By Kim Buddington
Have you ever heard of or been part of a Piglet Social? What about a yoga class…among goats? At Aussakita Acres Farm in Manchester, Connecticut, you can experience both of these unique activities, and so much more!
For the past 12 years, farm owner and Professional Dog Obedience Trainer, Tracy Longoria has been pouring her passion for connecting people and animals into Aussakita Acres. Her business enjoyed much growth and success in that period. It continues to flourish now and hopefully well into the future. The farm features a colorful variety of different animals, including goats, pigs, alpacas, ponies, and waterfowl…to name a few.
“When we bought our property back in 2007 we knew we wanted to reclaim this old farm and add some animals to it but we never thought it would be the amazing farm it is today,” Tracy remarked in a recent interview with us.
The majority of children today are growing up further removed from farming, animals, and the natural world than their parents and grandparents did. As wild as it may sound to those of us who have grown up on farms, many kids and young adults in our communities have never even touched animals such as pigs and goats.
Tracy experienced this scenario first hand during the early years of running her farm, which in turn helped solidify the future direction and focus of Aussakita Acres.
“One day a friend stopped by with his young daughter. They were from a very rural town and we thought she would have loved the animals but she was actually afraid,” she explained. “Little by little her courage grew and within an hour or so she was holding baby goats and petting ponies.”
“This made me think of all the children who never get to meet farm animals and how they must be afraid of them too. So that is how the true meaning of our farm was born. We want to share our animals with others and educate people about them.”
To provide some context to those who might be unfamiliar with the area, Manchester, Connecticut, is a town of around 58,000 people that lies to the east of the capital city of Hartford. The dense and diverse population in the region offers many opportunities for Tracy and family to do what they love, in a fun, non-threatening environment for people of all ages.
The farm opens for the season in April of each year. What’s the main attraction at that time, you ask? Irresistible, bouncing baby goats, of course! During a Baby Goat Social at Aussakita Acres, participants are welcome to come out and take a break from the demands of their busy lives and sit amongst the goat kids and their moms. Guests can pet and snuggle the babies, or just enjoy the wonder of watching little goats be little goats.
Just like the Baby Goat Socials, a little later in the season when the piglets are born, Piglet Socials are another popular offering at the farm. If you’ve ever wanted to give a piglet a belly rub, this is your chance! Or you can simply relax and observe or play with the babies.
You may have read about it or heard of it on the news, but recently, Goat Yoga classes have been exploding with popularity. It’s safe to say that Aussakita Acres knows how to offer a fantastic Goat Yoga experience.
“We have been the premier Goat Yoga destination in CT for four years now,” Tracy said.
For the past three years, they have also enjoyed running Goat Yoga events for the local baseball team, the Hartford Yard Goats! Would it be appropriate to say that they’ve hit a home run in this department? 🙂 If this sounds like it might be your cup of tea, grab your yoga gear and check it out.
The list of hands-on opportunities with farm animals at Aussakita Acres goes on. You can attend a Goat Gathering with the whole herd, as well as tour the entire farm and even try your hand at livestock care. Animal husbandry clinics are even offered for those who’d like to dive deeper. It’s all interactive! Interacting with animals can have fantastic therapeutic benefits for people, regardless of age.
Individuals living with mental and physical challenges, as well as people fighting through addiction, may find socializing with animals particularly helpful. Because of this, the farm has formed unique partnerships with organizations that aid people with special needs and offers tours tailored specifically for them. What a wonderful way to provide a breath of fresh air to those who need it most.
If you’re having a birthday party or shower, you can have it at Aussakita Acres. Guests can now book the shiny, recently constructed 38’ x 40’ building on the farm to have events on this little patch of down-home heaven. On another very exciting note, the farm will be offering something new for the 2020 season.
“Coming this spring, we will also have the option for people to do a farm stay experience in our new Airbnb,” Tracy told us.
That’s right, an overnight vacation on the farm! How neat is that? Don’t take our word for it though, check it out for yourself if you can. There truly is something for everyone.
We asked Tracy what her favorite farm animal experience that she offers was.
“It has to be Piglet Socials,” she remarked. “Because people have no idea just how social and loving pigs really are until they take the time and sit with them!”
Another thing that she loves about her farm is that each of the animals raised there has a specific and predetermined purpose. “…every animal on our farm is raised for education or to become a pet, a companion or a therapy animal,” she emphasized. “No animals are raised here for consumption!”
A lot of love, hard and messy work goes into running a farm. Tracy’s operation is no different, and she speaks candidly about the realities of raising these animals. “It is a dirty, expensive lifestyle that is done out of pure passion and not profit.”
If you are interested in supporting this passionate small business that is doing so much good in their local community, you are invited to visit their website and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram! There you will find all the information needed to book your farm experience and stay up to date with everything going on.
Oh, and when you do visit the farm, don’t forget to pick up some luxurious Alpaca fiber products (made with fiber from their own Alpacas, of course) before you leave!
*Please note that Aussakita Acres is OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Guests are required to make advance reservations, so adequate preparations can be made for your visit. Please also be advised that for the health and safety of your family, the farm prefers that any children coming to visit be at least five years old. Also, some activities may have different age restrictions as per USDA guidelines. Please consult Aussakita Acres for more information. 🙂 *
Aussakita Acres Farm
555 Lydall Street
Manchester CT 6042