On a back road in Pawling, a local family has turned their property into butterfly paradise. They’ve created a haven and habitat for Monarch and Painted Lady butterflies that serves as a beautiful backdrop for education about and enjoyment of the natural world. On weekends from late May to early September, they open their farm to the public.
To get there from the Brewster area, head north on Route 22. Go about 7 miles past the intersection of Route 22 and 311 in Patterson. Make a left onto Old Pawling Road and stay to the left at the immediate Y intersection to go over the train tracks. Go 1.4 miles and make a right onto Gobblers Knob Road. The dirt-road entrance to the farm will be 1/10th of a mile down on the right hand side.
As we pulled in, we passed a Guinea Fowl Crossing sign – they roam freely about the farm but seem to keep their distance from visitors. The property has a natural, country feel to it. It is obviously well tended-to without being overly manicured. Many of the plantings in the flowerbeds are labeled for those of us that are botanically challenged.
We signed the guest book and started to take a look around when we were greeted by one of the owners, Pat, who was very welcoming and obviously enjoyed her work. She led us to the caterpillar garden, giving us a lesson on the way on the lifecycle of caterpillars and butterflies. I knew we had found a special place when I saw the hundreds of striped caterpillars covering the plants. Just like my kids, I was suddenly very excited about finding bugs.
Next stop was the butterfly house. My wife stayed outside while the kids and I ventured in – she wasn’t sure she could resist the urge to swat if something landed on her. The kids were filled with a combination of curiosity and apprehension. I was just afraid one of us was going to accidentally squash one of our newfound friends. Once inside, it was pretty amazing. The butterflies are everywhere – on the plants, the walls, the floor. Some will land on you as you stand there. We even fed them blue Gatorade.
The nest stop was at a building with some educational displays and a classroom with reptile tanks, kids’ microscopes, and insect specimens. My 16 month old especially liked the larger-than-life anthill with the metal sculpted ants. We then made a quick run-through of the gift shop.
Before ending our visit we took a short hike on the Habitat Trail, which consists of a mowed path through a rolling meadow and leads to a small pond. At the water’s edge is a bench to sit and take in the scenery, an information board for the kids (and curious adults) about dragonflies and damselflies, and two of those carnival-type boards with cut-outs for your head to take slightly embarrassing pictures.
We spent about an hour and a half at the farm. It is a wonderful experiment that educates without lecturing. We learned so many fascinating facts about Monarchs, but I don’t want to spoil your visit – you’ll have to explore Rainbow’s End for yourself.
Rainbow’s End Butterfly Farm & Nursery is a privately owned business. It is open to the public on weekends from 11am to 4pm from May 29th to September 6th. Their season culminates in a butterfly release festival in September when the Monarchs migrate to Mexico. There is no specific fee to visit, but they do ask for donations and they raise money through sales at the nursery and gift shop. For more info, call them at 845/832-6749 or visit their website at www.rainbowsendfarm.biz.