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.

Archive for tag: chickens

Pebble Cove Farm on Orcas Island, Washington

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Another new member to the Farm Stay U.S. website this year is Pebble Cove Farm on Orcas Island, Washington.

Pebble Cove Farm 1

Overlooking Massacre Bay on Orcas Island, this south facing salt water farm grew out of a dream of raising children by the sea. Guests may stroll through the organic garden and enjoy in-season produce, collect organic eggs, pick berries, and visit with the goats and Buddy the pony.

Pebble Cove Farm 3
Pebble Cove Farm 2

Pebble Cove Farm welcomes guests of all ages to stay in one of their studio suites, the family suite, or the cottage. Weddings, family reunions, and other special events may be held at the farm.

To learn more and plan a visit, check out the Pebble Cove Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy Pebble Cove Farm)

On the Windfall in Lansing, North Carolina

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Today we are welcoming On the Windfall in Lansing, North Carolina to the Farm Stay U.S. family.

On the Windfall 1

This 215 acre farm is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They raise sheep and chickens, grow sunflowers, and are experimenting with a hop yard. Guests can also visit with goats, a donkey, and a wild pony, and enjoy hiking and fishing right on the property. Leaf peeping is another wonderful seasonal activity here.

On the Windfall 2 On the Windfall 3

On the Windfall has three private cottages with lots of amenities. The Barn and The Granpy Aut each sleep 4, and The Granny Mandy sleeps up to 9. The farm welcomes children under 12, weddings, family reunions and other special events.

To learn more and plan a vacation, visit the On the Windfall listing here at Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy On the Windfall)

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Please join us in welcoming Belle Meade Farm in Sperryville, Virginia to the Farm Stay U.S. website.

bellemeade

This restored Victorian farmhouse is located on 138 acres of fields, woods, and streams in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains. A teaching farm with organic gardening, chickens, horses, pigs, and cows, Belle Meade Farm is a great place to renew and refresh.

belle 2 belle cottage

The farm has four in-house rooms, as well as a stand-alone cottage, all with private baths. Rates include a hearty breakfast. Guests of all ages are welcome, as are weddings and special events.

To learn more and plan a visit, check out the Belle Meade Farm listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy Belle Meade Farm)

Q&A Turtle Mist Farm, North Carolina

ss1This week we feature an interview with Ginger Sykes of Turtle Mist Farm in North Carolina. Ginger and Bob Sykes long dreamed of farming and now aim to share their love for nature and knowledge of where food really comes from with others.

FSUS: Fulfilling a long-time dream, you decided to start your farm after
working for 30 years in corporate America. Why did you choose North Carolina?

Ginger Sykes: We chose this area because it is not too far from my family in Maryland, the land prices here were unbelievable, the property is ideally located because it is rural but not too far from the city -- Our farm is 25 miles north of Raleigh.

FSUS: What's the setting like around your farm, and the landscape?

Ginger: The setting around the property is very peaceful, although we have close neighbors, while on the property you get a feeling of being in a small world all your own.  The view from the guest house overlooking the pond makes you feel like you should be sitting on the front porch in the rocking chairs sipping lemonade.

FSUS: What kind of animals are on your farm now?

Ginger: We have pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens (laying and broilers), Muscovy duck, Guineas, quail, peacocks, 2 horses, a goat, and a donkey.ss6

FSUS: Can you tell us about some of the unusual vegetables that you grow?

Ginger: Our garden is a small market garden (we grow just enough to take to the farmers market).  But because we cannot compete with the larger vegetable farmers we chose to grow different veggies.  We grow purple & white Kohlrabi (a cabbage turnip), Edamame, turmeric, Tatuma squash (just a different variety of squash), berry tomatoes (cherry tomatoes that are shaped like strawberries), malabar spinach (a summer vining spinach) mini bell peppers, Armenian cucumbers (they look and taste like cucumbers but are muskmelons).

FSUS: How did your farm get its name?

Ginger: We named the farm Turtle Mist because the pond in front of the guest has a large number of turtles in it and in the morning there's a fog that rolls across the pond.

ss10FSUS: What do most guests do during a stay on your farm?

Ginger: Most of our guests are parents with small children who want their children to have the farm experience and to learn where their food comes from.  After they tour the farm, we let them help us with our chores, i.e., gather eggs, feed the sheep and pigs, and they can help in the garden if they want.  If they don't want to work, they can fish, paddle boat, visit with and take pictures of the animals.  Our horse trainer offers horse instructions and riding.  And, depending on how long they stay, some guests visit surrounding cities (Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest).

(Photos courtesy Turtle Mist Farm)

Please join us in welcoming one of our newest members to Farm Stay U.S., Mavis Manor!

Mavis Manor 1

Specializing in "Farm to Fork localness", Mavis Manor is a sustanable farm stay retreat situated on 33 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia.

The farm raises a flock of 75+ happy chickens, a fluffy English Angora Rabbit named Chewy, and a locally famous pig called Sylvia Smackers.

Mavis Manor 2

With three guest rooms in the 1897 Queen Anne Victorian house, Mavis Manor can accommodate up to 9 guests, including children under 12. They provide breakfast and have snacks available, and guests are welcome to help with chores, learn about permaculture, or relax and play yard games.

To see what more they have to offer, visit Mavis Manor's listing on Farm Stay U.S.!

Please say hello to our new Farm Stay U.S. member, Three Sparrows Farm!

Three Sparrows Cabin

Farmers Doug and Erin raise Mini-Mancha goats on their two acre farm just 15 minutes from the historic town of Prescott, Arizona. Guests can enjoy fresh goat milk, plus eggs from the farm's chickens. Meet their "deceptively charming" donkey, named Button!

The farm has a cabin which accommodates up to four guests. They welcome kids of all ages, who are free to roam and explore, help with chores, nap on the porch, and explore the area. There are horse riding facilities and hiking trails located nearby.

Three Sparrows Goat Kid

Visit the Three Sparrows Farm listing on Farm Stay U.S. to learn more.

This month we feature an interview with a very dynamic duo, ranch stay members Ron and Chris Wilson of Lazy T Ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

FSUS: Ron and Chris, you both have quite the bios! You are both 5th
generation ranchers, plus Ron has been (in his words):

A 4-H member, FFA officer, farm radio broadcaster, college lecturer,
Congressional staffer, association executive, rural development
director, corporate vice-president, small business co-founder, rodeo
ticket-taker, Sunday School teacher, diaper changer, bottle washer,
tractor driver, posthole digger, thistle chopper, haybale stacker,
fence fixer, calf holder, manure scooper, and tail twister.

And Chris has served as the President of the American Agri-Women and as Kansas
Deputy Secretary of Agriculture! family


How and why did you two decide to host a Ranch Stay amidst all of this?

Ron & Chris: Five years ago we moved back to the ranch and built a new home.  Mom moved up with us two years ago, leaving her house empty so it was available to remodel and serve as a guest house.

FSUS: What's the setting of your ranch like? What's the landscape like,
and the climate?

Ron & Chris: You've heard of flat, treeless Kansas?  This is the exact opposite.  We are nestled in a region called the Flint Hills, with tall hills, deep draws, plenty of native stone, and lots of trees and brush.  We have four distinct seasons, each of which has its appeal.

FSUS: What do guests typically do during their stay at your ranch?

Ron & Chris: Guests can enjoy their privacy if they like, because we are in a secluded spot although close to Manhattan, but usually our guests choose to visit our historic stone barn, feed horses and goats, and enjoy the landscape.  Sometimes a family will gather eggs from our chickens and have them for breakfast.

ranch-houseFSUS: Since both of your families' roots in ranching go way back, and you are involved with many facets of ranching and ag policy, I expect you have some insight into ranching history and trends. How has ranching changed or stayed the same in this country over time?

Ron & Chris: This is generally cow-calf country, with herds of brood cows populating the rangeland.  Cattle feeding is not predominant here, although there are some feedyards.  Cattle feeding has become concentrated, particularly in western Kansas where several large packers have located.  Beef is our state's largest single ag industry, still dominated by decentralized groups of producers (as opposed to pork and poultry, which have become more unified or vertically integrated).  In addition to ranchers, there are lots of farmer-stockmen raising grain and cattle.

FSUS: Ron was dubbed the "Poet Lariat" of Kansas in 2003 by then-governor Bill Graves. Ron, why did you start writing Cowboy Poetry? Do your ranch stay guests get to see you perform? ridinginparadecloseup

Ron: I grew up here on the ranch and have always been a cowboy at heart.  Years ago I was at a conference in Colorado where they had a cowboy poet as entertainment.  I had never heard or seen such a goofy thing, but it was definitely entertaining.  Years later I tried my hand at writing and performing it myself, and have had a great time since.  Overnight guests don't get cowboy poetry as such, but they do if they schedule one of our beef barbecue suppers.

FSUS: Could you tell us about the special events you have at your ranch throughout the year? Like the fall festival and National Day of the Cowboy?

Ron & Chris: Most of our activities are done by appointment, such as when tour groups or organizations book an evening for supper and entertainment.  However, during weekends in October, we hold our Fall Festival which is open admission for pony rides, pumpkin patch, hayrack ride, kid activities, etc.  In 2012, for the first time, we hosted a National Day of the Cowboy celebration and had about 50 people come out for speakers, picnic supper, and western entertainment.  It was a lot of fun and would hope to do it again.

FSUS: What are the accommodations like at your ranch?

Ron & Chris: The guest house is a remodeled and expanded family farm home, with three bedrooms and a large common living room.  It has satellite television, but it also has card games and marks on the wall to mark the kids height on their birthdays through the years.  The front porch is native stone and the house is nestled into our corner of the river valley, surrounded by the Flint Hills.

FSUS: What meals do you offer, and what's on the menu?

Ron & Chris: We offer lunch and supper but supper is our most common offering: beef barbecue with all the trimmings.  See http://lazytranchadventures.com/lazy-t-ranch-beef-bbq.htm

FSUS: Anything else you'd like to highlight?

barn-w-horsesRon & Chris: A friend of ours has a saying:  Horses are magic.  We have had visitors who apparently have never seen a horse up close and personal, and they seem to find them fascinating.  People love to pet and feed them.  The goats will eat feed right out of kids' hands, which tickles their palms and causes them to have a blast.  Kids have described their birthday parties here as their best ever.

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For more information on Lazy T Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing or their website: http://www.lazytranchadventures.com/

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.

flipflopranch-fun

1. Neighboring farmers laughingly dubbed your place "Flip Flop Ranch" when they noticed you and your two sisters -- city slickers turned farm girls -- doing ranch chores in fiip flops! Have you found any chores that you can't do in flip flops?

 

There are few chores we haven't learned to do in Flip Flops, but there are some.  It's difficult to shovel in flip flops, for example, although not impossible.  Milking the goats is definitely a challenge, mainly because they have a tendency to step on your toes and boy does that hurt.  We have horses and cows and we don't do any serious work with them in our flip flops.  That is one thing that we will actually change out of our flip flops for because if a cow or horse steps on your toes, you are in for some serious damage.  I'm racking my brain to try and figure out what I won't do in my flip flops and I can't really think of anything else.  I don't like wearing flip flops when it's really muddy outside, but fortunately that doesn't happen very often in the desert.  Also, sometimes when I'm planting in the garden I will sit back on my feet and the ground can be very hot in the summer (again, it's the desert) and my poor toes get burned.  Most of the time I just put a towel on the ground first, but sometimes I change out of my flip flops.  Any activity that has a big likelihood of resulting in permanent toe damage, I will change out of my flip flops for.

flipflopranch-horses

2. Tell us about your heritage livestock! What kind of, and how many animals, do you have?

Just about all of our animals are heritage livestock.  We have 30 Cotton Patch geese, 100 Dorking chickens, a handful of Nigerian Dwarf goats (and we want lots more), some Australorps, Bourbon Red turkeys and Guinea hogs.  We have somewhere around 300 animals and we sell hundreds every year.  The cotton patch geese and dorkings are our biggest sellers and they make enough to pay for themselves, plus a pretty decent profit.  We raise the bourbon red turkeys for thanksgiving and hope to sell Guinea Hog meat soon.

3. You also have an orchard and organic gardens. What do you do with all the food you raise?

We use most of the food we raise in order to feed our guests and then we sell most of the rest of the food to them when they leave!  It's like built in customers.  Direct marketing is really the best way to make a profit for a small farm. You cut out the middle man, farmer's market costs, transportation, etc.  We make jams from our fruit, zucchini bread, garlic pumpkin seeds and many more value-added products.  Our guests become hooked on the great food we serve and want to buy some to take home with them.

flipflopranch-peaches4. Tell us about your ranch's setting. What's the landscape like, and the climate?

The ranch is located in the High Desert of Southern California.  The landscape is very much like a western movie setting and the area is actually very popular for filming movies.  Roy Rogers and Dale Evans used to live out here and John Wayne and many other cowboy celebrities would vacation here.

The desert is shrubs, cactus, Joshua trees and gorgeous sunsets.  It certainly can get hot here, but the desert nights make it totally worth it.  In the summer, the nights are perfect with a billion stars in the sky.  Winters can also be chilly, but most of the time, summer or winter, it's between 70-90 degrees with very little humidity.

5. What kinds of things do guests typically do when they visit?

Guests are welcome to do whatever they want when they're here, but most guests help feed the animals during the morning and afternoon feedings as well as help to milk the goats.  The little ones (well, the big ones too) help collect the eggs.  The more industrious guests help harvest food from the garden or orchard and maybe join us in the garden to plant or weed.  The very industrious guests grab shovels and join in with the hard work.  During the downtime, guests can swim in the pool or play billiards, air hockey, darts or fooseball in the game room.

6. What are your accommodations like?

We offer four rooms in our 3,000 sq ft house.  All of the rooms are a good size with some of them just downright huge. Our biggest room has 2 queen beds and a twin with room for some blow up mattresses (available from us) for a large group to sleep on.  The rooms are pretty simple, but comfortable and clean farm house rooms.  We are starting to work on some farm murals and cheerful paint on the walls and are constantly trying to make the accommodations nicer and more comfortable because we want our visitors to be happy.

7. Your ranch is also part of a domestic violence nonprofit program for women who are victims of violence. How does the program work, and how does it fit in with your farm stay?

I am a farmer, but I actually have my doctorate in marital and family therapy.  In all my copious spare time, I offer farming therapy for military personnel with PTSD and for women victims of domestic violence/abuse.  Nature works amazingly well to heal people and research has shown that farm work, even without any therapy, can create significant improvements in people's mental health.  I simply take it a step further and combine farming with actual therapy.  Trauma seems to melt away while you're milking a goat, bitterness disappears with every pumpkin that grows, and self-esteem builds with each jar of jam that is made.  Our farming therapy program is something that I and my family really want to expand.  It brings meaning to our lives, as well as our clients', and a service-oriented purpose to our farm.

8. What meals do you serve, and what's on the menu?

We serve all sorts of things at the ranch.  We eat with our guests so we have to cook for ourselves as well as them.  Sometimes we get bored with the same thing so we have the attitude that our guests are joining US for dinner, rather than us joining THEM.  Tonight we had smoked brisket, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, salad and watermelon.  However, we've also had taco bars, spaghetti and sloppy joes.  I make the most amazing enchiladas.  For breakfast, we usually have some variant of pancakes, bacon and farm fresh eggs.  My pancakes are becoming (slightly) famous because I sometimes make them in crazy designs like cows, chickens, goats or even a six-shooter.
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Fore more information on Flip Flop Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. Page and http://www.flipflopranch.com.

Barred Rock ChickensWhen I decided to raise backyard chickens three years ago, I consulted books and the internet, as it is so easy to do these days. But books and web forums didn't prepare me when one of our hens broke her leg. As a girl from the suburbs, whose only real outdoor chores growing up were weeding a lawn or raking leaves, I laugh now (and cringe a little) to recall our dash to the vet's office to have them put a splint on that little chicken leg, when, really, I could have handled it myself.

There's a self-sufficiency that comes from trying things on your own, trial and error, and necessity. However, if we have the foresight to seek help and knowledge from our community, we can accomplish even more.

In Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, author Shannon Hayes interviewed Los Angeles homesteader Kelly Coyne who says, "you need community. The best way to do any of this is to have someone show you how to do it. I think a lot of these skills are not easily taught by books, and when you're a person who's not been raised doing any of these things, whether it's preserving or growing or dealing with small stock, it's all very mysterious. You spend a lot of your time going, "Well, what is this?" Like, "What's this spot on the plant, why is my chicken doing that?"

Our farm, ranch, and vineyard members know about community, and the importance of sharing knowledge. Guests can get started learning a variety of skills straight from the farmers and ranchers who practice them every day.

Check out these results from some Activity searches on our site:Homemade Butter


IHEM

Along these same lines, this September, Mother Earth News and Grit magazines are hosting International Homesteading Education Month.

On their website, you can find workshops, open houses, and other events, all centered around neighbors teaching neighbors and building more self-reliant communities. Find events about food gardening, renewable energy systems, raising livestock (including backyard chickens), real food preparation and preservation, fiber arts, and more.

stargazerThough alpacas don't have a long history in the United States, according to Brian Leach, who directs marketing at Sunset Hills Farm Alpacas, alpaca farmers are a tightly knit -- and quickly growing -- community. There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy surrounding alpacas, and to many of the people who dedicate their time to raising them, alpacas are not just a business but also a hobby and a passion. As Brian Leach explains, alpacas are an eco-friendly choice of livestock, since they clip the turf like a lawnmower, providing gentle pasture management. Alpaca fleece is also hypo-allergenic and extraordinarily soft, and alpacas tend to have sweet personalities and gentle dispositions.

Sunset Hills Farm sits on 47 rolling acres in Western Pennsylvania, 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh, and a few hours south of Lake Erie and Niagara Falls. With a herd of 100 Accoyo and Peruvian alpacas, by U.S. standards Sunset Hills is considered a large alpaca farm. The farm was founded in 1997 by Dr. David and Laurye Feller, who take tremendous pride in their award-winning alpaca herd. As Mr. Leach tells me, "We're a farm that produces champions; real stars have a permanent home here."

stargazer-livingSunset Hills Farm has become more diverse and dynamic as it has grown - beyond specializing in breeding and selling champion alpacas, the farm also offers an onsite alpaca boutique called Alpaca de Moda, a B&B with two distinct properties, the Sunrise and the Stargazer, and property rentals for special events, including weddings. At Alpaca de Moda, the farm sells its own luxurious, multi-award winning alpaca yarn and locally hand-knit sweaters, hats, and gloves plus imported alpaca garments.

All kinds of guests come for the B&B. Some are interested in raising alpacas themselves (and some will be by the time they leave!), while others are traditional vacationers simply looking for a nice place to stay while they enjoy the golf courses, festivals, hiking, biking, orchards, and farmers markets of the surrounding area. For those interested in raising alpacas, guests have the option of shadowing the farm manager, and helping with chores that may include feedings, grooming, and shearing the alpacas. Guests are also welcome to collect eggs from the farm's small flock of a dozen chickens.

sunrise-cabing-porchGuests choose between two properties, the Sunrise, a traditional three-bedroom, two bath log cabin, or the Stargazer, a two-story, two-bedroom, two bath apartment built into the alpaca barn. Rates for the B&B start at $99/night. Brian stresses the Stargazer's unique appeal: from the inside, it looks like country cottage while from the outside it's an old-fashioned barn. The Stargazer's windows also look directly out onto the alpaca habitat, and toward the surrounding hills and valleys. The Stargazer close in winter, while the Sunset is available for year round stays. Delicious breakfast options might include a frittata or quiche, including ingredients from the garden, or fresh baked goods from local bakeries or the farm kitchen.

For more information about Sunset Hills Farm, including contact information, check out the listings for the Stargazer and the Sunrise on Farm Stay U.S.

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