..the Roloffs from Little People Big World! We've always known their family farm was here in Oregon, but somehow we've just never taken time to make the two hour drive up to visit. It's open to the public during pumpkin season and it's free admission, so this year we decided to set a whole day aside just to go.
The whole drive up the kids kept talking about how they hoped we would meet the Roloffs. Sometimes they are filing new episodes, and they aren't milling about the farm, but we had heard from friends that quite often they are actually outside for pictures, etc. As soon as we drove up we saw Zach, and all the kids ran over to wave and say hi...
The farm itself is situated in Helvetia, Oregon, and the landscape is just like Corvallis- rolling green hills dotted with farms, and beautiful trees displaying the vivid colors of fall. The Roloff's farm is 110 acres, 75 of it just purchased just this year. They bought the property and house in 1990 and have basically turned the whole place into a miniature theme park, minus the rides. There are dozens of structures all over the property that Matt built himself, or had people help him build...a castle for their daughter Molly, a pirate ship and lagoon for their boys, an old authentic miniature western town, Noah's Ark (complete with roaming animals!), barns that house offices, Amy's gardens, a soccer field, volleyball/sand pit, tennis and basketball court (with a small hoop and a tall one), a four story tree house, a gazebo and firepit, an in-ground pool (not so typical for Oregon!), a Goatel (hotel for goats), and many more fun places to see. The cool thing is, everything looks so natural there- they somehow managed to preserve the landscape and set everything in amongst the trees and forest and hills, and it really doesn't feel like a theme park plopped right in the middle of nature. The Roloffs are big believers in recycling lumber from old barns to build their structures, so everything has that weathered, vintage-y look.
My kids kept putting in orders to God about what they want for their mansions in Heaven...this place literally would be a dream-come-true for them if we lived there. Almost every structure- Noah's Ark, the Pirate Ship, etc. had sleeping quarters, and apparently the Roloff kids spent many a night sleeping in different places on the farm during their growing up years. (more pictures of these awesome sites in tomorrow's post.)
The Roloffs have several exotic animals on site, as well as sheep, lamas, goats, chickens, a crocodile, dogs, cats, donkeys and bulls...at least that's what they looked like, except they were...hairy.
(I bet I am not getting that right. They looked like hairy bulls. Science lesson for next week: find out what hairy bulls are called.)
Anyhoot, they have a seven month old Bengal Tiger and a Serval...which looks like a cheetah with a different shaped head.
Funny story- Kenzie was busy snapping photos while the kids were reading the signs on the animals' cages. They said the "cheetah" was actually a Serval...so Kenz (who is a true blond but is now a fake brunette:)) was trying to get the cat to look her way for a photo. She kept calling, "Here, Serval! Serval, look this way!" until Caleb piped up, "It's name isn't Serval. Kenzie- it IS a Serval." Mackenzie just gave us one of those blank looks and then started laughing.
Good thing we're not doing our own reality tv show- not so sure we'd be a great advertisement for home schooling.
Lily was fascinated with the Serval and the Bengal Tiger. She kept staring at them in awe, so I explained what they were..in toddler terms.
"Kitty cat, Lily! See the kitty cat!" She quickly signed cat and flashed a grin - I'm thinking little sister is going to have a better grasp of the animal kingdom some day than the rest of her family. One can always hope...
Of course one of the main things we went to do was find some perfect pumpkins to carve. Roloff Farms delivered- pumpkins as far as the eye could see...
Mama put in her little request to God for her mansion and farm: pumpkin patches. Lots of them. I love pumpkins!!
So does somebody else...
Finally, one of the coolest parts of our trip was meeting the Roloffs themselves. There was a bit of a line to meet Amy, and I'm so glad we went on a Friday. Amy told us the weekends are packed out, but being that this was a school day, we beat the crowds for the most part. (And when I say beat the crowds, I mean hundreds of visitors, as opposed to thousands!)
Amy was so kind and friendly, asking us where we were from, and what brought us to Helvetia. She asked if "all these kids were mine" and when the children told her we actually had two more who were not with us that day, she just stared at me slack-jawed. "What were you thinking, Mama?!" and laughed. "Are you trying to start your own show or something?!"
We chatted a bit more, and then took some photos with Amy...
And if you are wondering if I found a way to make a pitch for Reece's Rainbow to Amy at this point, let me tell you I was verrrry tempted. I'm still trying to figure out how I could have fit that in.
"Yes, we drove all the way from Corvallis just so we could tell you about some amazing kids with Down syndrome on www.reecesrainbow.org and maybe you could mention the plight of the orphans on your next show??"
Unfortunately I was not that bold, but I am wracking my brain for a way to get the Roloffs to help. They are totally the most gracious, thoughtful people, and now that I'm looking at that giant banner behind us in this photo, the wheels are turning, believe me!!
I have another thirty-something pictures to post of the rest of our day- including ones of Matt Roloff and Lily- as well as an amazing story about how he gave our entire family complimentary tour passes to the whole farm (after asking our kids if we were going...and when they smiled shyly and said, "ummm"...he probably figured we didn't have an extra hundred dollars to go)...anyway, it was an AMAZING day and tomorrow I will post the rest of the story.
Lily wanted me to make sure to tell you, don't forget our five dollar challenge...
we'll be back tomorrow!