The harvest is over, the machinery is in the barn, and the animals are huddled. It’s winter down on the farm, a hushed, sleepy time when the gardens rest under ice-tinged, snowy blankets. But there’s still a lot going on: horse-drawn sleigh and wagon rides, winter hiking and snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, bonfires, and more. Bundle up and pack the snowshoes and a thermos of hot cocoa. Here are six farms that remain open throughout the cold season, offering a variety of activities. Note: Visit individual websites for up-to-date safety guidelines. Some activities are weather dependent.
It’s a beautiful, pastoral setting, worthy of an Asher B. Durand painting: pastures and woodlands with brooks and dotted with wetlands and vernal pools. Perhaps a rafter of wild turkeys will be grazing in the hay fields, softly purring their contentment.
There are hiking trails throughout the 109-acre property, and the adjacent 1,200-acre Hale Reservation. Are you visiting with small children? Check out the family-friendly StoryWalk, featuring “Over and Under the Snow” by Kate Messner, with art by Christopher Silas Neal. After, warm up next to a private bonfire, complete with s’mores making (Sat. noon-2 p.m. or 3 p.m.-5 p.m., reservations required, $75 for up to six people). The Trustees’ property also offers a weekly after-school program for kids ages 7-11, featuring cooking lessons, nature walks, animal tracking, and more. Dover, www.thetrustees.org/place/powisset-farm, daily dawn-dusk, free.
Great Brook Farm
This active dairy farm, located in Great Brook State Park, has a cluster of farm buildings, surrounded by some 1,000 acres of forests and fields, and ice-banked babbling brooks and ponds. There are 20 miles of trails to explore; try the easy, 3-mile Acorn Trail, or the hike up Indian Hill, if you’re looking for a more challenging workout.
An old cow barn has been turned into a cross-country ski touring center, offering rentals and information on the property’s 10 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails, weather dependent, of course. Visit on a Tuesday or Thursday night to ski the twinkling Lantern Loop. Carlisle, www.mass.gov/locations/great-brook-farm-state-park, daily dawn-dusk, $3 per vehicle.
Coppal House Farm
Some 250 chickens, 75 ewes, 15 hogs, four draft horses, two sentry cats, and two Great Pyrenees dogs all live with the Hutton family on this pretty, 78-acre farm in Lee, N.H. We visit and order from the farm store often for lamb and eggs and sunflower oil. (The farm hosts a popular yearly sunflower festival and creates a 6-acre corn maze each fall.)
In winter, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the woods and open fields, and then warm up by a bonfire. You’ll want to bring your own blanket for the sleigh ride, and everything you need, including sticks, for s’mores. Sleigh rides are 30 minutes long (one-horse sleigh for two people $100, one-horse sleigh for up to six people $125, two-horse sleigh for up to 14 people $200.) Lee, N.H., www.nhcornmaze.com, farm store daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m., sleigh rides weekends, reservations required.
Smiling Hill Farm
Mittens and Wiggles, the farm’s resident black cats, are likely to greet you at this dairy farm dating back to 1720. It’s been owned and managed for more than 300 years by 12 generations of the Knight family. The 500-acre farm maintains a strong sustainability ethos: Milk is bottled in reusable glass containers, chemical fertilizers are never used, and the whey from cheese is collected and fed to the pigs, among other earth-friendly practices. And from cow to container, milk, as well as the farm’s cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, never leaves the farm until customers take it home.
Bring your hiking boots, snowshoes, or cross-country skis (ski and snowshoe rentals are also available). There are 25 kilometers of groomed Nordic ski trails, and several opportunities for snowshoeing or winter hiking, across rolling fields and skirting two ponds. After your jaunt, stop by the cafe and ice cream shop for a refueling treat. Before you leave, visit the farm store to pick up uber-fresh milk, ice cream, and butter to go. Westbrook, Maine, www.smilinghill.com, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m., cafe 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
It’s a working farm, it’s a petting zoo, it’s a wildlife center. This 180-acre southern New Hampshire farm is a year-round family favorite. In winter, sign up for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the woods. You may see the farm’s herd of cattle and horses grazing in the winter pastures, and pass the wildlife exhibit, home to black bears, a camel, a red fox, a bobcat, and more. After select rides, you may be able to warm up beside a blazing bonfire. There are several sleigh ride options available, including the Sleigh Ride Social, with a chance to see live reindeer ($179-$395, weekends). Candia, N.H., www.visitthefarm.com, weekends, reservations required.
Walk the Forest Discovery Trail, hop along the stump jump, and hike to the top of the hill for expansive views of Mount Wachusett and the Monadnock range during your visit to this Mass Audubon property in Lincoln. It’s less than 20 miles from Boston, but this nearly 300-acre working farm feels a time-travel away. Look for barn animals, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and cows; view the native wildlife exhibits including foxes, owls, and hawks, and sit for a while in one of the bird blinds, where you may catch a glimpse of wintering birds or animal tracks in the snow. Lincoln, www.massaudubon.org/drumlin, Tues.-Sun. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., reservations required, $9 adults, $6 seniors and ages 2-12, free to Mass Audubon members.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com