Katonah, NY

Farming is a big part of Hudson Valley history, and a great place to explore what life was like on one local farm is at Westchester County’s Muscoot Farm in Katonah.

Muscoot was a “gentleman’s farm”, which means it did not represent the owner’s main source of income, and day-to-day operations were usually managed by hired help.  So in some regards, Muscoot’s facility may have been a bit more idealistic than a farm that was the sole income source for the owner, but it is still a great way to learn about farming and local history.

To get there from Brewster, the quickest route is to take 684 south to exit 6 for Katonah.  Make a right onto route 35 and go 1.6 miles, then make a left onto route 100.  The entrance to Muscoot Farm is 1.3 miles down on the right hand side of the road.  If you like a more scenic route, try going local through Somers via routes 202 and 100.

There is no ‘right’ way to visit.  There were no guided tours.  Instead, most of the buildings and grounds are open for free exploration.

We started out in the Visitor Center/Carriage House and picked up a map of the grounds.  From there we climbed through the Corn Crib and strolled through the Herb Garden.  Distracted by the butterflies and plants, my kids failed to notice the sprinkler and scattered as they got sprayed.

We then explored the Upper Dairy Barn before visiting the Farm Museum, which had a great exhibit of day-to-day household items.  From there, it was on to the Goat Pen, the Ice House and the Chicken Coup.  Amazingly, our visit to the chicken coup did not convince my wife to allow me to get chickens.

We hit the Pig Pen, Duck Pen and Blacksmith Shop before heading over to the snack shop for lunch.  We sat near the concession stand, but there are picnic tables scattered about the property.  After lunch we visited the Old Milk House, the Lower Dairy Barn (which was home to a few cows, calves and goats), the Turkey Pen, Cow Pen, Sheep Pen and Horse Ring.

As we were getting ready to leave, we noticed that the big pig was awake and outside so we stopped in to see him again, taking a small path near the back of the pen to get a better look.  The pig sauntered over to us, giving us a better look at him, and him a better look at us.  The whole time my youngest held a death grip on my shirt and kept staring to our right – there was a pigeon sitting on top of the fence next to us, no more than 3 feet from our heads.  I am beginning to think he doesn’t like birds.

Our last stop was a quick walk through part of the main house, where there was an artist gallery, and a stop at the outhouse – not for use, but rather to explain to the kids what it was.

Muscoot Farm is owned by Westchester County.  There is no admission or parking fee for individuals and families.  However, they do ask for donations and if you go on a hayride it is $2 per person.  Hayrides are on Sundays only.  For more info, call 914/864-7282 or visit www.muscootfarm.org.

In addition to the farm, there are over 7 miles of hiking trails on this 777-acre property.  We didn’t get a chance to explore any of them.  We left those for our next visit.