Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Monthly Archives: May 2010

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Please help us extend a warm welcome to High Breeze Farm in Highland Lakes, New Jersey to the Farm Stay U.S. website.

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This family operated 165 acre farm is located adjacent to the Appalachian Trail and surrounded by Wawayanda State park, which gives it a secluded feeling while still being close to area attractions. High Breeze Farm grows organic fruits and vegetables for their CSA and farm stand, as well as 100% grass fed beef, pastured pork, and free range eggs. Their family Jersey cow provides milk and guests can enjoy the opportunity to make butter and cheese.

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The High Breeze house is a private 3 bedroom + loft home, with the capacity to sleep 12. It has a fully equipped kitchen for self-prepared meals. Guests of all ages are welcome to observe or participate in daily farm activities. Weddings, family reunions, and other special events may be held at the farm.

To learn more and plan a visit, check out the High Breeze Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy High Breeze Farm)

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Please join us in welcoming Belle Meade Farm in Sperryville, Virginia to the Farm Stay U.S. website.

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This restored Victorian farmhouse is located on 138 acres of fields, woods, and streams in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. A teaching farm with organic gardening, chickens, horses, pigs, and cows, Belle Meade Farm is a great place to renew and refresh.

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The farm has four in-house rooms, as well as a stand-alone cottage, all with private baths. Rates include a hearty breakfast. Guests of all ages are welcome, as are weddings and special events.

To learn more and plan a visit, check out the Belle Meade Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy Belle Meade Farm)

Our third Farm Stay Story was sent to us by Alison Schwartz, who is a regular visitor to East Hill Farm in Troy, New Hampshire.

East Hill Farm goat kids

My family goes to East Hill Farm every year for a weekend in the summer, and for a week right after Christmas. Even though I am 22 years old now, the chickens, goats, and sheep have not lost their appeal. I look forward to feeding them and petting them. In the summer, I spend hours outside with the animals. In the winter, I bundle up in my winter coat and feed the animals a couple of times every day.

One of our favorite things to do at East Hill Farm is see Jason Purdy perform his magic show. I have seen Jason every year for as long as I can remember. My mom runs a summer camp, and she hires him to perform at the camp every year. Last summer, she told me a funny story about two of my campers, Alana and Darren. Their parents took them to East Hill Farm for the first time, and when they saw Jason's show, they didn't raise their hands when he asked who was seeing the Magic of Jason Purdy for the first time. Their parents told them to raise their hands, and they explained that they weren't seeing Jason for the first time; they knew him from camp. So I wasn't surprised when I went into the dining hall last December and saw their family there!

What makes winter at the farm special is hanging out with old friends in the living room, in front of the fireplace, knitting and crocheting. I invited Alana to hang out with us, too. She is an avid knitter, and I was proud to show her my knitting. I was working on a blanket and a hat. I asked Alana to teach me how to make a pom-pom for the hat, and she got a fork from the dining room and showed me how to make a pom-pom using a fork!

Every year at East Hill Farm is special in its own way. December 2012 was special because in the deepest part of winter, I saw two of my favorite kids from summer camp.

East Hill Farm Inn

(Photos courtesy East Hill Farm, words copyright Alison Schwartz)

CA Bull Elk Ranch in Richfield, Idaho

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Today we are extending a hearty "welcome!" to CA Bull Elk Ranch, in Richfield, Idaho.

CA Bull Elk Ranch - elk

Located on 800 acres of pristine recreational and hunting habitat, CA Bull Elk Ranch is a working elk and upland game bird operation. Visitors can take part in fishing, hiking, bird watching and wildlife viewing, upland game bird hunting, snowshoeing and x-country skiing, photography, or just unplugging from the hectic world. There are also some of the usual farm animals, like chickens and geese.

CA Bull Elk Ranch - geese

There are four guest rooms with private baths, along with a large common area for relaxing, reading, or exercise. The stay also includes 3 meals a day prepared from food raised primarily on the ranch and by other local producers. Children under 12 are welcome at the ranch.

To learn more and plan a visit, check out the CA Bull Elk Ranch listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy CA Bull Elk Ranch)

Q&A Turtle Mist Farm, North Carolina

ss1This week we feature an interview with Ginger Sykes of Turtle Mist Farm in North Carolina. Ginger and Bob Sykes long dreamed of farming and now aim to share their love for nature and knowledge of where food really comes from with others.

FSUS: Fulfilling a long-time dream, you decided to start your farm after
working for 30 years in corporate America. Why did you choose North Carolina?

Ginger Sykes: We chose this area because it is not too far from my family in Maryland, the land prices here were unbelievable, the property is ideally located because it is rural but not too far from the city -- Our farm is 25 miles north of Raleigh.

FSUS: What's the setting like around your farm, and the landscape?

Ginger: The setting around the property is very peaceful, although we have close neighbors, while on the property you get a feeling of being in a small world all your own.  The view from the guest house overlooking the pond makes you feel like you should be sitting on the front porch in the rocking chairs sipping lemonade.

FSUS: What kind of animals are on your farm now?

Ginger: We have pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens (laying and broilers), Muscovy duck, Guineas, quail, peacocks, 2 horses, a goat, and a donkey.ss6

FSUS: Can you tell us about some of the unusual vegetables that you grow?

Ginger: Our garden is a small market garden (we grow just enough to take to the farmers market).  But because we cannot compete with the larger vegetable farmers we chose to grow different veggies.  We grow purple & white Kohlrabi (a cabbage turnip), Edamame, turmeric, Tatuma squash (just a different variety of squash), berry tomatoes (cherry tomatoes that are shaped like strawberries), malabar spinach (a summer vining spinach) mini bell peppers, Armenian cucumbers (they look and taste like cucumbers but are muskmelons).

FSUS: How did your farm get its name?

Ginger: We named the farm Turtle Mist because the pond in front of the guest has a large number of turtles in it and in the morning there's a fog that rolls across the pond.

ss10FSUS: What do most guests do during a stay on your farm?

Ginger: Most of our guests are parents with small children who want their children to have the farm experience and to learn where their food comes from.  After they tour the farm, we let them help us with our chores, i.e., gather eggs, feed the sheep and pigs, and they can help in the garden if they want.  If they don't want to work, they can fish, paddle boat, visit with and take pictures of the animals.  Our horse trainer offers horse instructions and riding.  And, depending on how long they stay, some guests visit surrounding cities (Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest).

(Photos courtesy Turtle Mist Farm)

Farm Stay Story - Spiritwind Farm

Our second Farm Stay Story was written by Andrea O'Connor, who visited Spiritwind Farm in Lebanon, Maine.

Spiritwind Farm Draft Horses

I'm so happy to have discovered Farm Stay U.S.!

I had an incredible time at Spiritwind Farm, Lebanon, Maine. A BEAUTIFULLY restored farmhouse with luxury room and private bath. They have two Shire horses Kelly and Lucy, goats Coco and Bella and babies (so cute!), chickens, pigs. I think the big pig's name is Cobble and she likes to eat giant marshmallows as the occasional treat. She's having piglets in the fall!

Kathy's goat milk soap is fabulous, the best I've ever used. She makes chèvre cheese too, which I didn't get a chance to taste as she was all sold out. Blueberry muffins, a dip in the beautiful pool after days at the nearby ocean beaches, watching the fireflies and flames in the outdoor wood fireplace!

Ahhh. So relaxing and fun.

Thank you, thank you to Farmer Kathy, farm hand Erin, and all farmers doing such importand work for us and the earth!

(Photo courtesy Spiritwind Farm, words copyright Andrea O'Connor)

Farm Stay Story - Mariposa Creamery

Our first entry in the Farm Stay Stories contest is brought to us by Helene Garcia of French Foodie Baby. This story about her family's visit to Mariposa Creamery in Altadena, California first appeared on her blog on June 19, 2013.


 

At the goat farm...

 

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The other night, at dinner time with Grandpa and Grandma, Pablo was served some pork chop with mushrooms. He happily grabbed his fork in one hand, and with the other hand, picked a mushroom from his plate. He examined it, and turned to me: “La mer?” Loosely translated as: “Does this thing I’m about to put in my mouth come from the sea?” We then had a conversation about the forest, the place where you can find bunnies, deer, trees, creeks. And mushrooms.

I felt very happy about this exchange, because I realized that Pablo is interested in where his food comes from. He knows it’s not just magically there. Not only does he know a process of shopping, and cooking went into it (which he participates in more and more), but he also knows the food grew, or lived, somewhere. And I have, without giving it much thought, just as part of our conversations at the dinner table during our family meals, pointed out to him where the things he eats do come from. Shrimp, fish, oysters from the sea. Herbs from the garden. Apricots and peaches from our market friend Sam’s trees. Cherries we picked ourselves. Eggs laid by chickens. I am very matter-of-fact about naming the meat we eat as well, whether it’s duck, chicken, lamb, etc.

Way before our children ask us where babies come from, they should ask us where their food comes from. Or at least, let’s hope they do. And let us have a good answer for them (one that does not include an unpronounceable ingredient, as Michael Pollan advises). If we want our children to eat and enjoy real, nutritious, clean foods and give them a lifelong love for them, we must 1/ have, 2/ nurture, an interest in those foods, a curiosity of the what (it is, it tastes like, smells like, feels like, looks like), the how (it was grown, made, prepared, cooked), and the where (it comes from.)

This pursuit of connection with our food, this love and interest for the sources of our food, has been so fulfilling, nourishing, as it were. And it led us a few weeks ago, to Mariposa Creamery Farm Stay, in Altadena, California.

Gloria and Steve, who both have day jobs while running this goat and farming community, welcomed us in their haven for a couple of wonderful days. By wonderful, I mean the type of vacation that makes you wonder whether that should be your full time life. Because then, every morning would be a little bit like this...


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We wake up early and step outside within a few minutes of waking. We hear the birds, and the goats in the distance. Haphazardly dressed, Pablo refuses to put shoes on and wants to go explore the vegetable garden. It exudes free growth. It’s not a perfectly trimmed garden with ranks and beds. It’s a freestyle vegetable jungle. Pablo explores, passed the tall fennel, chards, amaranth, squash flowers, around the artichokes and the shiso.


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I try to follow but his small size gives him the advantage, to explore and find treasures. And a treasure he does find. “Tomate”. There, hidden in the depths of this jungle he’s so simply made his own, hangs a small, perfectly vermilion tomato. He extends his little hand and gently picks it. We both take a bite.

Oh, that bite.

He continues on, feeling the earth on his feet. Steve greets us as he picks some chards for our breakfast. The goats bleat over there, on the other side of the big house where many people of all trades seem to evolve productively.  We walk over there. Pablo stops by the berry bush to pick a blackberry, and we meet the carpenter, whose shop is next to the creamery. He shows us how he spreads the seeds of the wild flowers around every so often. So they keep growing wild throughout the property, and they do. Bright orange and yellow blotches everywhere, which a certain goat might be allowed to exit the enclosure to enjoy, every once in a while...


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We wonder into the chicken enclosure, and find Gloria grabbing some fresh eggs for breakfast. Pablo is eager to hold one. Pablo is eager to hold two. One gets broken, so he holds on to the other one carefully. Lesson learned.

Now for another lesson, a goat milking lesson. The suggestion that I may milk the goat straight into my coffee enchants me. I follow suit.

Pablo is familiar with the milking movement, as it is also the sign for milk in sign language, which we used when he was an infant. This was always his favorite sign ;-) But he is a little intimidated by Brin, the goat we are getting our milking lesson with.


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He decides it is wiser to feed her treats while we learn. He watches baby goat Spike get some milk from Brin.

The fresh milk tastes exactly that. Fresh. It is not gamy as I expected, though I like gamy. It tastes very mild and delicious. Oh the wonderful things that can be made with that milk. And Gloria and Steve do make so many of those wonderful things here. They teach a cheese making course I am hoping to take some day. And yogurt.

We hang with the goats for a while, the 5 months old one are just about Pablo’s height. They are terribly photogenic. Dare I say hams even?

Petting, nudging, observing, climbing, jumping ensues. Kids.

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We get this sense of family. The goats, Biscuit, Apple, Ice Cream, Rhubarb among others, are raised with love and warmth. It radiates.


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It’s breakfast time. What a feast Gloria has made for us. One of our most memorable breakfasts ever. Fresh squeezed orange juice from that tree, right behind us. Homemade bread, with fresh chèvre. Homemade jam, homemade ketchup. Roasted potatoes, fresh herbs. Artisan sausage from a friend of theirs. Pablo discovers a love for sausage. And eggs of course. Sauteed chards with homemade goat feta. Goat milk yogurt. Brand new apricots deposited by a neighbor in the mailbox last night, packed in an egg crate. Juicy as can be.


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This is how people lived hundreds of years ago. This is how some people live today, right here in a suburb ofLos Angeles. And how wonderful, brave and beautiful.

After breakfast, Pablo wanders on the path in the back of the house, among the wild poppies, fruit trees and artichoke plants, holding a piece of cheese in his hand, mumbling to himself “squeeze, squeeze”, the goat milk the cheese came from.

I love that he can experience this freedom here. This rich environment.

Certainly our morning is a very romanticized version of farm life, which is tremendous hard work and commitment. But what a worthwhile venture.


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It sometimes feels like the kind of life that I want, for myself, for Pablo. At the same time, I have no idea how we could get there, or how it would fit with the other stuff our life is currently made of. Sometimes we must make choices. As long as we don’t live by default. Food for thought, for now.


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Words and photographs copyright Helene Garcia / French Foodie Baby 2013.

Tell us your farm stay stories

Travelers! We want to hear from you... tell us all about your U.S. farm and ranch stay adventures and you could win $100 from Farm Stay U.S.!

This promotion is running through September 30th, and there will be three winners - one each in the months of July, August, and September.

Read on for more details...

Walpole Valley Farms - boy with chickens

To Enter

1. Assemble your story -- you can write, put together a photo essay, or film a video all about your overnight vacation at a working U.S. farm, ranch, or vineyard.

2. Send it to us at Farm Stay U.S.

That's it! Your submission may be posted here on our blog, and you'll be entered to win $100.

The Rules & Other Bits of Info You Need to Know

1. Submitting your content to us gives us the right to post it on our website, in our newsletter, and to link to it in various social media outlets.

2. Your submission may be edited for length, content, or clarity.

3. The farm, ranch, or vineyard stay you are sharing with us must be currently operating in the United States, Canada, District of Columbia, Central America, or the U.S. Territories.

4. The $100 prize winners will be selected at our discretion.

We can't wait to read all about your adventures!

(Photo courtesy The Inn at Valley Farms)

Please join us in extending a warm Farm Stay U.S. welcome to Heirloom Blooms at Acres Wild Ranch!

Heirloom Blooms - Collecting Bugs

Take a bite out of history! Explore and enjoy the heirloom vegetables and herb gardens, and the heritage fruit tree orchard. Learn about sustainability through composting, recycling, and energy/water conservation. Take a hike on the nature trail and view some wildlife. It's a "choose your own adventure" kind of vacation.

Heirloom Blooms goats

There are four guest cottages at Acres Wild Ranch, sleeping anywhere from 4 to 6 people, and pets are welcome for an additional fee. Meals are self-prep, and the cottages all have either a kitchenette or a full kitchen. The ranch offers a wide range of amenities, and they welcome children under 12, wedding parties, and other special events.

To learn more and start planning your adventure, visit the Heirloom Blooms at Acres Wild Ranch listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!


(Photos courtesy Heirloom Blooms)

Here's a very belated welcome to M Diamond Ranch, a new member of Farm Stay U.S., who joined the site back in January!

M Diamond Ranch 1

It's "horseback riding heaven" at this 100-year-old working cattle ranch, with trail rides and cowboy cookouts, featuring some of the best views in Sedona. The ranch is completely surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, rural but not too remote, and close to a number of archaeological sites.

The historic, 1930s guest house has a fully equipped, full-sized kitchen, and sleeps up to 10 people. The five bedroom house is updated and comfortable, with amenities like a flat screen tv, wireless internet, and a full size washer and dryer. Even the horses can stay at the ranch's Horse Hotel!

M Diamond Ranch 2

To learn more about M Diamond Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing.

(Photos courtesy M Diamond Ranch)