Animal Encounters at Yoki’s Farm
Disclaimer: Before our trip, I have ensured that it is safe for us, especially for our children, to visit the farm. I have researched and made sure that we are not breaking any law. I have also asked the staff about their safety protocols. We visited the farm on December 18, 2020 and we were all wearing face masks and face shields and practicing social distancing.
After 9 months of staying indoors, our children were so ecstatic to finally go outdoors. What better way to do it than spend a day with animals and enjoy nature? And so, my husband and I decided to go to Yoki’s Farm to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Finally, my kids would be free to explore and have fun!
I learned about Yoki’s Farm, located at Mendez, Cavite, from a good friend of mine. She had a friend who recently visited the farm with her kids whose ages are 7 and below. She suggested that I look into it because she taught that my children would enjoy it, too. I did my own research, got in touch with the staff of Yoki’s via Messenger and SMS to inquire about the rates and their safety protocols. My husband and I prayed hard about it before deciding and telling our kids about our nature trip.
We planned to go very early in the morning to avoid traffic and to ensure that the place won’t be crowded. After getting the kids ready and doing a 7-minute Easy Warm Up to brace ourselves for a day of walking, we left the house at around 8AM and arrived at the farm at 10:30AM. We got delayed due to the inaccuracy of the navigation app and the scarcity of signs leading to our destination. Yoki’s Farm is at 003 Tabluan Road, Palocpoc, Mendez, Cavite. The farm is tucked inside a town that is far from the main road. When we got there, the kids couldn’t wait to get out of the car, breathe in fresh air and check out the animals in the farm. With our face masks and face shields on and small spray bottles full of alcohol, we made our way towards the farm’s entrance.
We were supposed to get the Full Package (Php1,000/person) which includes Hydroponics Harvest and Animal Encounters but we were informed by the cashier that they ran out of lettuce at their hydroponics site due to the big group that visited days ago and suggested that we just avail of the Animal Encounters Package which includes close encounters and feeding of animals in the farm and in their aviary. My husband and I paid Php800 each, our 7-year old (at that time) was charged Php700, while our 3-year old got in for free.
The tour guide first showed us to where the larger-than-usual orange and yellow koi were leisurely swimming in a clean and clear pond underneath a short bridge. We haven’t seen such huge koi before and it was a delight for our kids to see them living in harmony with a few of the sting rays.
A few steps away from the bridge was the shed that houses different kinds of rabbits. The guide gestured for us to spray our hands with the alcohol provided at the doorway of the shed before entering the premises. He gave each of us a long stalk of grass to give to the rabbits. My son asked him why we’re not giving carrots instead. The guide replied that rabbits actually find it hard to digest the carrots. We learned something new! All this time, we thought that rabbits loved carrots. Anyhow. I was expecting that the shed would stink but it didn’t. The guide informed us that since the rabbits were fed with the right kind of diet (kangkong and mustard leaves) and the shed was being cleaned regularly, the shed does not have any unpleasant smell. My children enjoyed feeding all the rabbits in the enclosure. We got to see the white domesticated rabbits, the brown and white ones as well as the little bunnies that were staying close to their mother rabbit.
We then moved on to where all sorts of ducks are. The ducks were separated according to their kind in cages that have small, man-made ponds where they can drink and take a dip. Each cage has male and female ducks. The guide taught us how to identify the male from the female. Males are usually the ones that are colourful. For ducks that are of the same colour, their gender is identified through the size of their tails. Among the ducks that we have seen are the Black East Indies Duck, Mandarin Duck, Teal Duck, the brown and black ducks as well as the more common white ducks, that resemble Jemima Puddle-Duck from Beatrix Potter’s classical tales.
Next up was the aviary. My son and I got a bit concerned when the guide told us that we could get inside and pet the birds. Before entering the aviary, the guide prompted us to spray our hands with alcohol again. The aviary was divided into two sections – land-based birds were separated from the birds of flight. We went to the latter area first. The bird keeper introduced us to their resident cockatoos whom they fondly call Mau-Mau and Blackjack. Mau-Mau is a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo while Blackjack is a Palm Cockatoo. I was able to muster the courage to let Mau-Mau perch on my arm for a few minutes and have a quick photo with that beautiful bird. The keeper allowed us to pet Mau-Mau’s clean, soft and smooth feathers. I didn’t dare go near Blackjack because I felt that that bird isn’t that friendly. Though my husband tried to have that Palm Cockatoo rest on his shoulder for a photo. He said that it’s too heavy for a bird but that it was also tamed enough to perch on a human. In that same section, we also saw other birds such as the blue macaw, much like Blue from the animated movie, Rio.
Then, we transferred to the adjacent section, to where the five beautiful peacocks are. Two of them are white while the rest are a mix of blue, green and brown. The male peacocks are the ones with the long, colourful tails with detailed circle patterns while the females have short tails. We were hoping to see the males show off their lovely fan-like tails but they were just quietly moving around. In that same area, there were small ponds where little turtles crawl in and out.
Right outside the aviary was the enclosure to where a few of the eaglets are. According to the guide, those were the ones that were rescued from poachers by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and were adopted by the owner of Yoki’s Farm. One of the brown and white eagles was a bit noisy, screeching as it flies around the enclosure.
Next, we went to the reptile house where we sawIguana, Lizard, Gecko and an Albino snake. We didn’t stay that long in that section because my little girl got so terrified of the snake.
Outside the reptile house, we saw Yoki Farm’s thriving garden with rows and rows of Cauliflowers and Broccolis. Up until that time, I didn’t know that these vegetables have such large leaves. Not too far from them are shrubs of Spearmint, Blue Butterfly Pea and Cactus.
Close to the vegetable garden is the sprawling, fenced lawn where two Siberian Wild Dogs were taking a nap. It was my first time to see such huge dogs. They pretty much look like wolves. Now, I can imagine how scary it is to be face-to-face with wild dogs! Though, Arya and Bandit, Yoki’s Siberian Wild Dogs, looked very calm and tamed at that time of our visit. My son asked if they can bark. The guide told us that those kind of dogs don’t bark, they howl.
After the dogs, we went to the Hydroponics section where we saw lines upon lines of grow trays filled lettuce. The guide briefly explained how hydroponics work by showing us the parts of the system such as the air pump, water source, and the styro cups to which the lettuce are growing. Right outside the hydroponics section are rows of Mulberry trees. Some of the fruits were vividly red and ripe, ready for picking.
Our next stop is the combined enclosure for the Zebra, Miniature Horse, Ostrich, and Turkeys. Marty, the farm’s friendly zebra, may be fed and pet by visitors. The keeper gave us a bucket half-filled with something that looked like a mix of oats and hay. My kids and I got startled when Marty tried to get too close to us after he finished his bucket of food. It was a good thing that the keeper was quick to nudge the zebra back to his corner. The guide then led us the spot where a Miniature Horse was resting, probably sleeping, under a tree. My kids asked the guide if they could ride on the horse but he said that that one wasn’t meant for riding. A short distance away from the horse were the groups of Turkeys and Ostriches. The guide suggested that we go near an ostrich. My children and I declined because that tall bird was already walking towards us and might get too close for comfort. So, while the kids and I walked back towards the gate, my husband and I went with the guide to get a closer look with the Ostrich.
Across the Zebra enclosure is the shed for different kinds of fowls. Among the fowls that we saw are the Cassowary, and a bird which the guide referred to as the Ibong Adarna, the infamous bird from a Filipino folk tale.
We went to the other side of the farm and fed several Turtles and Tortoises with Pechay. The other animals that we saw are the Caiman, and a group of Tilapia swimming in the pond to the where the huge statue of Buddha was.
We did a tour of the farm at our own pace and yet we still got tired of going around that four-hectare property. We had so much fun, especially our kids, and it is one of best family adventures that we had to date. I’m so glad that we took that one of a kind, family-friendly, and kid-approved trip last December 2020. At least, we have that wonderful memory to look back on now that we’re back on General Community Quarantine (GCQ).