“Life follows the rhythm of the seasons."
This is not your ordinary campground. Located on a certified organic farm in the rolling hills of northern Illinois, Kinnikinnick Farm’s Feather Down farm tents (part of the Feather Down Farms franchise) offer guests a charming and authentic farm stay experience.
From spring through fall, guests can stay in the spacious wood-floored tents and enjoy beds made with European style linens; wood stoves, along with kindling and wood to cook and keep warm; and fresh, local foods. With no electricity inside the tents, evening light is provided via oil lamps and candles. Hot showers and flush toilets are located in a nearby bathhouse.
The farm was originally founded in 1849, and has been in continuous production since. David and Susan Cleverdon purchased the farm in 1987 and began their organic garden in 1993. Now, they sell their certified organic produce directly to farmers market customers and Chicago-area chefs, as well as partnering with a program that helps feed Chicago’s homeless.
Food and Chores
Guests are welcome to help out with some of the farm chores, like collecting eggs, feeding animals, and harvesting crops, or they may choose to simply explore the countryside and relax.
At Kinnikinnick Farm, guests can purchase meal components like meats, eggs, and produce, then grill outside or cook over their woodstove. The farm also offers “arrival meals” for the first night, and during particular times of year, the outdoor wood-fired oven is available for build-your-own pizza nights.
For folks who want to carry on the fresh, seasonal cooking back home, the farm has a recipe page on their website.
To learn more about Kinnikinnick Feather Down Farm visit their listing here on Farm Stay U.S., then head over to their website to book next year's vacation!
(All photos courtesy Kinnikinnick Farm; Coral VonZumwalt)
If you visit a farm that raises livestock, you may encounter livestock guardian dogs (LGDs). LGDs aren't your usual pet dogs, which people don't always realize. We've heard stories of well-meaning neighbors accusing farmers of mistreating these working animals, or worse, threatening to remove the dogs!
We asked one of our Farm Stay U.S. members, Ruth Pepler of Dogwood Hills Farm in Arkansas, about her experience with LGDs.
Some of the things I have discovered about these amazing dogs over the years I have learned the hard way. Our very first Pyrenees, Maya, was given to us because she would not stay way out in the pasture with the goats. She kept coming to the farm house. Our set up was much more to her liking with our farm house in the middle of the hub of pastures. She was an excellent guardian and could be completely trusted with moms delivering, chickens and baby chicks, and our guests. She knew that the guests belonged there and watched over them as well! They say it's not good to let them socialize with people or they won't do their job. We have not found this to be a problem. When visiting a farm with livestock guardian dogs, it's always good to know the ground rules. These dogs have a very specific job to do, and you would not want to distract them. The rules at Dogwood Farm, for example, are:
LGDs may work alone, if the farm is somewhat small, or there may be several dogs working together.
At first, I didn't know that it's hard for them to be the only LGD if the predators are thick. Our dogs run 72 acres, not a large farm, but surrounded by numerous coyote, big cats, an occasional wolf, and bear. We now have a team of 3 adults and 3 puppies. They work very well rotating and training the younger ones.
One of the things I have noticed as the younger ones step up into a more active role, is that they will dig out a hole or several holes in prime locations for watching their charges. If I can't find a dog, the first thing I do is look out where the goats are, then check the opposite hillside and there, dug into the side of the hill, is a watchful dog.
Winter is a whole other topic. The barn is open on either end. The dogs have access to hay, heated water, and cozy goats to snuggle up with. Where do they sleep? Smack in the middle of the driveway, out in the snow, with a paw over their nose! We've discovered that ice blocks make great toys! They carry them all over the place.
Thanks very much to Ruth for sharing some great photos and talking with us about these special "farm hands"! Do you have questions about livestock guardian dogs? Leave it in the comments.
(Photos courtesy Dogwood Hills Farm)
Netherfield Natural Farm, located in Fontana, Kansas, offers two types of stays in their restored 1882 Victorian farmhouse. You can opt for a traditional B&B style stay (which includes breakfast, of course), or a farm stay with all family style meals included while you're on the farm.
Up on a hill, with great views and plenty of privacy from neighbors, this rural farm has 14 acres, a fishing pond, two story barn (check out their BAR/N - a saloon inside their working barn!), fire pits, picnic areas, and walking trails.
Innkeepers Scott and Matt have honored the history of the original homesteaders by naming the farm's four guest bedrooms after the Vance family. The accommodations are cozy and inviting, giving travelers plenty of private space while the shared living room and dining room spaces offer opportunities for visiting. The bedrooms have either queen or full-size beds; two with private baths and two sharing a bath.
Other amenities include a full kitchen, laundry faciliites, library, internet with free wifi, fire pit, bbq, and a pond. During the summer months, enjoy the new swimming pool!
At Netherfield Natural Farm, guests can enjoy interacting with cows, free-ranging chickens, a turkey, a livestock guardian dog (LGD) and a "house dog", and barn cats. When there are animals that need to be bottle-fed, guests are welcome to pitch in and lend a hand.
Same goes for other chores around the farm, including the garden, where you can potentially help with planting or harvesting, depending on what's needed during your stay.
The farm's stated goal is to be, as much as possible, a self-sustaining place for vacationers who are looking for a temporary rural agrarian experience.
Children under 12 are welcome at Netherfield, as well as parties, family reunions, corporate retreats, and weddings or elopements. If you want to bring pets or your own horses to ride, they can accommodate you! Check out their listing here on Farm Stay U.S., and start planning your Kansas getaway!
Photos courtesy Netherfield Natural Farm
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?
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!
Brrrrr. BRRRRRR. It's cold! You would think it was winter or something.
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*
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:
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.
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