Celebrating Cox Farms’ 40th Anniversary, at the 2012 Fall Festival

Cox Farms is celebrating 40 years of business this year. Throughout the Fall Festival season, we’ve had a wonderful time seeing friends, families, and neighbors – both old and new. We’ve also taken time to reflect on how far we’ve come. From small produce markets in Herndon, VA, to today’s Fall Festival – what a journey it has been! We wouldn’t be here today without the families throughout the DC area making the journey – and we thank everyone for the support! We welcome you to read all about our story, and how we got here.
We accomplished a lot in 2012. The highlights include new additions to our Hayride, a newly built Mining Sluice, a new “Bunnyville” home for bunnies in the animal barn, and a new website that makes it easier for folks to plan Fall Festival visits and get tickets.

A 1985 ad for summer produce, shortly after Cox Farms moved to Centreville, VA

Through it all, we strive to keep that “Cox Farms” feel. This year, we shared some of our old artwork from throughout the last 40 years. To this day, we continue to paint most things by hand on the farm. We truly love to get our hands dirty! We also continue to add more fun for everyone – like our Fields of Fear nights, which are nearing the end of their fourth year. Anyone who started to feel “too big” for the Fall Festival now knows where to go! But, can you really be too big for the Fall Festival? We think . . . no!

Early this season, we enjoyed hosting our “2012 Art and Photo Contest” on Facebook. Aileen Mayo won the grand prize. Mr. Cox had a fantastic time with the Mayo family and took them on a private family hayride. They left with a huge basket of tasty treats from the Festival Market, 40th anniversary t-shirts, and huge smiles!

Cox Farms 2012 Art and Photo Contest Winners, the Aileen Mayo family

Fall is always a season for celebration, a time for friends and families to come together and enjoy special traditions, venture outside, and take notice of all we have to be thankful for. All of us at Cox Farms thank you for being a part of our local tradition. . . for generations! We hope to see you soon, whether it’s on the far side of the pond or down at the Corner Market for Christmas. Happy fall, everyone!

Final weekends for 2012:

Have you heard the buzz? Catch up on this year’s press.
Follow us on Facebook.
Join Cox Farms as a member, and celebrate the best of every season, down on the farm!

Chewie: Llama, Guardian, Friend To All

-By Kym Sunday, a Cox Farms Farmhand

At 6 feet tall, Chewie takes his job seriously. He stands guard over our herd of goats that he has adopted as his own family. If you take a stroll through the goat pen where Chewie hangs out, he will follow you around, watching your every move to make sure that you mean no harm to his family.

Social llamas love being a part of any herd. They don’t like canines, such as coyotes, foxes or dogs and will behave aggressively towards them. Sheep ranchers in the midwest figured this out and began using llamas to guard their flocks of sheep from predators. A guard llama will defend it’s flock in a number of ways – by sending out an alarm call, walking or running towards an intruder. They might paw at or kick it and have been known to kill coyotes. They may also herd their flock into a tight group and move it to a safe area.

Gentle, calm and curious, llamas are highly intelligent and very easy to handle. They quickly learn things like carrying a pack, pulling a cart, accepting a halter and being led around. Chewie even knows his name! One of the Cox’s grandchildren walks to the bus stop every morning and when she yells a cheery “Good Morning Chewie,” he immediately looks up, and moves his ears dramatically to acknowledge her from afar.

Chewie is about a year and a half old and came to us from a farm in Pennsylvania. His award winning hair will be turned into yarn and then knit into something gorgeous by Lucas Cox’s wife. Llamas come in all kinds of fun colors and patterns. Black, white, browns, reds, polka dotted, solid, and patterened.

In the Andes Mountains of South America, llamas are used as pack animals. They are members of the camelid family – which includes camels, llamas and alpacas. They can walk up to 20 miles in a single day carrying up to 75 pounds. This is how most goods get moved through the rough terrain in the Andes. They won’t however tolerate being overloaded. If they are they may lie down on the ground and spit, kick or hiss until the burden is lightened.

Llamas are herbivores – meaning they only eat plants or plant material. They don’t require a lot of water. They usually live to be between 15 and 25 years old and adults can weigh between 280 and 450 pounds.  Baby llamas are called crias. Most llama mammas only have one cria at a time. Gestation is about 350 days and she will deliver her 20 to 30 pound cria standing up.   They start standing and nursing within about 90 minutes of birth and are weaned at around 6 months.

It’s true that llamas spit.  It’s their way of saying “Leave me alone.” They mostly spit at other llamas but will certainly spit at humans if they are mistreated. Chewie is much more polite than the average llama and we have never seen him spit.

Don’t forget to say hello to Chewie the next time you visit his goat family at Cox Farms!

Behind the Scenes With Cooper, a Fields of Fear “Master of Fright”

-By Paige Long, a Cox Farms Farmhand

What position do you hold at Fields of Fear?
I am an actor in the Cornightmare.
I am usually in a ghillie suit,
but I was a gargoyle this weekend.

Cooper gets into character at Fields of Fear.

What is it like to work in your position?
Oh, it’s so much fun to work in my position because I have a character with a false sense of security, meaning people don’t think I’m real, and when I jump out at them, it scares them like crazy!

What motivated you to apply to work at Cox Farms’ Fields of Fear?
For starters, I love acting, and acting at a place where I get paid to scare people?  Ha, sign me up!

What has been your best memory of working at Fields of Fear so far?
My best memory had to be when I was in my costume and I saw two people from my school.  Since my school is far away, I didn’t plan on seeing very many people I knew.  They were actually really good friends and seeing them here made me very happy!

What is your favorite part about working at Fields of Fear?
I might be selfish by saying this, but my favorite part is definitely the free food we get for working there, and the pizza we’re fed for dinner beforehand!

You were declared Best Cornundrum Scare of the Night this past Friday.  What are you doing to celebrate (Cooper was rewarded with a few extra bucks)?
My bonus went straight to my savings!  I’m hoping to save up to buy a motorcycle after I’m licensed.

There you have it!  Keep your eyes peeled for Cooper and remember: you’ll never know where he’ll be in the Cornightmare.

The Brown Family Visits the Fall Festival

-By Devin Kammerdeiner, a Cox Farms Farmhand

People from all over come out to Cox Farms every week to experience some of the best fun in the area. Sometimes, however, people don’t have to make a long haul to get to some of the best entertainment Virginia has to offer.
The Brown family came from Fairfax to have a good time down on the farm. Much like many families that come to Cox Farms, they try to make it a family trip every year. The Browns all agree that one of the best things to come for is the slides, and who can blame them with amazing slides like the Dino Slide and Castle Slide?  The Castle Slide just so happens to e Miranda’s favorite (one of the Brown’s daughters)!

When asked what job he would want on the farm, oldest son Parker enthusiastically claimed he would love being an alien… as is the dream of many a young lad who visits. The pig pen was definitely the favorite of young Jane, and who can resist the cute faces of those little pigs! With fun like this to be had there’s no time to waste, come on down to the farm.

Check out some of the cute animals at the Fall Festival. 

Kids Playing With Kids: It’s a Goat Thing!

-by Kym Sunday, a Cox Farms Farmhand

Our focus this spring and summer was on new “kids” (the term used for baby goats) being born into the Cox Farms family. Now, it’s well into fall, and our second round of “kids” is arriving in the Fall Festival Goat Village. There’s been a kid explosion at Cox Farms! Between all the youngsters running around with their parents, and our bustling goat village, “kids” are front and center at Cox Farms!

A mother goat at Cox Farms

Why have so many goats been born?
Well besides the obvious, we normally keep our “bucks” (boy goats who are not fixed) and “does” (girl goats) in separate pens.  Way back in the (not so) cold of winter we introduced our breeding buck, named “Buckshot,” into the main herd of does.  Over a period of a few weeks he mated with about 30 different does.  Roughly 150 days after the first pregnancy our kids began to arrive, and they kept coming, and coming, and coming: 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . 26 – try and keep count after that!

Most of our does had twins, and most of our kids were bouncing baby bucks!  They could stand within minutes after birth and were able to move with the herd right away.  They are very playful and fun to watch!  Once we got through the main “kidding” period, Greg, our primo goat caretaker, started placing tags on the kid’s ears (think pierced earring).  The kids will wear their tags for their whole lives.  They will tell us what year they were born, that Buckshot is their father, they are ours, their gender, and help us keep count of our kids.  Our 2012 kids wear cool Cox Farms yellow tags.

Here is a picture of a “kid” goat wearing a identification tag.

Your questions about goats – answered!
I am about to celebrate my 4th Anniversary with Cox Farms.  During that time I have been asked many, many questions by children of all ages about our goats.  I have learned more than I ever thought I would by working with them, but once the kidding started it became obvious that I needed to learn more about our goats.  Here are some of the top questions I get asked about all the goats at Cox Farms.

How many kids can a doe have in a litter?  How long to they live?
A doe can have between 1 and 6 kids in a litter; twins are most common.  They live about 8-12 years old.

How much do the newborn kids weigh?  What about adult goats? 
That varies by breed, but our kids have weighed in at a whopping 2 to 4 pounds!  They grow like weeds, and don’t stay small for long!  Adult goats can weigh anywhere from 20-350 pounds!  Ours are mostly under 100 pounds.

What kind of goats do you have?
Most of our goats are lovable “mutts” – mixed breeds.  We have a few “fainting” goats in our herd.  Of course they don’t really faint!  When they feel panicked, their muscles just freeze for about 10 seconds.  That results in the goat falling on it’s side.  Don’t worry.  They get right back up and go about their business.

Do goats bite?
All animals can bite.  Goats don’t usually bite – at least not intentionally.  They don’t have upper front teeth.  They have a hard “gum pad” so if they do accidentally “bite” they are not likely to do any serious damage.

Do goats get sick?
Of course!  Like humans, goats occasionally get sick.  And, like humans, our goats have their own “doctor” – a wonderful local vet.  Fortunately we have many animal lovers who work at Cox Farms and some great customers who look out for our animals.  They are quick to point out anything that seems amiss.  Any illness is caught and treated pretty quickly.

Are goats smart?
Oh, yes!  They are very curious, too!  They love to explore new places and quite often they figure out how to get out of their pens!   Once they do, good luck keeping them on the INSIDE.  Even kids will get out of the fence, but they will not go far from their mommies.  Some goats can jump as high as 5 feet.  A few of our goats have been known to jump the fence and come visit us all over the Fall Festival – including the Festival Market!.  Our goats also recognize certain farm vehicles – the ones that bring them food – and will come running when they see them.  Also, goats use their upper lip and tongue to explore anything new.  They investigate things like your clothing, camera cases, hair, purses, and anything else you are carrying by nibbling at them.  Occasionally they eat them, too – oops!

Speaking of eating, what DO goats eat? 
Folklore will have you believe that goats will eat just about anything – even tin cans!  That is not exactly true (it’s true that they do like the tasty glue from can labels).  Like I said, goats investigate new things by nibbling them, but they will spit out anything that doesn’t taste good.  What they really like is to browse on vines, shrubbery, and tall weeds.  They will stand on their hind legs to reach tree branches.  You will notice that we have a hard time growing trees in the goat pen!

Our goats love the sweet feed that we give them, which is specially formulated for healthy goats.  They also love alfalfa hay.  Kids will nurse from their mothers until they are 2 to 3 months old when they will eat what the rest of the herd eats.  Please don’t try and feed our goats the corn you find around the farm.  It upsets their tummies!

You can tell a buck from a doe because a buck has horns and a beard, right?  False.  Both can have horns and beards.  You have to look closer than their horns to tell the difference.

Can goats see in the dark?
Yup – they have excellent night vision.  I often see them out browsing after dark.  They have rectangular pupils, like an octopus of all things!

Can goats swim?
Goats hate to get wet.  That is probably why I have never seen a goat swim.  Interestingly though, they are excellent swimmers.

Goats seem skittish.  What is the best way to pet them? 
Don’t go right for the top of the head like you are petting your dog.  They can’t see what you are doing so it makes them nervous.  Come at them from the front towards their chin.  They can see you and won’t be as scared. They have a couple of sweet spots where they liked to be rubbed – on the side of their neck where it meets their chin, their breastbone and their armpits.  It is easiest to pet them while you are feeding them.

Do they make good pets?  Can they be kept alone?
Goats make excellent pets, but please do your research and DON’T keep them alone.  Be sure you are allowed to have goats where you live, you have enough room, and you learn how to care for them.  Goats are herd animals and need the company of at least one other goat.  They will also readily accept other animals like cows and horses (and llamas like our very own Chewy!) as companions.

Goats need companions! Here, a mother takes care of her “kids” at Cox Farms.

Behind the Scenes With a Fields of Fear Scaretician

-By Paige Long, a Cox Farms Farmhand

Say hello to Callie O., a Cornundrum actor at Cox Farms’ Fields of Fear!

What position do you hold at Fields of Fear? I am on the Cornundrum team.  For a while, I was the bus driver, but I have since switched positions to creeper. See if you can find me!

What is it like to work in your position?
I love the position I’m in!  It’s really fun and scaring people is great!

What motivated you to apply to work at Cox Farms’ Fields of Fear?
I decided to apply for Fields of Fear because I needed a job and I thought it’d be really fun to work at Cox Farms.  I grew up going there every year!

What has been your best memory of working at Fields of Fear so far?
My best memory has got to be all the actors gathering up after a long night of Fields of Fear scares talking laughing, and drinking hot chocolate and apple cider!

What is your favorite part about working at Fields of Fear?
My favorite part about working at Fields of Fear is scaring people.  There’s something about it that’s so much fun!

You were declared Best Cornundrum Scare of the Night this past Friday.  What are you doing to celebrate (Callie was rewarded with a few extra bucks!)?
I plan on putting it towards something homecoming-related like my ticket, my dress, or my dinner!

There you have it!  Visit Callie O., now a creeper at Cox Farms’ Fields of Fear:  Friday and Saturday nights from 7:30 to 11 PM, with the last admission being an hour before closing, through the beginning of November!

Behind the Scenes With Our Farmhands at the Fall Festival

-By Paige Long, a Cox Farms Farmhand

Say hello to Gillian B, a new employee to the 2012 Fall Festival at Cox Farms!

What position do you hold at the Fall Festival?
I work down at the hayride start, giving rules, directing the tractors, and helping everybody get on.

What is it like to work in your position?
It’s really awesome working here because I get to spend all day talking with kids about their visits and Halloween. It’s cool to see everybody so excited about everything that’s going on!

What motivated you to apply to work at Cox Farms?
When I first moved here several years back, I started going to Fields of Fear, and last year I decided I wanted to start working there.  Fall is my favorite season, so I thought working at the festival would be the perfect fit.

What is your favorite memory of working at Cox Farms?  Your worst?
My favorite memory would have to be getting to play with the one-week old baby goats.  One of the youngest ones ran over to me while I was feeding them and let me pick her up and I don’t think I’ve ever held an animal that was that soft.

Is it cliché to say I don’t think I had any bad memories so far?  The worst would have to be when I ran out of bubbles for my bubble gun – that was a bummer…

What is something a Cox Farms customer MUST do before leaving the farm?
You can’t leave the farm without going down the dinosaur slide. I went on my first ride of the season today and it was even better than I remembered.

There you have it!  Talk to Gillian at hayride start, try Cox Farms’ famous kettle corn, and go down the dinosaur slide the next time you swing by the farm!

Quacking Around With the Ducks of Cox Farms

-By Kym Sunday, a Cox Farms Farmhand

Imagine sitting by a lake, fishing pole in hand, listening to the sounds of nature when along comes a mamma duck with her ducklings swimming close behind. . . talk about putting a smile on your face!

Comical and lovable, ducks are often featured as fictional characters.  Donald and Daisy Duck and their family, Daffy Duck, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Irwin the Disco Duck are all familiar ducks that bring a smile to your face.  But what do you actually know about ducks?

You probably know that baby ducks are called ducklings, and their mamma ducks are called ducks.  You may even know that male ducks are called drakes.  But did you know that ducks are omnivores?  They eat grass, aquatic plants, insects, seeds, fruit, fish, crustaceans and other available foods (especially the bread that you like to feed them).  Our ducklings LOVE lettuce and my own childhood duck ate worms like spaghetti!

A duck lines her nest with feathers she plucks from her own chest to make it soft and warm  for her eggs.  Most duck breeds hatch after about 28 days. Once hatched, ducklings are able to walk and leave their nest within a few hours.  A duck will lead her ducklings as far as a half mile after hatching to find water for swimming and feeding.

Ducks love the water – both fresh and saltwater – and you will often find our ducklings hanging out in their own special pond by the Barn Slide.  Ducks have webbed feet that are made for swimming and water-proof feathers so their bodies don’t get wet.  Their feet don’t get cold on ice or in cold water because their feet have no nerves or blood vessels.  Those webbed feet make them “waddle” when they walk.  Here at Cox Farms we have 4 different breeds of ducks:  White Crested, Rouen, Welsh Harlequin and Black Cayuga.

Most male ducks are silent and very few ducks actually “quack.” Instead, they squeak, honk, grunt, groan, chirp, whistle, bray and growl.
 Not all ducks fly, but they are found all over the world, except for Antarctica where it is too cold!  Rouen ducks came to the U.S. from France before the 19th century. They look like mallards but are bigger and can grow to weigh as much as 12 pounds. Males have green heads, white collars, black tail feathers, and a gray body.  The females are mottled light brown with a black crown and eye-stripes. Rouens make great ducks for backyard ponds – they eat lots of insects!

Welsh Harlequins are a breed that was imported to the US from Wales in 1968. They are small, only weighing 5-6 pounds.  Highly adaptable, Welsh Harlequins can lay from 240 to 330 white eggs yearly and are active foragers.  They are very calm and inquisitive.  Owners of Welsh Harlequins love to brag about how sweet their ducks are.

Did you ever see a duck with a powderpuff on it’s head?  They’re called White Crested ducks and they are quite a sight!  They grow fast and at about 2 months of age ours are already turning from duckling yellow to their soon-to-be adult white.  The powderpuff feels like bunny fur!

Named after Cayuga Lake in New York, Black Cayuga ducks have black feathers that look iridescent beetle green in the right light.   As they age they can become mottled white.  They are popular show ducks, are very calm and can’t fly.  They love to eat snails, slugs and other insects.  Their eggs range in color from black to white.

Ducks are entertaining creatures.  When visiting Cox Farms, stop by the barn slide and try your hand at duck watching.  I guarantee you won’t be able to stop smiling!

More Duck Facts

  • They live 2-12 years, depending upon their breed.
  • They can grow to be as big as 15 pounds!
  • They have 3 toes with toenails.
  • Duck quacks have no echo. (Ok, don’t believe this!  It is not true.)
  • They make great pets, but don’t like to be alone.  If they are, they will think they are a part of whatever flock they’re around – human, chicken, dog…