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: gifts

Well, here we are! It's Christmas Eve, and our countdown is over, but I want to leave you with one last gift... the gift of togetherness.

Setting aside the distractions of a non-farm life and creating a meal together from items found in the garden; listening to the sound of more quiet than you're used to, or the unfamiliar noises of goats and chickens; playing in a creek or floating down a river; brushing a horse and playing cowboy; sipping wine; stargazing... these shared experiences are priceless.

We're looking forward to what 2013 has to bring for Farm Stay U.S., all our farms and ranches, and all the travelers whose company we will enjoy. Cheers!

Happy Holidays 2012

Know what's fun? Horseback riding. I spent many a childhood holiday hoping for a chance to go on a trail ride.

Day 2 - Horseback Riding

Trail Ride

Whether going on trail rides, taking part in cattle drives, or making use of indoor or outdoor riding arenas, communing with the horses is a fantastic gift from our farms and ranches.

Since I'm in a wintery mood and would love nothing more than snow for Christmas (which probably won't happen), I'm daydreaming a little here.

Day 3 - Snowshoeing, Snowmobiling, and Skiing

snowshoes

This is different from day eight's sleigh rides because... hmmm, because... because I'm making this up as I go along! Anyway, these are get-up-and-get-moving activities, perfect for working off some of that extra helping of sweet potatoes.

Some farms have lots of land, and you might be able to step right out the door and start snowshoeing. Others are very near popular destinations and make a great place to stay overnight and call home-base to your snowy explorations.

The gift of a winter wonderland!

Well, here we are, just four more days until Christmas! Today's gift comes from trees...

Day 4 - Maple Sugaring

Maple Sugar Tap

Trees that give you SYRUP.

"We elves try to stick to
the four main food groups:
candy, candy canes,
candy corns, and syrup."

Buddy the Elf

I didn't include this in yesterday's post because, while it's something farmers can show or teach, it's not like most people can then go home and tap their own maple trees (unless you have the right kind). Maple sugaring is a seasonal activity, usually taking place in the spring.

The gift of sweetness!

The alpacalypse is coming! Here, this llama will explain...

alpacalypse

Oh.

Sorry.

Okay, all jokes about the end of the world aside, farms are great places to learn a skill or two that might see you through some tough times -- or at the very least, impress your friends at parties. (Seriously. Homemade cheese? I would be so impressed while I hid it all in my purse to take home.) (I like cheese, is what I'm saying.)

Day 5 - Bread, Butter, Jam, and Cheese Making; Canning and Preserving; Soap Making; Teaching Farms; Teaching Ranches; Cooking School

Homemade Butter

Homemade butter

Fresh, whole ingredients, usually straight from the source. A knowledgeable farmer or rancher to teach. These are some invaluable gifts!

The Farm Stay U.S. search page can help you find all kinds of new skills to learn. Just click on "Show More Search Options" and select an activity to see what our members have to offer.

What's your favorite vision of a vineyard? Is it the bare vines in late winter, racing toward a spring bud break? Green leaves and row upon row of lush fruit in the early fall? Or, later, after harvest, the leaves turning green-to-gold-to-orange-to-brown, heralding the vines' winter dormancy?

Day 6 - Vineyards and Wine Touring/Tasting

LLF Vineyard

Wine is sunlight, held together by water.

~Galileo

The end of another harvest...

Isn't there just something lovely about a wine tasting room, too? Congenial and inviting, and most often there is a host willing to teach a thing or two, or just chat about wine. It's such a relaxing way to vacation.

Vineyard stays tend toward the romantic, rather than a full-blown family vacation (although not always - a couple of our vineyard members do allow children under 12!). There are also farms and ranches with wineries nearby that offer tastings or tours, or with vineyards of their own.

This, as Galileo might agree, is the gift of sunlight.

Take a peek at our list of vineyard members, as well as all the members who offer wine touring or tasting as an activity.

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)

Fiber

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.

It's the baking that has brought me here. Baking, using fresh eggs from local farms, has me contemplating all of the gifts our farm, ranch, and vineyard members have to offer us. I thought I'd highlight a few things to be thankful for as we race towards December 25th... one each day, so tune in again tomorrow!

Day 8 - Sleigh Rides

snowman sleigh

Dashing through the snow...

How many of us don't really have snow? Let alone sleighs, and horses to pull them? The idea of sleigh rides bring thoughts of snuggling up in warm clothes, hugging someone close, and listening to the jingle of bells, all while being pulled swiftly along a picturesque lane or over fields. And if I can get my hands on some hot chocolate at the end of the ride... all the better!

This is the gift of cold noses. And giggling.

Check out these Farm Stay U.S. members that offer sleigh rides.

Pleasant Springs Farm Yarn

We're down to the wire. It's two days before Christmas, and many days past Hanukkah. If you, like us, are behind with your gift-buying, we have some ideas especially for the farm and food lovers in your lives.  Heck, these ideas are good all year 'round!

1. A gift certificate for a farm stay. Did you take a farm vacation and love it, and you think your friends or family might love it too? Even when farm stays don't advertise gift certificates, many will happily create one for you if you ask. Farm stays that specifically market gift certificates include Weatherbury Farm in PA, Moonstone Farm (MN), and The Greer Farm (TX).

3. Special farm food, by mail or from the farm shop. Want to give someone a gift of organic avocados? Charan Springs Farm (CA) sells them via mail order. Vermont Maple Syrup? Order some from Couture's Maple Shop and B&B.  How about pickles and preserves from Blackberry Farm (TN) and six-packs of marmalades, jams and chutneys from Aravaipa Farms in AZ?  Don't forget wines from the vineyard farm stays in our group, and nuts and fruits from our orchard members.

2. A CSA membership. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a neat program which works like this: CSA members buy a 'share' of the season's produce (or meat, or yarn, etc.) from a farm, then receive a weekly box with their piece of the bounty. Farmers win by getting an influx of cash at a crucial time, right at the beginning of their season, and members win by getting a good value on fresh food and a closer relationship with the folks who produced it. Farm stays that offer CSAs include Serenity Sheep Farm ( MT), Dog Mountain Farm in WA, The Ponderosa Lodge Farm (WV), Juniper Moon Farm (VA), and Vermont Grand View Farm. These last two offer fiber CSAs instead of traditional vegetable CSAs.

4. Woolen goods and other gifts. WeatherLea Farm (VA) and Stonehaven Family Farm (MA) sell wonderful wool blankets. We mentioned Vermont Grand View Farm and Juniper Moon Farm above for their fiber CSAs; they are also great sources of yarn and rovings. Hartman's Herb Farm (MA) has dried flower arrangements and wreaths and Mirror Lake Bed and Breakfast (IN) has Amish items in its gift shop. Browse Farm Stay U.S. to find others!

Check our farms and ranches out for gift ideas, even after the holiday rush is over. By buying gifts from farms and ranches, you're buying products that are handmade or grown with love. You're getting wonderfully unique products (or experiences) and at the same time you're supporting our small family farmers. The ideas we've listed here are only a few of the possibilities. Know of others? Please leave us a comment and tell us about them.