Getting places early can sometimes lead to amazing discoveries!
This was the case this past July 4th weekend. My wife’s mother, stepfather, and younger brother live in Amherst, Massachusetts, and on this recent visit the family and I found ourselves needing to kill about an hour before my in-laws were home from work. We’ve been travelling up there as a couple for about 10 years now, (well before we had kids) and my wife always loves to show me some of her old stomping grounds. She lived there for a couple years, even attending U-Mass for a few semesters.
There are five large colleges right there in the Pioneer Valley all within a few miles from each other; U-Mass, Amherst College, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire College, which of course, means many places to hang out, and many many food options!
On this particular afternoon, we were just finishing our three hour road trip up from Long Island, and needed to stretch our feet, refresh, and fill our bellies with a quick snack. Every time we go to Amherst, there are always 3-4 new restaurants, (mostly chain restaurants), and we always enjoy trying new places, but could sense the kids needed something fun, fast, and a little bit adventurous. Ice cream seemed like the perfect idea! There’s a Friendly’s in town, and a few frozen yogurt places in one of the countless strip malls.
My wife had always heard rumor of a farm that makes home made ice cream, but in all the years she lived there and we’ve visited, never really checked into the validity of the rumor. This time though, she made a few quick calls, and before we knew it we were setting a course for Flayvors of Cook Farm.
Amherst and the town of Hadley, are very built up along Route 9, with just about every chain store you could imagine. The most fascinating part though, is once you make any turn off that main road. Within 30 seconds you are in farmland as far as the eye can see. Take out the mountains in the distance, and you could very well be in America’s heartlands.
We headed down one of these country roads, for what seemed like 10 miles, trying to figure out if we were lost or this place really did not exist. There, after another few minutes, the sign appeared. Rejoice! The kids cheered, and Mom and Dad were just as thrilled (but more so, relieved.)
This place was amazing! It was a working farm, with cows, goats, sheep, chickens, and turkeys! The chickens, as you’ll see below, were even roaming free.
Walking in, we discovered that this particular farm has been family owned by the same family for over 100 years. About 15 years ago, they decided to open an ice cream shop and restaurant. They had about 25 flavors on a big board, and choosing was very very hard. All flavors, or “flayvors” as they call them, are made on site with milk from the cows right there on the farm. Scary? Or very cool? They even have a special for furry friends! One scoop of ice cream, with a dog treat on top!
My two year old settled on cookies and cream, and my five year old on cookie dough. With ice cream in hand, we went out back to sit outside, and this was the most amazing part. The picnic tables were right up against the animal pens. At first it seemed odd, but we quickly grew to love it, and my kids were beyond excited to watch the animals walking by.
Needless to say, the ice cream was delicious! I’ve always been partial to French vanilla, and my wife almost always goes for mint chocolate chip. We ended up switching bowls halfway. The kids loved watching the cows walk by, and at one point, one of the free range chickens came by to ask us if we were enjoying our meal!
After we finished, we walked around the farm. There was a special area with about 15 young calves, which my youngest son loved. My oldest found the pig pen, and spent a few minutes practicing his oinks.
Eventually we received the call that my mother-in-law was home from work, and it was time to go. Just as we were pulling out of the lot, we noticed a sign on the window, that said “Bacon and Maple flavor, coming soon!” We are definitely going to be making the drive out to Flayvors of Cook Farm a regular stop on all our future trips up to Massachusetts. After all, BACON AND MAPLE ice cream can’t be missed!