neck and nibbling at the pockets of my shirt.
They certainly shift very quickly, but the experience was fun as I tried cautiously to hand it back to the farm hand. A few times the ferret checked out the microphone and camera, but I think it got a little camera shy with all the attention it was receiving from the other journalists.
Taking in all the sights and sounds of the farm, we headed to a few hutches that were filled with rabbits. Now, these were seriously large rabbits with humongous floppy ears, they didn’t even want to contemplate coming out of their comfortable homes even with the slight tease of a nearby carrot on offer. Opposite the rabbits, stood a huge pen which was home to a massive Sow and her excitable little piglets. At first I didn’t think they would come out, but once one pushed his way through, the others followed suit. Before long, I was surrounded by cute bright pink piglets and their happy curly wurly tails. They didn’t need much persuasion to have their bellies rubbed and they enjoyed running after each other.
After a while we headed over to the Geese who, let’s be honest, are seriously loud. They moved around together making their presence felt by domineering anyone that got remotely close. But if you tread quietly enough, and don’t show any real fear, they were actually quite gentle. I managed to get a few moments with them as they hurried back into their pen.
Surrey Docks Farm is filled with pleasant green land that stretches out and is home to the beautiful black miniature pony that had been rescued by the farm. It grazes quite happily alone, but not too far away are two very cute donkeys that keep it company. Visitors and children have the opportunity to ride them and enjoy feeling close to these animals. Surrey Docks Farm allows the local community and residents to feel a part of natural farm. The local farm hands told us that they are a very natural farm and do not use any chemicals or anything artificial.
After stroking the pony and checking out the donkeys, we headed over to the main farmyard court which housed many goats and sheep in the outside area.
Here you can grab some special food to get up close and personal with the animals and feed them yourself. Some will be greedier than others, as one goat decided he wasn’t patient enough for me to take the food out of the paper bag. With both legs he propped himself up against me, nibbled my shirt and made off with the bag. I couldn’t stop laughing, it was so hilarious.
The goats are cute, but our attention turned towards a baby sheep called ‘Bo’, who was very shy and wanted her mum. Bo had massive amounts of wool on her head and was absolutely gorgeous.
I would have happily taken Bo home. Bo wandered quite happily around the courtyard, while a group of particularly curious chickens made their best attempts to annoy her. Can they give chickens ASBOs?
The farm workers here on the farm do an incredible amount of work and invest a great amount of loveand time trying to keep the farm the best in the community. They spend extensive time not only caring after the animals and land, but also harvesting crops and providing educational and environmental activities throughout the year. Looking after a farm is hard work and they get up at the crack of dawn to start their duties such as milking, cleaning and feeding all the farmyard animals. It’s not an easy job to do, but I got the impression they find it very rewarding.
Surrey Docks Farm also has their very own horticultural areas, where they have their own orchard with a dye garden, herb garden and vegetable plots to harvest throughout the year.
Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar and Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon can both give gamers a taste of what it is like to run a farm and look after animals. Of course, the similarities are only in a virtual sense. Just like a real farm, players must have their character get up early and tend to their animals, plant seeds, water and harvest crops, all to make some money so that their farm can be maintained and expanded. But, unlike a real farm, playing Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar or Rune Factory 3: A Fantasy Harvest Moon will not see the player getting wet and muddy, working from dawn till dusk in all weather or having to deal with an unruly gang of chickens. But, on the plus side, at least there are no monsters on Surry Docks Farm, unlike Rune Factory 3.
Surrey Docks Farm relies on local residents to help with donations and support for the upkeep of the animals and maintenance of the farm. There are no days off on a real world farm, as there is always something else that needs to be done. Playing on the DS, you can always turn it off and relax.