A farm that began in 1786 is still being run today, seven generations later, by Frank and Sherry Hull and their sons. The Hull-O Farm and family have dedicated over 200 years to their farming heritage and have been recognized by New York State as a National Bicentennial Farm. With hundreds of acres under cultivation, they grow forage for their own livestock and provide feed for wildlife that often can be seen from their wrap around porch they've recently added to their farmhouse.
Accommodating to friends and families, Hull-O Farms and Family Farm Vacations offer three private guest houses. Guests have the option to share the family farm experience and join for a country-style breakfast, dinner or dessert in their 19th-century upstate New York farmhouse. Most guests don’t pass up on all you can eat buttermilk pancakes that melt in your mouth, farm fresh produce and all natural grass fed meats. You’re also invited to hayrides for the whole family, fishing in their farm pond and bonfires with s’mores under the starlit sky. For more information and frequently asked questions you can visit their FAQ section of their website.
(The Rose) - A short walk from the barns is this inviting two bedroom country home. It’s equipped with a full kitchen, full bath and living room with fully finished pine floors (lumber used was harvested from their own forests).
(The Austin, named after Grandpa Hull) – Located on the hill at the very edge of their 300 acre farm you’ll find their country chalet with a private floor just for you. This two bedroom home comes with a full bath, living and dining area. There is no formal kitchen, but a microwave and small refrigerator are provided. Make your way up to the 32-foot second story deck overlooking their scenic Durham Valley, an image you will cherish long after your visit.
(The Gifford, named after Grandma Hull) – This two story four bedroom country-style home is walking distance from the barns with a deck that overlooks their grazing cattle in the meadows. Equipped with a full kitchen, full bath, sun porch and living room the Gifford makes a fantastic stay for the whole family.
A farm stay at Hull-O Farms isn't just a vacation; it’s an educational experience for you and the whole family. Don’t worry learning on the farm is fun! Adults and children love the hands-on experience they receive interacting with farm animals and helping with daily chores. Did you know that you hold the bottle differently when feeding baby goats than you do for lambs?
The Hull-O family love having guests, but so do their farm friends. You’ll get to meet and interact with a number of farm animals: Cattle, heritage pigs, pot-bellied pig, jersey calf, goats, lambs, turkeys, ducklings, red deer, horses and even cuddly kittens and puppies.
Life on the farm isn’t all work and no play. After chores are finished there are plenty of downtime activities from hay rides, a mystery corn maze and badminton to hammock resting, nature walks and relaxing around the campfire.
If you plan to venture off the farm, there are a number of nearby attractions. Ranked among Americas top five “show caves”, Howe Caverns is only a 45 minute drive away. If water parks are your thing, Zoom Flume, New York’s #1 family water park is just a minute drive from the farm. Horseback riding, cruises, shopping, casinos and many historic attractions are also fun options for Hull-O Farm guests.
Plan your next farm and family adventure at Hull-O Farms. For more information and booking visit the following: Hull-O Farm Website,Farm Stay Profile,Reservations.
Photo Credit: Hull-O Farms
Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm lies on twelve acres of farm land located 10 miles from Daytona Beach in beautiful Port Orange, Florida. The owners, Fran and Vern, have lived there for about 15 years now. They had been talking about raising alpacas for a long time, but it wasn’t until eight years ago that they decided to go for it and purchased over 100 alpacas. “They are the sweetest animals,” Fran said during our phone interview. You could tell by the sincerity in her voice that she and her family love what they do. Now, as a family run full service alpaca farm they pride themselves in educating their many visitors about Alpacas and creating a farm experience they won’t forget.
Alpaca farming is still fairly new in the United States, but the industry is rapidly gaining popularity. Native to South America, alpacas are used for meat, leather and fiber; however, in the United States they’re solely used for their fiber material, fleece. At Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm they carefully raise and breed their alpacas to ensure the best possible genetics. They offer alpacas for sale and a variety of fiber products.
Chantilly Ridge Alpacas are involved in a number of events, tours and community oriented activities giving you multiple options to learn more about the farm, get to know the local farmers and gain the farm experience. Located out in the country, but only a few miles to I-95, Chantilly offers a great place to get away from it all but still gives the option of visiting Florida’s many tourist attractions.
They are involved at multiple farmers markets, one every Thursday at the local Port Orange market and another every Saturday. You can also find them at the county fair, which they are invited to participate in for the whole ten days of the event. Volusia County also puts together a free farm tour in November where guests can visit multiple participating farms and ranches and meet the local farmers who provide the tour of their farms. Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm had over 350 visitors during last year’s county farm tour. They also love giving back to the community with visits from children groups, schools, churches and boy and girl scouts. The scouts love to camp out in their pasture!
If you desire a more personable experience, Chantilly Ridge Farm offers a Farm Stay that has room for up to six guests. With a king suite and the option of a twin bedroom with a joint bathroom, it’s great for couples or family getaways. They also have a pool and pool house for relaxing or family fun. They are currently in the planning stages of turning their pool house into a one bedroom apartment to expand their farm stay options.
With chickens, two pot belly pigs, a donkey, ducks, bunnies and of course alpacas this farm has a variety of farm animals for kids and families to enjoy and play with!
You can enjoy a peaceful farm getaway and still enjoy the many attractions Florida has to offer. From the sand between your toes and family fun beach activities, to adventure tours and wildlife sighting to community events and nightlife, you’ll find it all in the beautiful state of Florida.
For more information visit Chantilly Ridge's Website or Farm Stay Site. For booking information call Fran or Vern at 386-767-0577
Photo Credit: (Chantilly Ridge Alpacas Farm, Visit Florida)
Four miles south of Galena, completely surrounded by 500ft ridges and away from bright city lights and traffic you’ll find Ruth and Frank Netzel’s working Adventure Creek Alpaca and Goldendoodle Farm. Sitting on 45 secluded acres their farm has 12 hand-made log cabins perfect for a relaxing getaway. The farm's central location makes for an easy trip to tour the Mississippi River and Casper Bluff.
Local experts in relaxing, Ruth and Frank invite you to come and do the same! Experience beautiful sights, spectacular sunsets, soothing sounds and smells of nature and their star lit sky at night all in one stay at Adventure Creek Farm.
Each cabin is 800+ square feet. With queen beds on each main floor, a double bed in the loft, a gas log fireplace and a large separate bathroom with a double whirlpool bathtub you get to call this warm and cozy cabin your home for the duration of your stay. Their cabins offer the rustic look and feel with modern conveniences including: satellite TV, refrigerator, microwave and central heating. At night take a look out the four foot skylight and enjoy the night sky illuminated with stars.
Cabins are all hand-chinked hewn logs of cedar and red pine with pine floors and ceilings. Major parts are constructed without nails and loft beams are exposed to give a natural feel and cabin experience.
The Netzel’s love showing and answering any questions their visitors have about their alpacas. Their quiet, friendly and curious nature makes them great with families and children. Upon arrival and throughout your visit these alpacas are here to welcome and entertain you. You also have the option of hand feeding or taking them for a walk, which tend to be farm favorite activities for both the guests and alpacas.
Ruth and Frank also raise and breed goldendoodles, which are hybrid dogs. They breed male golden retrievers with female poodles to create these adorable, loyal and lovable dogs. If you’d like you can check out one of their litters of 11 puppies from this short video available Goldendoodle Pups Video.
If you happen to visit in the early spring, morel mushrooms pop up for a few weeks. They go for about $75 per pound at your produce market! Yes, guests have found them on their property and yes guests are allowed to pick them as long as they tell the owners where they found them.
Adventure Creek Farm offers a number of activities on and close by their property. From hiking the winding creek that passes through their 45 acres and enjoying nature and wildlife along the way to touring the nearby Mississippi River, Casper Bluffs and local wineries and towns.
Famous for its beautiful fall colors and rolling hills, storybook winters and star gazing and adventure seeking springs and summers, Jo Daviess County and Adventure Creek Alpaca and Goldendoodle Farm is the perfect destination for anytime of the year.
Adventure Creek Alpaca & Goldendoodle Farm have had guests from all over the world with nothing but good things to say.
"Having the opportunity to meet you during our trip was one of the more remarkable moments of it. You both are kind and pleasant folks. If someday you drop by our country, give us a call! Best regards," E. E. M. & H - Brazil
"What a superb place for a family celebration. Frank & Ruth, a very big thank you for your hospitality. A memorable weekend. We will travel back to England with fond memories." T, C, P & A - England
"This place is a wonderful getaway! Our time here was too short. We danced under the moonlight, got cozy by the bonfire, fed the alpacas, and breathed in the fresh air --- rejuvenated our souls. Thank you to Ruth & Frank for providing this great experience. Looking forward to visiting again. Good things..." C & B – US
"We want to appreciate you for all your kindness! The cabin is beautiful; it's so cozy and warm, I felt like I'm at home. We had great breakfast; it was so nice of you to bring that lovely basket with food! The cabins are close to ski resort where we spent unbelievable day of snowboarding." O, A, A, V & Z – Lativa & Moldova
For more information and reservations visit their Farm Stay Site or website Galena Log Cabins and if you’ve already made your decision you can Book Now. From relaxing getaways to family vacations to couples retreats, Adventure Creek Farm Stay and its surrounding areas offer a destination for just about anyone.
Photo Credit: (Adventure Creek Alpaca & Goldendoodle Farm, Galena Log Cabins, Galena.org)
Rustridge Winery & Ranch is the getaway from getaways as one of their guests called it. Rustridge is a vineyard, winery, thoroughbred racehorse ranch and a bed and breakfast. Just 20 minutes from Napa Valley’s Silverado Trail, the once large racehorse ranch is now a combination of the owners, Jim and Susan’s, two passions wine and horses. They continue to breed and race thoroughbreds and have over 20 years of experience producing award winning wine.
Cooler nights and higher elevation allow for a later harvest than most grapes in Napa Valley which gives the distinct quality and flavor you’ll have to try and enjoy for yourself!
Rustridge Ranch & Winery is known for their organically grown grapes and award winning wine. They offer a variety of wines through their Rustridge, Racehorse and Library selections including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The Rustridge wines are their current barrel selected premium wines that bring out the best elements of the Chiles Valley. Their Racehorse selection includes their everyday wines. The Racehorse Red is a blend of Zinfandel and Carbenet and the white is a Chardonnay with a touch of oak. A collection of both Rustridge and Racehorse wines make up their aged Library wines. More information on their selections, wine purchases and Rustridge Wine Club memberships can be found at their website (Rustridge.com).
In order to exercise the young horses they run them through the vineyard aisles. Fifty acres stretching down the valley make for a great run. For strength, they run the horses up and down the steep hills that ring their valley.
When visiting the ranch, make sure you take advantage of the wine tasting, property tour and the many other activities they have to offer. The tastings are by appointment so make sure you plan ahead of time and reserve a spot (Schedule Your Tastings). If you’d like, you can learn about breeding and training horses or the process of growing grapes and making wine. Another option is to take a hike through the vineyard and the surrounding hills and enjoy beautiful views and bird watching or bring a bottle of wine, set up a picnic and just relax.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway you’ve found it. The Rustridge Bed & Breakfast offers a sunlit breakfast room with a ranch-style breakfast to start off the day right. Tennis, hiking, barbequing and other fun farm activities are available throughout the day. Take the edge off lounging in the sun by the pool or relaxing in the eucalyptus sauna. Then gather in the country kitchen for an evening of Rustridge wine sampling and hors d’oeuvres.
The B & B offers several options for overnight stays including bedrooms with comfortable queen size featherbeds, private bathrooms, adjoining rooms, beautiful views and direct access to the pool and sauna. For more information and availability look at their options here (Rustridge Bed & Breakfast).
It’s hard to beat a nice warm and cozy fireplace in the bedroom, a private deck looking out over some amazing views and access to a relaxing sauna. Add a bottle of wine and you’ll think you’ve found paradise.
Your getaway from getaways is here at Rustridge Ranch and Winery. For more information on the ranch and booking information here is a link to their Farm Stay profile.
Photo Credit: Rustride Ranch & Winery
Over the July 4th weekend this year, a young friend came to visit the farm. He'd been following my Instagram account for a while, and was looking forward to seeing the animals and participating in a few of the chores... a big departure from his day-to-day life as a suburban kid from Southern California.
As we prepared to walk through the loafing shed and let the sheep out into the pasture for the day, he asked me to tell him what was poop, so he could avoid stepping in it.
"It's ALL poop," was my (unhelpful?) reply.
The boy gazed down at his shoes for a moment, then shrugged and followed me out.
Real talk? It's all poop. And mud and itchy straw and blood that accompanies not just wounds but birth. It's tender plants burnt by the sun, and hay fields ruined by unexpected rain. Or, you know, plants nourished by rain and haystacks perfectly dried by the sun.
Why are we having some real talk here? Recent articles in Grist and Modern Farmer claim that agritourism is romanticizing farming to a degree that becomes harmful to the sustainability of our small farms. Both articles focus heavily on farm weddings and professional photographs of brides and grooms lounging in straw (itchy! sneezy!), and how dirty and smelly a farm can be. The Modern Farmer writer bemoans "the glorification of the quaint farm aesthetic". That's pretty funny coming from a magazine that sells a twelve dollar jam spatula and limited edition muck boots in their online store.
Both writers seem to be implying that a farmer cannot be both grower and hostess, while maintaining the integrity of her farming operation.
The Grist writer says she tries not to idealize in her writing, concerned that a pretty picture of farm life does a disservice to the visitor or reader, hiding the financial, social, and environmental complexities of farming. We think a farmer's story should be an honest one, yes, but we also believe that diversifying income for small farms only makes sense. The old idiom "don't put all your eggs in one basket" comes to mind. Weddings, overnight guests, and farm-to-table dinners are simply another chapter in the farmer's story. That would be the chapter where the farmer gets to keep the farm because he's not depending solely on good market prices for his products.
Back to the weddings for a minute. COME ON. We aren't immune to gently poking fun at photos that show very clean people performing farming chores, but wedding photographs are always quixotic and romantic. WEDDING. It doesn't matter if the event takes place in a barn or on a beach (yuck, all that sand everywhere), the photographs are going to be pretty and golden-hued. That's what a bride wants, and that's what a venue wants to show future guests. It's memory, and promise, and beauty in the rustic, and should a farmer apologze for providing a setting that people want?
Photos of brides kicking up their cowboy-booted heels with just a touch of lens-flare halo kissing the hay field... well, we say that's as legitimate a story as unrelenting blood and mud. And smells. Yes, sometimes the actual experience includes the aroma of livestock wafting over the newlyweds and their guests. That's real.
We've been working on Farm Stay U.S. (now known as the U.S. Farm Stay Association) for four years now. It's been our experience that most farm stay guests are disabused of lingering notions of romantic farm life once they see the hard (smelly, dirty) work that goes into growing produce and livestock. But they still love their time on the farm. Many return year after year, happy to visit and learn and lend a hand. They're happy that their vacation dollars are infused into a rural economy.
They keep their romantic views of the peace and quiet, the stars at night. They gain an understanding of the cycle of life and death and an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us every day. Farm stay owners want to share this with urbanite travelers because we think that what we have is pretty special - even all that compost. Er... poop.
Nearly a mile high in the Southern Cascades, 440 acre Willow-Witt Ranch offers an experience you won’t forget. Whether you’re there for the spectacular views, a family-friendly farm stay full of activities, an event hosted on the ranch, or simply to just get away and relax, you’ll find it all at this off-grid ranch.
Through sustainable agricultural and forest management, energy independence, and wetland restoration, Willow-Witt Ranch has created quite the traveler’s dream of a rural getaway. This family-friendly ranch is a great place to bring friends and the kids along, but also offers a peaceful secluded location for couples and adults who just want to get away from it all.
Before Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt took over stewardship and named their Willow-Witt Ranch, dairy cows and beef cattle grazed this ranch valley for more than 100 years. Restoration included fencing livestock out of critical wetland habitat, prioritizing forest planting and re-growth, and practicing sustainable farm management. In 2009 the ranch was recognized with the Watershed Friendly Steward Award. For a more in-depth history of the ranch, you can visit its website here (Ranch History)
The ranch offers an array of goods, including farm-fresh eggs, goat milk, a variety of meats and organic compost.
Willow-Witt is a community supported agricultural ranch with sustainably-raised and organically fed livestock. If you spend the night at one of the multiple farm stay options, make sure to request a grocery list of farm-grown meats and vegetables and your fridge will be stocked for your arrival. Willow-Witt is hugely involved with the Ashland Growers’ Farmers Market. You can also browse through their online farm store and get a look at what they have to offer (Online Farm Store).
From birding and hiking miles of wooded trails with pack goats to farm stays, tours, and the occasional weekend event hosted on the farm, Willow-Witt is full of family-friendly and community-oriented activities.
Kids and adults are more than welcome to help out with chores, which they often end up enjoying. Who would have thought that doing chores could be so much fun! Playing with the farm animals and gardening are two other farm favorite activities for guests on the ranch.
Willow-Witt offers a variety of ways to stay on the farm: a furnished farmhouse studio with loft, the Meadow House, deluxe platform tents, and, if you want to pitch a tent, there are private campsites nestled within the trees.
The Farmhouse Studio sleeps up to six, features a wood stove and full kitchen and overlooks beautiful meadows.
The Meadow House, a beautiful three bedroom two bath is available for farm stay or just the day for events.
Glamping, or glamorous camping, is another vacation option on the ranch. Platform tents and campsites come with the use of a fully equipped kitchen, hot showers, towels, bathrooms, and a complimentary tour of the farm.
Your next adventure starts here. Plan your trip and (Book Now). If you’d like more information, check out their (Farm Stay profile here).
(Photo Credit: Willow-Witt Ranch)
Westgate River Ranch is located on 1700 acres in Central Florida, just an hour from Orlando. Not your typical cattle-wrangling operation, Westgate provides plenty of family opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with everything from a petting corral and rodeo to swamp buggy rides and trap and skeet shooting.
We fired off some questions to the ranch to find out exactly what they have to offer.
Believe it or not, Florida actually served as the original birthplace of the American cowboy. Long before cowboys became the symbol of the American West in the late 19th century, Seminole Indians, Spanish colonists and American settlers called “Crackers” herded cattle in Florida. Westgate River Ranch is located on some of the same land that those first cowboys roamed years ago.
In the early 1700s, American settlers began migrating to Florida out of the Carolinas and Georgia. These early settlers quickly took advantage of the wild cattle roaming the state. They often were called “cow catchers” because they would capture the wild cattle and build herds from them that they would drive to the seaports of Florida and sell to the Spanish that were sailing in from Cuba and Puerto Rico. The cattle would be taken back to Cuba and Puerto Rico to stock the ranches of the Spanish islands and be used as a food source.
These first American cowboys eventually became known as “cracker cowboys” and the Spanish cattle and horses that they made their living with were called “cracker horses” and “cracker cattle.”
The area that became known as River Ranch once served as a stopping point along the trail for the cracker cowboys during their cattle drives across the state. They would meet each other here at certain times of the year and bring together the small herds of wild cattle that they had caught into one large herd. By doing that they could help each other get those cattle to market.
River Ranch was originally built in the 1960s by Gulf American Corp. (GAC), then one of the largest land developers in the state, as the centerpiece of a huge proposed development in the area called “River Ranch Acres.” In 2001, Westgate Resorts purchased River Ranch and Westgate River Ranch reopened its doors the following year.
Westgate River Ranch, which has evolved into the largest dude ranch East of the Mississippi, lies on 1,700 beautiful acres and is surrounded on all sides by approximately 400,000 acres of state and federally protected wetlands. We are located about an hour south of Orlando – easily accessible by car and RV.
We cater to couples, families and groups. We are extremely child friendly with endless activities.
We have an abundance of activities on offer at the ranch – horse back riding, air boat rides, swamp buggy rides, archery range, basketball, boat rentals, dinner hayride, fishing, full service marina, mechanical bull, nine hole golf course, petting farm, pony rides, trap & skeet range, video arcade, horseshoes, tennis, outdoor pool.
A huge favorite among the kids in particular is our adventure park which features a bungee jumper, mini-golf, rock climbing wall and zip-line We also have a ropes course which can cater for group/corporate team building events.
The live Rodeo takes place every Saturday night and is open to guests and the public alike. (Additional fee for ticket applies). It draws rodeo athletes from all over to compete in trick riding, calf roping, barrel racing and, of course, bull riding.
Plus the fun doesn’t stop once the rodeo ends! If you feel bull riding isn’t that tough, take a spin on our new Mechanical Bull. Or get your feet moving to the lively Dance Party just outside the River Ranch Saloon where you’ll hear music and games from a lively DJ to end a perfect day.
We neglected to ask about the food but, after-the-fact, found out that the Smokehouse Grill restaurant serves excellent smoked BBQ. The onsite General Store serves breakfast, salads, deli sandwiches, pizza, beverages as well as offers sundries and groceries. Future plans (sometime this year) include a renovation of the Saloon (located next to the Rodeo) to convert it to a steakhouse, bar and live music venue.
So, while this might not be the typical farm or ranch stay, there's plenty to enjoy from sunrise to sundown. In fact you can book your reservation right here right now, then head out to the ranch, jump on a horse and ride into a bit of Florida history, if only for the afternoon.
(Photo credits: Westgate River Ranch)
Gently rolling Kentucky bluegrass and antebellum charm abound for guests who visit The Farm, LLC in Danville, Kentucky, an 1825 working farm home with a modern addition.
Roy and Angela Martin are the owners and hosts at The Farm, LLC, and Angela tells us that Roy has "always been a farmer, like his father and grandfather before him." Roy is a cattle rancher, raising mostly Angus cows. Over the years, they've added chickens (and an egg business), goats, and a couple of Jersey dairy cows which provide milk for farm-made butter, cheese, and yogurt.
Other animals include ducks, rabbits, guineas, pigs, kittens, Great Pyrenees dogs, and a peacock family!
Angela and Roy love to give their guests a true farming experience with a daily barn tour, milking goats, collecting chicken eggs, or - depending on the time of year - taking part in an instructional class such as cooking, canning, and making butter or cheese.
But guests don't have to stick to farming... the property has a pond and two walking trails, as well as sitting porches for relaxing, and a tire swing and playhouse for kids. In the evening, there's a bonfire and stargazing (and fresh goats milk ice cream!) Offsite adventures - if you can tear yourself away - include the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and Keeneland.
The Farm, LLC offers 7 large in-house rooms for guests, with spacious formal and informal dining and entertainment areas, and multiple fully equipped kitches. For private lodging, there is "Belle's Cottage" (that's Belle in the photo above, next to her namesake cottage), which sleeps 4 and has a kitchenette and bathroom.
To learn more about what The Farm, LLC has to offer, check out their listing here on Farm Stay U.S. - fun, relaxation, and a good old fashioned farm experience in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region await!
(Photos courtesy The Farm, LLC)
NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!
Farm Stay U.S. was happy to welcome Waihuena Farm in Haleiwa, Hawaii to the site in 2013.
Just across the street from Pipeline, neighboring the Pupukea Paumalu nature reserve, Waihuena Farm runs a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program featuring their organically managed crops. The farm is also host to a weekly yoga class and monthly permaculture workshops and events, including guest chef dinners.
Waihuena Farm has a lodge, which can sleep up to 12 people, a beach house, which sleeps up to 6, and also welcomes campers. Guests of all ages are invited to stay.
To learn more and plan your farm stay in Hawaii, visit the Waihuena Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S. Aloha!
(Photos courtesy Waihuena Farm)
Sorry! Mariposa Creamery has closed their farm stay doors since we put up this post.
Sorry! Mariposa Creamery has closed their farm stay doors since we put up this post.
Mariposa Creamery is a small micro-dairy offering a farm stay in the middle of the historic Zane Grey Estate in Altadena, California. Who would have thought you could take a real farm vacation in the Los Angeles suburbs?
Besides being able to stay overnight on the farm, guests can opt in for cheese-making classes and a chance to taste a variety of the cultured milk products produced by the resident Nubian goats. Goats are milked twice a day and guests are allowed to try their hand. It's harder than it looks, but the goats are patient teachers.
Great for couples or young families with at most two small kids (due to the size of the Airtream trailer that resides in the middle of the garden), Mariposa Creamery has been selected by Airbnb as one of the Top 40 on its Wishlist. Could it be they were chosen because their promotional photo shows baby goats in front of the Airstream? Or could it be just the most interesting, fun, natural, foodie stay in LA - and for only $169 per night?!
We sat down with Gloria Putnam, goat herder/cheesemaker/farmer to find out more about her farm oasis and what it's like to be an urban farmer.
We are in a suburban neighborhood. About 15 minutes from downtown LA. And only 5 minutes from the hiking trails of the Angeles National Forest.
The Estate is on the National Register of Historic Places, both because the western author Zane Grey lived (and died) here, and also because it was built by architect Myron Hunt, who is most famous for building the Rose Bowl in Pasadena but also for building many other commercial and residential structures in the area and was an early pioneer in poured-in-place concrete construction.
The property has no history of farming before our project. But it's an ideal location for a suburban farm because the lot size is large compared to most properties, and Altadena has zoning laws that allow livestock. Altadena is kind of an urban farming hot spot in Los Angeles.
The most popular activity is the morning goat milking. Guests can watch or get a private goat milking lesson. Many students plan their visit around a food crafting class offered on the Estate by the Institute of Domestic Technology. Others arrange for private cheese making instruction.
Off farm, guests enjoy visiting the nearby Huntington Gardens and hiking in the mountains. We have a collection of ruminant-related DVDs in the Airstream that are also very popular!
Our Bambi is the smallest trailer made by Airstream--only 16ft. Think Tiny House size. The main bed is a little bit more narrow than a full, so fine for a couple that doesn't mind a night of snuggling. The dinette also folds down into a smaller bed. We've had up to families of 4 work it out, but that's a little bit tight. Families of 3 and couples are the most common guests.
We've been farming here for about 7 years. Our dairy goats are the main focus, but we also keep chickens and quail, and have a reasonably sized vegetable garden and herb garden. We were motivated initially by just wanting good food. But now I think we are mainly motivated by our love of our animals, and an appreciation for the magic of what they do: make milk out of grass!
I love milk. And goats seemed an obvious choice since our space is relatively small compared to most farms. Our goats are Nubians, so they make especially rich milk, which is great for drinking but also high-yielding for cheese.
The most fun part of small-scale farming for me is learning something new, since I didn't grow up on a farm. I love learning about the goats, how to best keep them happy and healthy, and how to make the best use of their generous offerings. I'm a scientist by training, so cheese making is a natural hobby for me.
Our farm's focus is education. We don't sell our milk or cheese although farmstay guests get to enjoy both while they are here. We teach cheese making classes and operate a dairy internship program for locals. There aren't many farms or ranches near Los Angeles, so it's a great place to invite people to come and see what what small scale farming is like. Everyone who visits is surprised by how friendly the goats are. The most common comment I get is "They are just like dogs!" Except dogs don't give you their milk!
So ended our conversation with Mariposa Creamery, obviously great lovers of goats, hanky-panky aside. Did we forget to say that their Mariposa Creamery Facebook page is full of the daily antics of their four-legged friends, including sneaking in through windows into the kitchen and getting stuck in all manner of things?! A visit to this farm is sure to bring some peace into the middle of an LA stay, but also a few tales to tell!
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