Last weekend, when the air was still thick with smoke from California wildfires all around us, my family took a little field trip.

We loaded the kids into the car, without telling them where we were going.

Of course, they wanted a hint. “Just tell us, Mommy! Is it like a park? Are we going to Bakersfield?”

“Nope. Nothing like that. Not a park. And it’s much closer than Bakersfield.”

“What about a play date?”

“It’s not really a play date, but we are going to visit someone. We need to go to the grocery store to get a snack for who we’re visiting, first.”

“Can we get those gluten-free pretzels at the store, to share with the friend?”

“Who we’re visiting doesn’t eat pretzels. I’m going to get a different kind of snack. You’ll see.”

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My husband pulled up the the grocery store entrance and let me out. I ran to the produce area, and asked an employee if there were any way I could get the “ugly produce” they weren’t putting out, to feed to the wild horses. The lady was confused, and asked the manager, who said, “We can’t sell that, for health code reasons.”

…I didn’t want them to sell it to me. I wanted it for free, since they’re throwing it away and don’t even compost it. But whatever. (And I have heard from people that this store will give it for this reason, which is why I asked in the first place… maybe I got the wrong employees though.)

Oh, well.

I picked up the last gigantic pillow-case sized bag of carrots, and carried it to the check-out.

Once I had paid, I hugged the carrots to my body like a toddler, and walked out onto the sidewalk, where I waited awkwardly for my husband to come back and get me. (I didn’t know where he had parked and couldn’t find the car with a quick scan.)

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“Carrots, Mommy?” Anneliese asked skeptically,” I thought we could have a different kind of snack, like maybe string cheese.”

“We’re going to visit someone who doesn’t eat string cheese. But we’re visiting someone who loves carrots.”

I buckled my seat belt, and we were off, driving down the road. As we turned onto another road, and left the buildings and houses behind, Anneliese confessed, “Well, now I don’t know where we’re going at all. Who are we visiting, anyway?”

“Someone who likes carrots… who do you think that could be?”

It was Joeys turn to chime in, and he was excited about his idea, “BUNNIES?!?! LOTS AND LOTS OF BUNNIES?!”

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After a little big more driving, I announced to the kids that I could see who we were visiting. They looked out the windows, scanning for a whole bunch of bunnies.

“HORSES!?”

We slowly drove around the sanctuary a couple of times, looking at all of the beautiful animals, before settling on a spot outside a corral filled with gorgeous wild horses.

We unloaded the kids and the carrots, and I showed the children how to hold a carrot on their flat palms, so that the horses wouldn’t accidentally nip their fingers. Anneliese was more nervous about it than Joey was, but both of them hand-fed the horses at least a couple of carrots before changing tactics and just tossing the carrots into the corral.

(My husband was a rebel and didn’t want to use the flat-palm feeding technique.)

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When our carrots were gone, and the children were sweaty from the August heat, we said goodbye to the horses and left them behind. I’m sure we’ll visit again. It was so wonderful to get to see the animals! Maybe next time, we’ll go when they’re actually open and we can get a tour and learn a little bit more about the facility.

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