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.
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?
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:
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)
It's snowing here! Is this because I wrote about snow yesterday? If so, then today I shall write about chocolate... Oh, wait, my husband just informed me that's not how it works. Drat. In that case, let's talk about keeping snuggly warm. Because, brrrr.
Day 7 - Quilting, Fiber and Weaving (workshops, demonstrations, retreats)
Hand carders and spindles.
Thank goodness for the enthusiasts of these crafts, or they might soon be lost to us in this era of synthetic fibers and producing cloth in the most efficient, inexpensive way possible. There are members of Farm Stay U.S. that offer activities like quilting classes (not to mention - as guests - being able to cuddle up under the handmade quilts often present in the accommodations!); spinning and weaving classes; knitting retreats; dyeing; and even helping with sheep shearing.
And the animals that produce all this glorious fiber... visit with happy sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats, and even bison!
This is truly a gift of warmth. Check out these Farm Stay U.S. members that offer quilting, fiber related activities, and weaving.
We asked our farmer, Kim Goodling of Grand View Farm Vermont,
whether we could 'borrow' her blog post. We feel she clearly sums
up what many of us have observed for the reasons our guests seek
the farm stay experience.
The events of the past two days has caused me to ponder why
people choose to stay on a farm for their family vacation and why
our family opens our home, lives, and farm up to complete
strangers. As I think back over all the guests we have had since
this spring, there seems to be two motives behind their spending
time with us:
first set of families want to support small family farms, and they
are here to lend a helping hand where needed. They recognize the
hard work involved in farming and they want to experience it, first
hand.These parents have thoughtfully chosen to bring their children
to our farm, so that they can experience life "outside of their
Their children have worked in our garden and greenhouse, and
have tended to our many animals. These families have taken in with
gusto, the fresh air, dark starlit nights, beautiful sunsets, fire
flies, naps on the porch, weaving and felting lessons, the babbling
brook, amazing mountain views, our wooded trails, and the adventure
of traveling on dirt roads.
2. The second set of families seem to be on a food adventure!
These families live, for the most part in large, bustling cities
where the bulk of their groceries are purchased from the market
around the corner. They express a "disconnect" with the source of
the foods they eat, and they want very much to make that
Some of their children have never seen vegetables growing, or
have given thought to how food is raised and produced. They do not
know that an asparagus grows up out of the ground, and that peas
grow from a vine in a pod. They do not know that hens lay one egg a
day, and that it takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of
maple syrup. They have never seen piglets racing around, chasing
one another, or heard the tiny peeps of small chicks.
These parents have chosen to stay on a farm where food is
raised, and to visit neighboring farms who do the same. They see
Vermont as setting the standard for high quality foods. Two sets of our guests, have enjoyed visiting some
our friends' larger market gardens. They call ahead to place an
order with the farm, and then drive over to pick up their food. An
added bonus for driving out to the farm, is to get a personal tour
of the farm and to meet some of Vermont's finest,
most knowledgeable farmers.
They revel in the idea of being able to eat vegetables that have
just been picked, and they are amazed at how fresh everything
tastes. We share with them the secrets of where to find the best
goat's milk cheese, the best organically grown meats, and the
locally brewed beers. Then, we provide a grill for them to cook
their dinner while taking in the mountain views.
Whether here to help with chores, or to enjoy a feasting
vacation, both types of families have one thing in common; the
parents want to spend time with their children. These parents could
have chosen to stay in resorts with all the amenities, pools,
televisions, internet access, and numerous kid engaging activities
just outside their hotel door.
Instead, they chose to come to our farm, to work together
alongside a farming family, to visit with and make friends with
farmers who care about how food is grown, and to help their urban
raised children make connections that would otherwise be
impossible. They have spent 24 hours a day with their children,
embracing rural Vermont farm life, and thoughtfully planning each
day's adventure, whether exploring the far reaches of Vermont
tourist spots, or the dirt road outside our front door.
Whether it's Vermont or a farm or ranch stay in some other
state, we truly believe that the connection made with our guests,
both personal and agricultural, benefits us all in the long run.
Our goal here at Farm Stay U.S.: to bridge the urban-rural divide
one night, one meal, one family at a time.
This blog post was written by Susan Gibbs of Juniper Moon Farm and originally
appeared on her blog. She has kindly given us permission to
re-post it here, and we hope it will inspire our readers to get out
there and take some photos for the Farm Stay U.S. 2011 photo
Let me start me start with a disclaimer: as a photographer, I
make a very good shepherd. I have almost no training whatsoever in
photography and everything you're about to read is based on nothing
more than years of trial and error and figuring out what works for
my own pictures.
I do, however, get asked all the time how I get the shots of my
flock that I post on the blog. I'm happy to share my secrets, if
you can call them that. BTW, all of the photos in this post are
unedited because I want to show you what you can do no matter what
kind of camera or software you have.
1. Take more pictures. Lots more. The more you shoot, the
greater the odds are that you'll get one good one. It isn't unusual
at all for me to take 300 or 400 shots in an afternoon and, if I'm
lucky, I'll have three or four photos I consider worth posting on
the blog. If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, your odds will
be a bit longer because most point-and-shoots don't work as quickly
as animals move. It was the frustration with that lag time that led
me to buy my first digital SLR and I would never consider shooting
animals with anything else.
2. Get down on your subjects level. This is the easiest way to
improve your photos of animals and probably children. I see so many
pictures of lambs on other peoples blog that are clearly taken
standing above the animal, and, cute though the lamb may be, the
pictures just aren't very compelling.
This isn't always easy to do. Some times I have to lay flat on
the ground in the barnyard or on the floor of the barn to get good
shots. Sometimes I pick the animal up and bring him/her up to my
level. It definitely helps to wear clothes that you don't mind
getting dirty in.
Here are a couple of examples of what I'm talking about:
shot from above
shot from the goats' eye level
chicks from above
In both of the first pictures you can tell that the animals are
cute but the in the second pictures you can
really see them.
3. Get closer. Then get closer still. You really want to fill up
the frame with the subject.
See the difference? And while we're on the subject, unless
you're shooting man-eating tigers, zoom with your feet, not your
close, but not close enough
4. It's all about the eyes. Okay so now you're on the animals
level and your really, really close. Start shooting and look for
moments when the animal is looking at you full on, where both eyes
are on you.
This is an okay shot but…
this one is orders of magnitude better.
There is no way to get these kind of shots without taking many,
many, many pictures. Here's another example:
Very close. I probably would have gone with this pic had I not
gotten a better one.
This. This is exactly what I wanted this picture to do. You can
really see this lamb's personality in this photo.
One more example:
Of course, not every picture has to have the animal looking
directly into the camera, but if he's not, then it should be
deliberately so, as in this pic:
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