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!
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.
Please join us in welcoming a new member to Farm Stay U.S... Lucky Goat Family Farm, located in beautiful Big Sur, California!
Lucky Goat Family Farm is equally inviting for families with children as it is for romantic couples, singles, or groups of friends. Each day begins with milking the goats, making cheese, checking the troughs, and watering the gardens. Guests are welcome to join in, or just relax on the spacious decks overlooking the ocean.
The farm hosts have been making goat cheese for 26 years and they offer a special goat cheese making workshop (by reservation, with a separate fee from the stay).
The cottage has room for up to five guests to stay and experience this haven for wildlife and livestock, including goats, sheep, horses, cattle, sheep dogs, deer, bobcats, fox, and condors.
The farm is located close to Pheiffer Beach and the Cultural Center of Big Sur, Loma Vista, where visitors can find great music and wonderful shops of local crafts.
Want to see more? Visit the Lucky Goat Family Farm listing on Farm Stay U.S.
Serina Harvey and her two sisters founded Flip Flop Ranch in 2003. The ranch, located in the desert of Southern California near Big Bear Lake, combines a farm stay with heritage livestock and farming therapy for women who have been victims of domestic violence. The ranch's mission is "To build healthy relationships between people and the world around them." We are excited to share our interview with Serina, and give you the inside scoop on this fascinating place.
A couple of weeks ago, we welcomed four new members to site who joined us in March. Today we bring you Part II of that post, with three additional farm and ranch members to introduce!
Ovenell's Heritage Inn at Double O Ranch, Concrete, Washington
This 580 acre working cattle ranch is nestled in the rugged foothills of the North Cascades, along the Skagit River. Enjoy abundant wildlife, and seasonal ranch activities like the round-up in September, or the birthing of calves starting in February.
Ovenell's Heritage Inn can accommodate up to 43 guests -- anywhere from 4 in a cabin or 6-8 in a guest house. Meals are self-prepared, breakfast may be included. Children under 12 are welcome, as are pets, weddings, private parties, and other special events.
Flip Flop Ranch, Lucerne Valley, California
Described as "the middle of nowhere" by the farmers (yet close enough to all the big sights), Flip Flop ranch is situated on 40 acres in the high desert of Southern California. They specialize in raising endangered heritage livestock, like Cotton Patch Geese (pictured), rare breeds of chickens, and more.
The farm can accommodate up to 24 guests with a variety of rooming options. Meals are are self-prepared in the full kitchen, or shared family style. Children under 12 are welcome, as well as wedding parties, reunions, and other special events.
Happy Hills Alpaca Farm, Monroe, North Carolina
Located less than 30 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina, the denizens of Happy Hills Alpaca farm invite you to relax among the shade trees and watch the alpacas graze. Guests can simply enjoy their surroundings, learn to spin alpaca fiber into yarn, or get down and dirty with alpaca training.
The farm can accommodate up to 4 guests at a time with a guest bedroom and an RV. Meals are included with family style dining, cookouts, and refreshments. The farm allows one well-behaved child under 12, as well as weddings, parties, and other special events.
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