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: September 2010

Yesterday, there was a terrible accident on the I-5 in Washington. No people were injured, thank goodness, but millions of bees perished when a truck carrying 448 hives - up to 14 million bees - overturned. Beekeepers saved about 128 hives before it got too warm and the bees started becoming agitated.

I literally cried when I saw the Tweet at the top of this post. I wasn't there, so I can't possibly say why that choice was made, but honestly, could they not have left out some bee boxes and made all the people leave the scene? I don't know enough about bee behavior, I guess, but I'd think if you could get them into a box, then collect them after dark and introduce new queens, maybe more could have been saved? I wish they'd tried just about anything else than spraying those bees with foam and water, killing them.

Our world can ill-afford more bee losses.

We have several wonderful members who keep bees on their farms or ranches. I'd encourage anyone who might want to get into beekeeping, or just learn more about the process, to visit one of these farms and see what a delicately balanced world these little creatures inhabit. You can also check with your local university Extension offices and see what kinds of classes are offered. Other avenues could be local feed stores or even some garden centers.

Save the Bees!

 

bees on comb Inspecting Hive

How Can Sheep Survive Bitter Cold Weather

This post first appeared on Kim Goodling's blog at http://www.livingwithgotlands.com/. Kim is shepherdess to a flock of Gotlands, the curly sheep from Sweden. She invites farm stay guests to experience rural living, sheep, and fiber art at her farm in Vermont. See her Farm Stay U.S. listing at Grand View Farm or visit her website.

We thought with all the challenging weather happening across the country right now, a post on how sheep can survive such cold temps would be interesting... enjoy!

 

I am often asked how my sheep can survive the harsh Vermont winter weather. Temperatures in our area often hover in the single digits with spells well below zero at times. Snow piles high around the barn, and cold winds blow frequently. With proper shelter and feed, our sheep have no difficulty with these winter conditions and cold temperatures.

Proper Housing

Visitors to our farm often think that a closed barn provides the best place for our livestock in the winter. In fact, that is the last thing that they need. Being shut in a barn, causes a build up of moisture and ammonia in the air, irritating their respiratory tract and causing infection. Sheep stay much healthier if they have access to sun and fresh air every day.

The thermometer registered 15 degrees below zero this morning, with wind chills between 40-60 degrees below zero. On days like this, our barn door remains open for the sheep to come and go as they please. The barn offers protection from the bitter wind, but certainly not much protection from the cold. This morning, all the sheep, as well as the llama, were hunkered down in the barn. With the gusty wind, we fed them their hay in the barn so they did not have to brave the subzero wind chill to eat breakfast. We also have a three sided shelter which provides a wind break for them. The sun shines into the shelter all day, giving the sheep a place out doors, with protection from the wind, without having to be inside the barn.

LwG - Drifting snow
Drifting Snow and Wicked Winds

Warm From the Outside In

Sheep have their own natural source of insulation all over their bodies. Their wool keeps their body heat in and the cold out. That is why you will see sheep with snow piled on their backs; their body heat does not reach the outer layers of their fleece to melt the snow. The lanolin in their wool also prevents moisture from getting to their skin. When doing chores, if my hands get cold, I will take off my mittens and bury my hands in the wool on one of the ewes to get warm.

 

Ema-2Bf-5
Ema’s wool protects her from the snow.


Warm From the Inside Out

We do give the sheep lots of second cut hay during the winter to eat. Due to the fermentation of fibrous matter, the rumination process actually creates a great deal of heat. This warms the sheep from the inside out, thus the need for good quality hay throughout winter months. The more sheep eat, the more heat they produce. A pregnant ewe will also have added heat from the lamb growing inside of her. The shepherd may provide added energy to their diet during extreme cold weather. We give warm molasses water when the temps dip in the single digits for added energy.

 

feeding-2Bhay
Feeding Second Cut Hay

 

With shelter from the wind and proper nutrition-our sheep stay healthy and happy all winter.

We have reached the end of our 12 Days of Christmas posts. We hope you've gathered some good ideas for your vacations in the new year and that we've shown you what kind of variety can be found on farm and ranch stays. From romantic vineyards to kid-friendly adventures, all kinds of great food, activities, relaxation, and animals galore... there is truly something for everyone.

We've just rolled out a gift certificate program and are working to get our members signed up. It would make a great Valentine's day gift, and your recipient can choose which farm they'll visit!

We're looking forward to a great 2015, and we hope you are too! Spend some of it with a farmer, won't you?

come home rooster

 



orchards

Have you ever walked down the aisle of an orchard? Peaches, or apples, or pears... the aromas are like heaven. Orchards offer a shady escape on a hot summer day. How about touring an olive orchard, or picking fruit right off a tree to go with your breakfast or lunch. (Keep an eye out for opportunistic horses if you're walking around with apples. I'm just saying...)

12 Days of Christmas (on the farm) - Day 10

Are you curious about the milking process - for either cows or goats? Many of our members allow guests to participate in milking, or offer tours of their milking facilities. It's a great way to gain more understanding of what it takes to get milk to us, the consumers. (And... after milking, there might be cheese making!)

I always think that milking is one of those quintessential farm chores, along with gathering eggs and feeding chickens.

farm chores
Follow FarmStayUS's board Farm Dogs on Pinterest.
Follow FarmStayUS's board Barn Cats on Pinterest.

How about a celebration of the other farm animals -- not the livestock or poultry - but the hard working barn cats and dogs that do their fair share of the work around the farm or ranch?

12 Days of Christmas (on the farm) - Day 8

Arizona Collage

If you're planning on visiting a national park this year, a nearby farm or ranch could make a good "home base" for your explorations.

Lots of farms offer camp sites or tents, as well as RV hookups, and even glamping!

 

glamping collage

 

 

12 Days of Christmas (on the farm) - Day 7

balloons

Happy new year's eve!

Hoping to go on a few adventures in 2015? I ran a bunch of searches for you on some of the more daring activites listed by our farm and ranch members. These might be right on the farm, or available nearby - check with the owners first if you have your heart set on a particular activity. There may be seasonal considerations as well.

How about... ziplining?

Ballooning? (Oh... over wine country... *sigh* Romance and adventure!)

Explore some caverns or do some rock climbing?

Kayaking? (Check into what kind of kayaking - there's a big difference between a quiet bay or lake and kayaking on rapids!) There's also rafting (again, check if it's lazy river rafting or white-water rafting).

We have some ranches where you can learn roping! Not sure you could put that skill to use on a cattle drive, but going along for the ride with a new secret skill would be fun anyway.

Maybe you're a pilot and need a place with an airstrip... yes, we actually have a ranch that lists an airstrip as an amenity. And there are a few more that list helicopter landing. Cool.

Or maybe your adventure in 2015 includes getting married... eh? Eh? Anyone? Some of our members have wedding chapels, and LOTS of them welcome weddings and elopements!

Onward to the new year!

12 Days of Christmas (on the farm) - Day 6

Brrrrr. BRRRRRR. It's cold! You would think it was winter or something.

snow chores

Let's daydream about beaches and swimming pools for a minute... *daydreams*

Beaches and swimming pools might not be something you generally associate with farms, but vacationers can totally have the best of both of these things... the farm experience and a refreshing dip in the water to cool off. You know, during the hot months! We have several members who list beaches as an activity (I actually like beaches in cold weather, too), and even more who list a swimming pool as an amenity or swimming as an activity... that could be swimming holes, splashing around in a creek or river, or lakes.

Planning ahead for warmer days! *daydreams*

12 Days of Christmas (on the farm) - Day 5

Farms generally make us think of the "usual" farm animals... cows, chickens, pigs, sheep. But did you know that we have farms in the U.S. raising other unique animals?

Check out these farm stay search results for opportunites to see some creatures you might not usually come across in a farm setting:

armstrong creek bison
Bison and calf at Armstrong Creek Bison Company