Visitors to Critz Farms can see everything from Nigerian dwarf goats to bunnies, from miniature donkeys to alpacas, thanks to the farm's unique relationship with farmers across the county.
"It works out great," said farm owner Matthew Critz. "It would be difficult for us to keep all those different kinds all year long."
Critz Farms, in Cazenovia, works with local farmers to bring all of these different animals together to one place for six or seven weeks during the fall.
"In exchange for letting the animals stay at the farm, we obviously feed and care for them, but we also give something 'in trade' to the collaborating farmers, leaving the choice of what they want up to each individual," said Juanita Critz. "Anyone who wants to advertise or promote their business to our customers is free to do so. In addition, some choose Critz Farms pure maple syrup, Critz Farms apple cider, Critz Farms apparel, a gift certificate for a Christmas tree or other goods in our shop, and the like. The Holmes family will harvest the corn in the cornfield maze and use that to feed their dairy herd."
Critz Farms is host to visitors from the country as well as farther, urban areas like Syracuse and Utica. Every day during the Fall season, buses full of kindergartners through third graders visit the farms; over 3,000 as of early October.
Matthew Critz said the experience is great for children from city schools.
"These kids have never been to the country," Critz said. "It's a real eye opener for them."
The farm acquired a 120-year-old cider press five years ago, and started pressing three years ago. According to Critz, the antique cider press is one of about six left in New York State.
Critz Farms is open year round, offering seedling sales in the spring, strawberry and blueberry picking in the summer, apple and pumpkin picking in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter.
Calves: The Holmes Family, Holmes Acres Dairy Farm, Cazenovia
Miniature Donkeys (mother and baby): Sara Pushlar, Amore Minis, Cazenovia
Lambs: Bee Tolman, Meadowood Farm, Cazenovia
Pigs: Sue Randall St. Louis, Delphi Falls
Alpacas: Debbie Becker, Windy Creek Farm, Sheds
Nigerian Dwarf Goats (mother and kids): Yvonne Lott, DeRuyter
Bunnies: Leisha O'Hara, Otselic