It was wet on Saturday. Very wet, in fact. All this glorious rain did not dampen our newfound enthusiasm for Rush Ranch’s once-a-month FREE family day (called “Get the Rush!”). Rush Ranch is part of the Solano Land Trust, which has several other guided hike options to check out as well. To find out which day is their Family Day, check the events calendar.
We were introduced to the farm by seeing several kestrels on the posts lining the drive (see header image). I had never seen a kestrel up close–they are beautiful birds. We got there around 9:30, thinking we had missed the beginner’s bird walk, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that it had not left yet. The bird walk was for all ages, and while I definitely did not think it was too much walking for small people, it should be noted that beginning bird walks do not zip along, and the attention span of a three year old can sometimes tend toward the zipping. However, that said, the leader of the bird walk was very gracious and assured us that if we wanted to be done at any point with our walk, she would not be offended if we peeled off early.
Our bird walk started right at the parking lot, where we looked up to see a Great Horned Owl sitting in the barn, surveying the scene below. All participants were loaned a set of binoculars (although if you have small people, be forewarned that these are really exciting toys that certain people weren’t excited about giving back). The leader brought along a telescope, which I had never used before and which was quite amazing. After that, we meandered along, stopping to look at various birds. At one point, the three-year old ran ahead, yelling, “Come on, everyone!” in frustration as we stopped to look at MORE birds, so be aware that a small amount of birding might be good for small birders. That said, the group was very welcoming and enthusiastic about having children involved. Rush Ranch backs up to the slough, with miles of marsh, so many birds make their home on the ranch and in the surrounding areas.
We walked back to the nature center/ranch house, where kids could decorate a hummingbird feeder. (Not sure if they always have hummingbird feeders, but it seems like they have some kind of project every family day.) Then we went inside and participated in several hands-on science projects in the nature center. Apparently this is only the second time they have had the science projects, and the volunteers running the day were extremely supportive and helpful. I hope they keep these activity centers going– they were well-designed for kids of various ages. While the “build a beaver dam” was a little beyond the three year old, it was a big hit with the 7-11ish crowd.
There is also a working blacksmith shop, with a friendly blacksmith who is willing to engage and share lots of stories. On sunny days, there is also a wagon giving families rides around (wheelchair accessible, too!), but it was wet and rainy when we went. Add to that lots of horses, including a two week old foal (!) and you have a day full of fun for kids. While she was in the midst of one of the science experiments, the three year old turned to me and said, “Mommy, can we come back here again one day?”
We will definitely be returning, particularly since we didn’t do too much hiking, and there are several loops to explore. Rush Ranch is a part of the Solano Land Trust, and they clearly want to support families getting out and experiencing the beauty of Solano County. I don’t know that I would have “Rush-ed” (sorry, had to) out to Solano County were it not for researching purposes for this blog, but I’m very glad we did.
(Also, there are several good breweries in Fairfield, should you need an adult beverage when you leave the ranch. Or you could stop by the Jelly Belly factory.)
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