Summer on the farm
"Which cow makes ice cream?" asked a little girl, while another asked, "Which animal gives cotton?"

Some are so citified, they marvel when they see gravel.

This is why we need living history farms, say the farms' managers. Families can see the animals and crops their rural ancestors took for granted.

"Picking a warm egg from under a chicken is different from reading about it in a book," says Jerome Johnson at Garfield Farm. "We hope people will go away not just entertained, but thinking."

Admission fees vary, but most venues are free; some charge for special events or require a nominal donation fee for tours. (Blackberry Farm, which is part amusement park, charges from $3.75 to $7.) All are non-profit, so they welcome donations.

Leave your bicycles and dogs at home; they may scare the farm animals.

Blackberry Farm

Meet the farmer: "What a great job I have!" says Anita Anderson, one of Blackberry's animal caretakers. "The animals teach me something every day." When visitors coo to her charges, she gets it, she says. She grew up in the city but learned to love the farm animals too.

Animal stories: The pony rides are hot here, but so is watching the goats frolic. Lilly, a popular lop-eared bunny, is in her pen, says Anderson but hides in a clay pipe on hot days. The menagerie also includes chickens, a donkey, pigs and sheep.

What's growing: No crops grow here, save for the herbs near the Pioneer Cabin. But perennials and annuals abound.

Extra, Extra: A miniature train ride through the park is the biggie. Grown-up train fans gather at the farm's annual model train show, this year 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The horsey set appreciates Blackberry's antique carriage collection.

Mark your calendar: Frequent special events run the gamut, from ice cream socials to the ponies' birthday party.

Heads up: MapQuest doesn't recognize Blackberry's address, GPS zones out and the farm lacks signage. Aim for the green-and-white water tower.

100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora; 630-892-1550; Summer hours: 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and holidays.

Buckley Homestead

Living History Farm

Meet the farmer: Raised on a farm, Becky Crabb collected a degree in biology before becoming manager of this 1849 farm. "Helping the kids learn by touching, feeling, smelling — they learn more this way," she said.