Often, a big advantage of being out in the country at night is how dark it is. Stargazing opportunities abound!
In our search results, we have some members who have checked off "astronomy" as an activity, but really, bring a telescope along on any rural vacation and you're likely to be rewarded as long as the skies are clear. (You can even rent telescopes online - just do a web search.) Consider planning a trip around one of the annual meteor showers!
Well... hello! Finally! Not sure how many of you out there have been checking back every day, but one of the challenges of rural living includes, occasionally, a fickle internet connection. So sorry. I was finally able to make it to a coffee shop today where I have a lovely, fast connection and three posts to catch up on... so away we go!
I love the days between Christmas and the new year. Even more as a kid and there was no school or job (love my job!) to encroach on the long, lazy hours spent reading books in front of the fireplace. I started thinking about all the relaxing ways to spend time on a farm. Here are a few ideas from our members (available either on-site or nearby):
See that? A rural vacation need not be all about farm or ranch chores, though there IS something to be said for pulling weeds in a garden. Really.
Everyone who celebrates... did you have a good Christmas surrounded by friends and loved ones? Hope so! Here at USFSA HQ and its satellite office (AKA, my house) there was lots of tamale making - a big group effort - and then gathering around the dining table to polish them off. Holiday gatherings around here never seem to stray far from the kitchen!
With that in mind, today's post centers around food... and of course it should, since farms and ranches are all about the production of food. What wonderful places, then, to go and connect over a cooking class, or gather around a wood-fired oven!
We have many farms, ranches, and vineyards listed on the site which offer all meals as part of their farm stay packages, and some are even offered as family style dining, which really make guests feel at home with their hosts.
It's easy to find a farm to visit that appeals to exactly the kind of connection you want to forge with your traveling companions. On our search page, click on "show more search options", then choose from the Food options. Be sure to check under Amenities and Activities, too. (Just a note: select one or two options to narrow your search - the search results bring back only members who match ALL your criteria, so pick the one thing that's most important to you and then narrow it down by looking through those results.)
Pass the nog?
Season's Greetings, readers! I had so much fun composing the Christmas countdown posts back in 2012 (was it really 2 years ago?) that I decided to do another series this year. Plus, it challenges me to write something every day during a time when things typically slow down around here. Check back during the 12 days of Christmas - that's December 25th through January 5th - for some musings on the connections we make when we visit a farm, and learn about some (maybe surprising) activities and amenities offered by farm, ranch, and vineyard stays around the country!
The decision to make this series of posts was inspired by a recent study published by Cornell University that says "...research shows experiences - like that vacation you've been thinking about - provide the most joy and tend to increase social connectedness."
[Science says buy experiences, not things, if you're looking for the perfect gift]Well, farm stay operators already had a pretty good idea that this was the case. Farm stay guests have the option to go somewhere rural and slow things down... take your time gathering eggs in the morning or selecting produce out of the garden for your evening meal; gaze into the eyes of a horse; sit in the hayloft with a friend.Joy and connection, a perfect theme for the 1st day of Christmas!
Thanksgiving... a celebration of coming together and giving thanks for the bounty of the year. It seems natural and right that such a gathering take place on a farm, doesn't it? But not everyone has the opportunity... maybe no family farm to visit while growing up, or simply no proximity.
My childhood Thanksgivings were spent with my grandparents. We had no river or woods to traverse; they hosted the festivities at their home in a Los Angeles suburb. Grandma's kitchen had cast iron pans, bacon fat saved in a jar on the stove, and my very own checked apron hanging behind the door, but it was no farm kitchen. She was a good cook, my grandma, making the most of our feast that emanated from freezer, cans, and boxes.
Oh, I loved it. LOVED it. It's still my favorite holiday, though we make dramatically different food choices these days. Access to farms and locally grown food is a vitally important component needed for people to make those choices.
Here at Farm Stay U.S. we're always checking in with our listed members to see what they're offering. The other day I ran a search on Thanksgiving Dinner to see which farms or ranches had checked that off as an activity travelers could enjoy.
The Inn at East Hill Farm in Troy, New Hampshire is one such farm stay where guests can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast and fully immerse themselves in farm life! During the entire Thanksgiving weekend, guests can stay any number of nights, and each overnight includes 3 meals, including Thanksgiving dinner.
Milk the cow and goat, collect chicken eggs, take a pony ride, jump in the hay, and help feed the animals. The jam-packed weekend activity schedule (link opens a PDF) is full of opportunities to hike, take a bread or cheese making workshop, make candles, camp fires with s'mores, and so much more. There is even a contra dance and a cocktail party!
Roast turkey, baked ham, all the sides, and all home cooked on the farm... what could be better?
To learn more, visit the Inn at East Hill Farm's listing here on Farm Stay U.S. You can also search through all our listings to find farms, ranches, and vineyards to visit all through the year. Happy Thanksgiving!
Photos courtesy East Hill Farm, except for that amazing 70s era photo which, as you may have guessed, is me and my grandpa goofing around over the Butterball.
Briar Rose Farm is an old mountain farm in the heart of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Sitting on 260 acres of rolling hills, steep slopes, green pastures and mountain creeks, Briar Rose Farm offers plenty of space for outdoor adventure and peaceful getaways. With multiple cabins to choose from and friendly farm animals to play with this farm makes a great place for romantic getaways or somewhere to bring the whole family.
Farm Cabin – The Farm Cabin is great for your whole group sleeping up to five guests. It is located on the main farm near the animals yet still offers privacy. It comes with satellite TV, limited Wi-Fi, a large hot tub, gas grill and wood burning fireplace.
Sweet Briar Cabin – The Sweet Briar Cabin is secluded on its own 89 acres with green pastures, mountain views and peaceful privacy. It sleeps up to three guests and has a private outdoor hot tub.
Knob Cabin – If you’re looking for a romantic getaway you’ve found it. This cozy cabin comes with an outdoor hot tub, fireplace and an amazing view. It’s located above the main farm and offers complete privacy.
The Home Away – If you’re looking for a cozy home away from home this may be your best option. The Home Away cabin is a two bedroom, two bathroom home with an office. It has a front and back deck and is very private. The open dining and living room make for a great place to spend time with the family.
With 260 acres to explore there are plenty of activities to keep you busy right here on the farm. There’s a mountainous creek that runs through, trails to hike and numerous photo opportunities. This is a working farm so you can help with chores if you want a true farm experience. You also have the opportunity to play with the friendly farm animals.
If you’re looking for more outdoor adventure, many guests find themselves taking advantage of many local activities. There are plenty of options including: hot springs, hiking, horseback riding, skiing, rafting, fishing and llama trekking. Whichever outdoor adventure you’re looking for you’ll likely find it nearby.
For more information and reservations: Briar Rose Farm Stay Profile or their website briarrosefarm.com.
I had the pleasure of visiting Airlie Farms Bed and Breakfast and meeting the wonderful hostess Nancy Petterson. When I arrived she invited me in for coffee and one of her delicious homemade pear muffins as she prepared breakfast for her guests. “This has been the most delightful version of going to grandma’s house” one of the guests said as they were finishing up breakfast. I couldn’t agree more, Nancy is a kind, warm and welcoming woman that makes you feel right at home. As the breakfast ended and the guests began packing up their things I prepared for a memorable interview and farm tour with Nancy.
Nancy and her husband Joe purchased the 226 acre farm 23 years ago and have offered their home as a bed and breakfast for a little over eight years. Their remodeled 1910 farm house offers a comfortable and cozy, yet luxury, stay. Their working Quarter Horse farm sits on beautiful rolling hills with spectacular views across some of Oregon’s richest farm country. Nancy takes pride in and has over 60 years’ experience as a quarter horse breeder. She also enjoys gardening and canning fresh produce. Her hope is to start offering bread making or canning classes so guests have something to take home with them.
As I took my shoes off and stepped in the house I was welcomed by the Petterson’s friendly farm dog, Molly, who just wanted to be pet and have her belly rubbed. We were friends for the remainder of my visit.
With single, double, suite and family accommodations available, guests have many options from which to choose. Because the house is more tailored to adults and older children, the Pettersons recently completed the Airlie Family Cottage for families with young children.
Does waking up to grandmas homemade country style breakfast with freshly brewed coffee and your choice of frittata with cheese, potatoes, farm bacon and sausage, spiced peach parfait, scones, and fresh squeezed juice sound exactly how a vacation morning should be? Breakfast is served in the main house for all guests, large and small.
The Airlie Family Cottage is perfect for families with children and has basic cooking accommodations, refrigerator, and a loft that kids love.
Aside from the wonderful accommodations, there are 226 acres to explore and family friendly farm animals abound. From guided rides, lessons in the arena, playing with the goats and chickens, or gathering your own eggs, there is plenty to enjoy and experience right here on the farm.
After the interview, Nancy took me out on the Gator to tour the farm and, of course, Molly had to join us. From one of the goats putting my ear in its mouth as I was taking a photo of another, to Barney the donkey chasing after us for the hay in the back of the Gator, to enjoying the spectacular views from the top of the hill, I’d say I had quite the farm experience during my visit.
If you decide to wander off the farm there are plenty of local attractions from which to choose. Airlie Farm sits in wine country so take a trip over to one of the vineyards for a bottle of wine and some tastings. Many hunters and judges stay as guests for the nearby Luckiamute Valley Pheasant hunting. Hunters and guests are welcome to bring dogs if they are leashed or in crates. There are also plenty of places to go hiking, fishing, birding, and visit covered bridges. Families with children may find themselves taking a short trip to Salem’s Riverfront Park or A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village to enjoy family-fun activities and a hands-on children’s museum with interactive exhibits.
In my short visit to Airlie Farm Bed and Breakfast I was able to appreciate what the guests had to say about their experience and how Nancy interacted with them. I don’t think one guest left without making sure they gave Nancy a hug and thanking her for a wonderful time and an amazing experience.
“You make us feel right at home.”
“She’s a great host.”
“You make people feel comfortable and relaxed.”
“We came downstairs and she’s making breakfast and then we look outside and she’s out driving the tractor (gator) around feeding the horses and animals. Nancy does it all.”
“I think I may move in here.”
“We’re packing up and then I’m giving you a big ol’ hug.”
“We miss you and this place already.”
My last question I asked Nancy was what she enjoyed most about the farm, Bed and Breakfast and living this lifestyle. She responded with “Well, I love it all. I thought the quarter horse business was my entire life until I went off with the B and B. I thought, why didn’t I start this out when I was 30, instead of 200. It’s wonderful. I love my horses, but I can’t be out there as much. Every guest is special.”
It was a great pleasure meeting Nancy, touring the farm and meeting the farm animals. Nancy truly has the “gift of hospitality” and if you have the chance to visit the beautiful state of Oregon I recommend a stay at Airlie Farm to experience it all for yourself.
For more information and reservations please visit Airlie Farm’s profile, the Airlie Farm Bed and Breakfast website or Booking and Questions.
Photo Credit: Airlie Farm, Anthony Mugica - USFSA
Grand View Farm was one of the earliest farms in the town of Washington, dating back to its initial purchase in 1794. Since then, it has passed through two other families and was finally purchased in 2004 by today’s owners the Goodling family. As the fourth family to own the farm, they have made substantial efforts to reestablish some of its agricultural history. Today, the farm’s main focus is fiber animals. The Goodlings also offer a Bed and Breakfast Farm Stay in their 19th century farmhouse. Enjoy a farm fresh organic breakfast of local foods and the farm’s own pure Vermont maple syrup, then spend some time exploring the beautiful Green Mountains and taking one of the classes offered at Grand View.
The Farmhouse Family Suite offers a warm and welcoming step back in history. With hand hewn exposed beams, wide wood paneling and antique four poster beds, you’ll enjoy a comfortable stay in this antique home setting. This two bedroom suite comes with a cozy wood stove, gas grill, candle lit dinners, plush robes, and modern conveniences to make you feel right at home.
Wake up to a farm fresh breakfast, then make your way outside to the porch for a relaxing and beautiful view overlooking the Green Mountains. If you feel up for it, you’re more than welcome to lend a hand with some of the farm chores. Seeking more adventure? Ask about one of the tours the farmers have put together for their guests, including excursions for cheese lovers, covered bridges, local foodies and outdoor enthusiasts.
Grand View Farms main focus is raising Romney sheep for their superb fiber. Through proper practices in keeping a closed flock, practicing biodiversity, and maintaining a nutritional balance the Goodlings are better able to prevent disease and control parasites from entering their flock. They also have llamas and angora rabbits on the farm. The llamas act as guardians for the sheep and provide a unique fiber. The bunnies love their morning treats of fresh vegetables and fruits. Their fiber is spun into a soft yarn.
Dedicated to high breeding standards Grand View Farm offers lovely, quality woolen goods for you and your home. The Goodling family prides itself for carrying on the traditional arts of knitting, weaving and spinning. For more information on the products produced on the farm, please visit their Grand View Farm Store.
If you want to expand your farm experience and knowledge take advantage of one of the multiple classes taught right there on the farm. From using locally grown plants as a natural dye to creating your own felted clasp purse or even working on a project of your own, Grand View Farm offers a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere perfect for working on your art projects.
For more information and reservations visit their Farm Stay Profile, Grand View Farm Website and Facebook page.
Photo Credit: Grand View Farm
Welcoming, comfortable and green; three words that describe Perry Family Farm quite well. Originally from England, the Perry family moved to Vermont for the rural lifestyle. They purchased farm land and started building what is now a beautiful farm house on a working farm. Their goal is to produce locally grown food for their community and provide a memorable experience for their guests all while embracing good environmental practices. This small diverse farm can be found nestled in the Green Mountains of Central Vermont.
Perry Family Farm offers a fully equipped one bedroom apartment with modern conveniences. There is also the option of a bunk bed in the main living area for children and another room on the top floor with a private bathroom. One of the greatest treats of their apartment is the beautiful view from the private deck and upstairs bedroom.
No matter which season you’re planning your next getaway, you’ll find enjoyment here at Perry Family Farm. Come in spring and you’ll get to see and play with the new piglets, lambs and calves in the field. Summers offer fresh farm cooked BBQs, garden produce, warm evenings and starlit nights. Does waking up to a brisk and colorful autumn morning sound like the perfect getaway? Then you’ve found a great place to enjoy the chilled mornings and beautiful fall foliage. If snow shoeing, skiing and a warm and cozy romantic night in is your ideal vacation then Vermont’s snow covered winters and a stay at Perry Family Farm should be next on your list.
Perry Family Farm offers a variety of meats and produce for purchase including pork, lamb, beef, chicken, duck, goose, guinea fowl, eggs, honey, pullets and preserves.
Eco-friendly, relaxing and country charm are just a few reasons guests appreciate a stay at the Perry Family Farm.
“The Perry Farm is absolutely beautiful! Plenty of warm water, heat, wonderful kitchen for cooking, and they provided delicious Vermont coffee and milk. A nice scenic drive through the back roads of Warren and you're at Sugarbush.” – Rachel
“I cut the duck into parts, slow roasted the carcass for about 2 hours to render the fat out. Then I cooked the legs and the wings slow and low until the meat was falling off the bone. There is nothing better than duck cooked in its own fat. Then I pan seared the breast, finished them in the oven to medium rare and served with a blood orange, ginger, balsamic reduction. Served the whole thing with fresh steamed green beans and a medley of roasted carrots, parsnips and butternut squash. You would have been proud. It was fantastic!” – Rebecca
“We loved staying on James and Laura's farm -- only wish the stay could have been longer! The apartment was so comfortable with a great gas range stove, big refrigerator, plenty of living space and an ultra-comfy bed. We had access to their veggie garden and they provided us with farm eggs, coffee & bread for breakfast.” - Julia
For more information and reservations visit the Perry Family Farm Stay profile or their website.
Photo Credit - Perry Family Farm
Just south of Grass Valley, Oregon lies the spacious and relaxing Justesen Ranch. Located on beautiful Oregon farm country, Justesen Ranch offers a wide range of outdoor activities. With six cozy and welcoming cabins surrounded by nature and wildlife you’ll wake up every morning with acres to explore.
Justesen Ranch Recreation offers six lovely cabins to choose from; great for anyone looking for a relaxing vacation to getaway and unwind.
White River Lodge – Accommodating up to eight guests, this three bedroom two bath rock and log cabin is great for the whole family. There’s also a patio where concerts occasionally take place near White River.
Barn Between the Rivers – This refitted barn comfortably sleeps six guests and has a recreation room with a pool table and shuffleboard court. It’s located in Tygh Valley and sits between two flowing creeks.
Davis House – This small farmhouse can sleep up to six guests with a living room, kitchen, one indoor bathroom and an old-fashion outhouse. With 10 fishing lakes nearby, this cabin is a popular choice among fishing enthusiasts.
Grass Valley House – Big game hunting, lake fishing and waterfowl hunting activities are all within a short drive from this cabin. With four bedrooms and two bathrooms this cabin is perfect for friends and family.
Trout Lake Lodge – This restored hand hewed log home has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen, dining area and living room. It can sleep up to 9 adults and is great for group getaways. It’s located at Trout Lake, Washington and the foot of Mt. Adams.
The Grainery – Located five miles southwest of Grass Valley, this small fishing cabin is near two very popular fly fishing lakes and can accommodate up to four adults.
Justesen Ranch has a number of outdoor recreation activities available for their guests including: hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, trail riding, farm tours and bird watching.
There are plenty of rivers, creeks and lakes in the area for trout and bass fishing. You’ll need to bring your own fishing equipment and all fishing in the area is catch-and-release. If you’re interested they will gladly provide guide services. Justesen Ranch offers guided deer, duck, geese and a variety of other animal hunting excursions. They also provide trail riding services throughout beautiful White River Canyon and Tygh Valley that take you through forests, canyons and rivers. You have the option to bring your own horses or ride one of their friendly steeds.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast and looking for an adventurous vacation Justesen Ranch is a must stay if you’re in the beautiful state of Oregon. For more information and reservations you can look through their Farm Stay profile, Justesen Ranch Recreation website and Contact Information.
Photo Credit: Justesen Ranch
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