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: June 2010

Your hosts at Rancho Dos Amantes, located in Paso Robles, California truly do it all. There are the TWO farm gardens, goats and chickens, and cooking experiences in their Red Barn Kitchen. Wedding parties can rent out the entire 40-acre ranch (also available to family reunions, corporate retreats, group getaways and so on), and, last but not least, there is the Farm Stay B&B!

RDA Casitas

Guests at Rancho Dos Amantes can choose to stay in one of the two casitas or in a private 2nd floor studio apartment with full kitchen inside the barn. The barn also houses a professional kitchen downstairs, which is not only used for cooking experiences and private events, but is available to all guests renting casitas.

RDA-RedBarnKitchen

With access to the large guest garden and this kitchen, you might never want to leave! The guest garden features fruit and olive trees, raised beds and in-ground crops, flowers, and a two-tiered patio for relaxing and socializing.

RDA-Gardens

Tucked between Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento, Rancho Dos Amantes is part of a vibrant community in and around Paso Robles. With over 200 local wineries plus shopping, breweries, farmers' markets (two!), dining, and entertainment, guests will never be short of something to do -- if they can tear themselves away from the farm, that is. Day trippers can head to the coast and tour the famous Hearst Castle or visit the beach towns of Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria, and San Simeon.

RDA-goatbeesegg

Finally, we must mention the weddings. What a backdrop for a wedding! Just take a look at the farm's photo galleries: Venue Gallery and Wedding Gallery (both links will take you to their website). By renting out the entire ranch to the wedding party, guests are assured a private and comfortable celebration in a beautiful setting.

RanchoDosAmantesInstagram

To learn more about Rancho Dos Amantes, visit their listing here on Farm Stay U.S., and then head to their website to start planning your California getaway!

Photos provided by Rancho Dos Amantes

Snow Day!

red barn in snow

Red barn in the snow; by janylee at morguefile


You may not know that the Farm Stay U.S. HQ farm is located in the pacific northwest, in a part of Oregon that is generally pretty mild, weather-wise. We get a lot of rain (the farm stay host here says spring is lambing season, and fall/winter is mud season), but only occasional snow.

Like right now!

Bandita in the snow

Bandita; by Kate Rivera


Not even enough to hide all the grass underneath.

Of course, farmers still have a job to do, even in the coldest, snowiest weather. Water troughs freeze, livestock needs to be fed, fencing may need repair, branches may have come down and need clearing... but that doesn't mean a FUN farm vacation in the winter time is out of the question!

We headed to our search page and came up with a few ideas for your cold-weather getaway. Click each link to see which farms and ranches can be "home base" for some snowy adventures:

1. Ice Skating

2. Dog Sledding

3. Maple Sugaring

4. Snowmobiling and Snowshoeing

5. X-Country Skiing

snow chores

P.S. Maybe you'd rather go to Hawaii or Southern California and just forget about the snow!

Dyed in the Wool - Shepherdess LaVonne Stuckey

Meet LaVonne Stuckey, shepherdess and farm stay host at Serenity Sheep Farm Stay.

"The farms are dying. They're going away, and that's when I realized I needed to share my history and my heritage and my husband's heritage."

Check out LaVonne's "little piece of sanctuary" in the video below!

Dyed In the Wool, Shepherdess LaVonne Stucky from Outlaw Partners on Vimeo.

Want a fun and rustic getaway that's like visiting grandma on her farm? Check out Willow Creek Ranch Farm Stay in Mountain Ranch, California!

WillowCreek1

Located halfway between Modesto and Sacramento near the Stanislaus National Forest, Willow Creek Ranch offers a nostalgic trip back in time to grandma's working farm. Guests can get their hands dirty and pitch in with various chores, like gathering eggs, working in the garden, or pitching hay to cows, or they can opt to just sit back and relax with a book, or go for a swim in the small above-ground pool.

WillowCreek5

Hosts Cathie and John Orr truly love to share their lifestyle with guests and teach a few things along the way. The farm raises milk cows, so when there's fresh milk available, there are also opportunities to milk a cow and feed a calf, make butter, and learn how to make your own mozzarella cheese. When there's produce in the garden, you can learn how to preserve food either by canning or freezing. Every seaon brings unique activities!

WillowCreek2

The two bedroom cabin accommodates up to eight guests, and John and Cathie also allow camping on their property if you want to bring your own tent. The cabin also features a kitchenette with the necessary dishes and kitchen utensils, so you can choose to cook on your own, or add breakfast and/or dinner to your farm stay experience and enjoy Cathie's home cooking.

The farm has also recently added a 20x20 foot tent to accommodate large parties!

WillowCreek3

You can see more of Willow Creek Ranch on America's Heartland! Click here to watch episode 1109, streaming on the America's Heartland website.

To learn more about Willow Creek Ranch Farm Stay, visit their listing here on Farm Stay U.S., then head over to their website to book next year's vacation!

Welcome signs painted by guests

Welcome signs painted by guests of
Willow Creek Ranch Farm Stay

Six Farm Stays to Follow on Instagram

It can be difficult to say goodbye to your new "farm family" when vacation is over. You want to hang on to that feeling - the connection and quietude.

Farmers are sharing their daily lives with increasing frequency via social media, and one of our favorite ways to see what they're up to is to follow on Instagram. Here, in no particular order, are six farms (with farm stays) to follow on Instagram right now!

1. Toddy Pond Farm in Monroe, Maine

Sharing a mix of photos from animals, to farm projects, to products available for sale (dying to try their yogurt!), Toddy Pond Farm gives you a great glimpse into their diversified family farm and micro dairy.

ToddyPondFarmInstagram

See their listing on Farm Stay U.S.: Toddy Pond Farm

 

2. Rancho Dos Amantes in Paso Robles, California

This one is - so far - for all the wedding daydreamers out there. The Instagrammers at this beautiful central California wine country farm have focused their lenses on the happy couples and pastoral ambiance of farm stay weddings.

RanchoDosAmantesInstagram

See their listing on Farm Stay U.S.: Rancho Dos Amantes

 

3. Stillwaters Farm in Henderson, Tennessee

Follow along with farm stay host Valeria as she furnishes an Airstream glamping trailer, builds and furnishes a bath house for guests, or makes soap for her on-farm shop. Also making appearances are the livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) and the gorgeous Tennessee farm scenery.

StillwatersInstagram

See their listing on Farm Stay U.S.: Stillwaters Farm

 

4. The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm in Skamokawa, Washington

The photos posted on this Instagram account are alllllll about the food. Hosts Don and Kitty Speranza are professional chefs who now operate a 15 acre working farm. Holy cannoli!

CrippenCreekFarmInstagram

See their Farm Stay U.S. listing: The Inn at Crippen Creek Farm

 

5. Inn at Valley Farms in Walpole, New Hampshire

The Inn at Valley Farms posts a little bit of everything. Weddings, farm animals, scenery, mushrooms. You'll easily experience every season on this working organic farm via Instagram.

ValleyFarmsInstagram

See their Farm Stay U.S. listing: Inn at Valley Farms

 

6. Stony Creek Farmstead in Walton, New York

"Let your family free range" is the hashtag you'll find on many of the photos from Stony Creek Farmstead. The animals aren't the only ones who get to free-range! Here you'll find farm stay guests helping out with the chores, photos of the "plush-rustic" platform tents, farm hands, barn kitties, and more.

StonyCreekFarmstead

See their Farm Stay U.S. listing: Stony Creek Farmstead

This is a start, but by no means the only farm stays on Instagram. We'll definitely have another post coming up soon, with even more accounts to follow! Meanwhile, make sure you also follow Farm Stay U.S. on Instagram! We mostly re-gram from our farm stay members, so it's a great way to find new places to add to your must-visit lists.

Why Stay on a Farm?

The Importance of Farm Stays - for you AND the farm

My husband and I bought our Oregon farm 14 years ago. We were Phoenix urbanites looking for water and a change of pace. That’s about as far as we delved into what exactly being a farmer entailed. Our farm came with a mixture of smaller livestock, some rusty equipment, a century-old apple orchard, and a peacock. It seemed like an idyllic life choice with beautiful scenery and the requisite historic barn. We thought, “How hard could farming be?”

LLF barn and sheep

In hindsight, a business plan might have squelched that naiveté, but idealizing farming isn’t new nor are we the only ones to have gone down that path, even marketing the myth (Does Pepperidge Farm really exist?) Regardless, this is actually a great reason to visit a farm. After all, this is where the food in your fridge starts out - be it livestock or produce, even something simple like eggs (Fair warning: egg-laying chickens are well known as a “gateway livestock”!) Farming is physically demanding; it requires skill and education, and even a bit of luck. It’s a risky business. It’s also a 7-day-a-week job that some will joke is a lifestyle, not a living. But it also brings clarity to pricing at your local farmers’ market. Exactly how much time and labor does it take on the part of the farmer to get those eggs to your fridge?

LLF hay field

 

Most small farms ($100K or less in sales) require off-farm jobs to support the family. We were no different. Which leads me to the creative thinking required to make a living on a farm, also known as ‘value-added’ (thanks USDA). That would be the jam, goat cheese, wool, or soap you’ll find on Etsy, at the farmers’ market, or at the roadside farm stand. For us, it was the addition of a ‘farm stay’ to our operations. Farm stays – overnight lodging provided on the farm for a fee – are as varied as the farms offering them. You might find yourself in a tent on the back-40, a cabin, a yurt, even a room in the farm house; and, often your stay includes a farm-fresh breakfast and a rooster alarm clock.

LLF Cottage view

Yup, we farmers are looking at diversification strategies (wow, we sounds like hedge fund managers) that include the hospitality business and inviting strangers to experience our lifestyle. It helps pay for tractor maintenance, but it also allows us to share our vistas as well as our challenges with urbanites and travelers, often disconnected from the natural world in ways that would have our grandparents shaking their collective heads. We know. We were those urbanites - until we weren’t.

Eggs for breakfast

And, it’s not dirty and boring the way you might think. Okay, well the lodging isn’t dirty, although helping around the farm might involve some dirt. Boring never factors in because… farms aren’t boring. Maybe you’ll help collect eggs, brush the donkey, even hold a baby lamb. Maybe you’ll sit on the farm house porch and read a good book, drink the local brew, unwind and unplug. You’ll be our guest for a weekend or a week and you never had to buy the farm!

Interacting

This is why you would want to stay on a farm. It’s a bridge to the country. It’s a boon to the farm (it saved ours). It’s fun and unexpected, and your friends will think you are crazy, until you return home with tales of feeding a baby goat, and then they will want to go too. You’ll be protecting small-farm America that at one point built this country. You’re a patriot! Okay, bit of a stretch, but at least you have found a unique, relaxing vacation spot… and are now contemplating chickens for the back yard!

Bard Rocks

EasterMessage2016

Easter is coming up this weekend, and that brings up the annual issue of cute baby animals given as gifts for the occasion.

Baby bunnies (known as kits), chicks, ducklings, and other cute creatures require a big commitment. They need special diets and housing and... well... these types of animals tend to poop wherever they feel like it. Ask anyone who lets chickens free-range in their back yards! Just no decorum, I tell ya.

Instead of risking the need to re-home these animals when they grow out of the cuddly baby stage and turn into a long-term responsibility, we highly recommend visiting animals on a farm instead. (Of course!) Create memories that will last a lifetime... not a lifetime of chores.

strawberry pickingAs you know, we love promoting farm stays. But we also love the fact that there are all kinds of events taking place on and around farms that don't necessarily mean staying over night. That's why we're so excited to announce the newest feature of the Farm Stay U.S. website... event calendars!

Up above, in the menu bar across the top of the site, you'll see Event Calendars at the far right. The drop-down menu is broken down by region, to help you find special events where you live or plan to travel. When you click on "more details", you'll be provided a link to the farm's listing and have the option to add the event to your own calendars.

event calendar 1

Select the region you are interested in. Not sure? Click on the main "Event Calendars" page and you'll be given a list of all the states represented in each region.

event calendar 2

Once you find an event you're interested in, you can do a few things:

  • click the link to copy the event to your own Google calendar
  • click on "more details" to be taken to the full event entry (which includes a hotlink back to the farm or ranch that posted the event)
  • open a map to the event location

Want to make sure you never miss an event? Find the region/calendar you're interested in, and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click the button to add to Google Calendar.

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When Google Calendar opens, you'll be given the option to add the calendar to your "Other Calendars" section.

 

eventcalendar3

 

This is a brand new option for our farm, ranch, and vineyard members to promote special events, so be sure to check back now and then for new additions to the calendars!

Flint Hill Farm in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania is known as a Farm Educational Center. Located on 26-acres, this multifaceted farm is a working Alpine goat and Jersey cow dairy that procudes milk, cheese, and yogurt. You can pick up these products in their on-site store or enjoy them with your breakfast when you stay on the farm.

Flint Hill Farm - making dairy products

Guests and visitors to the farm can also opt to sign up for a cheese making class, where they learn to make chevre, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese. They also give the option of milking the cows and goats in the morning before class!

Flint Hill Farm cheese making

Flint Hill Farm draft horseOvernight guests have the option to be "farmer for a day", which includes hands-on egg-collecting, feed and water the ponies and horses, feed and milk the goats, and observe cow milking. Draft horses help with much of the everyday farm work during certain seasons.

The farm itself dates back to about 1850 and run by two famlies until Kathleen Fields purchased it in 1997. Vacationers can choose to stay in the farm house, where there are two rooms with queen beds, plus a room with twin beds, or stay in a mobile home/RV that is situated in the six acres of woods on the property.

Activities at Flint Hill Farm in PA

Camps are offered during the summer, including Farm Camp, Horse Lovers Camp, and Kindercamp. More information can be found on the farm's website.

Flint Hill Farm goat and cow dairy

Start planning your trip to Flint Hill Farm today!

Enjoy a closer peek at Flint Hill Farm through this video: