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: ranch

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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.

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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)

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Farm Goods & Good Eats

The ranch offers an array of goods, including farm-fresh eggs, goat milk, a variety of meats and organic compost.

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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).

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Family-friendly Activities

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.

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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.

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gardening

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.

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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.

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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).

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(Photo Credit: Willow-Witt Ranch)

Happy New Year, Travelers!

We'd like to invite you to come like our page on Facebook, if you haven't already. We love to chat and hear your stories, and we often share great photos and info from our farm and ranch members there.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Sandpoint, Idaho

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In the early 90's, a fifth generation cattle-ranching family decided that they wanted to share the beauty, history, and heritage of the land that they'd been working since 1940... and, so, Western Pleasure Guest Ranch began extending their country hospitality to overnight guests.

Located in Idaho's scenic Panhandle region, the 1,100 acre ranch has spectacular views of the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, as well as being adjacent to thousands of acres of land for horseback riding or cross country skiing. Owner Janice Schoonover tells us that they enjoy four true seasons and "the landscape is stunning with the changes that each of the seasons bring."

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Guests staying at the ranch can enjoy different activities, depending on what time of year they visit. Summertime brings all-inclusive guest ranch packages, which feature horseback riding as the main activity, with additional opportunites to enjoy wagon rides, working with cattle, skeet shooting, and archery. Guests may also enjoy a dinner cruise on Lake Pend Orielle, or canoeing down the Packriver.

In the winter, there are horsedrawn sleigh rides, cross country skiing, and snow shoeing. Right now, in the fall, it's an excellent time for leaf peeping - taking in all the gorgeous autumn colors.

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The lodge - made of handhewn logs - has six private rooms with private baths, plus a rec room, a great room with a large riverrock fireplace, a loft sitting area, and a hot tub. There are also four private log cabins with private baths that each sleep six. The cabins have furnished kitchens and wood stove heat.

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Western Pleasure Guest Ranch welcomes group retreats, family reunions, corporate retreats and provides a beautiful and unique setting for weddings. Beginning September 30th, the ranch will host Bed and Breakfast stays - an example of the different offerings that change with the seasons.

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To learn more about Western Pleasure Guest Ranch, take a look at the video below, and then visit their listing on Farm Stay U.S. Now is a great time to book for a winter getaway, or start thinking about a guest ranch adventure for next summer!

CA Bull Elk Ranch in Richfield, Idaho

NEW MEMBER SPOTLIGHT!

Today we are extending a hearty "welcome!" to CA Bull Elk Ranch, in Richfield, Idaho.

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Located on 800 acres of pristine recreational and hunting habitat, CA Bull Elk Ranch is a working elk and upland game bird operation. Visitors can take part in fishing, hiking, bird watching and wildlife viewing, upland game bird hunting, snowshoeing and x-country skiing, photography, or just unplugging from the hectic world. There are also some of the usual farm animals, like chickens and geese.

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There are four guest rooms with private baths, along with a large common area for relaxing, reading, or exercise. The stay also includes 3 meals a day prepared from food raised primarily on the ranch and by other local producers. Children under 12 are welcome at the ranch.

To learn more and plan a visit, check out the CA Bull Elk Ranch listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!

(Photos courtesy CA Bull Elk Ranch)

Please join us in extending a warm Farm Stay U.S. welcome to Heirloom Blooms at Acres Wild Ranch!

Heirloom Blooms - Collecting Bugs

Take a bite out of history! Explore and enjoy the heirloom vegetables and herb gardens, and the heritage fruit tree orchard. Learn about sustainability through composting, recycling, and energy/water conservation. Take a hike on the nature trail and view some wildlife. It's a "choose your own adventure" kind of vacation.

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There are four guest cottages at Acres Wild Ranch, sleeping anywhere from 4 to 6 people, and pets are welcome for an additional fee. Meals are self-prep, and the cottages all have either a kitchenette or a full kitchen. The ranch offers a wide range of amenities, and they welcome children under 12, wedding parties, and other special events.

To learn more and start planning your adventure, visit the Heirloom Blooms at Acres Wild Ranch listing here on Farm Stay U.S.!


(Photos courtesy Heirloom Blooms)

Here's a very belated welcome to M Diamond Ranch, a new member of Farm Stay U.S., who joined the site back in January!

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It's "horseback riding heaven" at this 100-year-old working cattle ranch, with trail rides and cowboy cookouts, featuring some of the best views in Sedona. The ranch is completely surrounded by the Coconino National Forest, rural but not too remote, and close to a number of archaeological sites.

The historic, 1930s guest house has a fully equipped, full-sized kitchen, and sleeps up to 10 people. The five bedroom house is updated and comfortable, with amenities like a flat screen tv, wireless internet, and a full size washer and dryer. Even the horses can stay at the ranch's Horse Hotel!

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To learn more about M Diamond Ranch, visit their Farm Stay U.S. listing.

(Photos courtesy M Diamond Ranch)

Check out this video from Men's Journal featuring Red Reflet Ranch in Ten Sleep, Wyoming! Guests, in this case Ryan Van Duzer, help with herding cattle on this 27,000 acre ranch in the Big Horn Mountains.

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We asked Ryan some questions about his cowboy experience.

What was the wrangling experience like for you - any funny things happen?

The wrangling experience was like nothing I've ever done before. I've ridden horses but never surrounded by hundreds of stinky, stubborn little cows. It surprised me at how difficult it was to make the herd travel in the direction we wanted, I thought they'd just get in line and march off to greener pastures. There was one moment when a rather rambunctious cow picked a fight with my horse, causing it to rear up and I almost flew off. Clay, the head cowboy said in a soft tongue, "We almost lost our host on that one." From that moment on the 'real' cowboys kept the fighter far away from me.

What was the best part of your trip to Red Reflet? And, no, driving the Range Rover is not included!

The absolute best part of the Red Reflet are the owners Laurence and Bob, they treated us like family and after four days together we really didn't want to leave.

What is you best piece of advice for someone thinking of taking a ranch vacation?

The best advice is to have an open mind and be willing to try everything. Staying at a ranch is much different than staying at a resort because you get to participate in activites alongside real working cowboys. There really is nothing like it and the charm of ranch life is sure to make anyone fall in love with the western lifestyle.


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

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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.

Please join us in giving a hearty welcome to four new site members who joined us in October! Here are some quick highlights from their listings:

Triple Creek Farm

Triple Creek Farm

Berger, Missouri

Berger Guesthouse at Triple Creek Farm is located in Franklin County Missouri in the middle of Missouri Wine Country.... We are located just a few miles east of Hermann, Missouri or a few miles west of New Haven, Missouri. We are a working farm. We have an apiary (bees), berries, vegetables, eggs and sell at the local farmers market. We have a two suite guesthouse and love to welcome visitors to the area all year round.


Territorial B and B

Territorial Bed and Breakfast and Barn

Junction City, Oregon

We have a cute and cozy 50's style farmhouse and a working stable located in the heart of Oregon wine country. Immerse yourself in country living, enjoy a morning walk in the pasture, pet the horses, play with the goats, and experience farm life. Plenty of opportunities to groom and help care for the horses, help out with barn chores, work in the garden and green house, or sit back on the deck or patio in the back yard, watch the animals, and enjoy a good book or a relaxed conversation.


Fox Haven Farms

Fox Haven Farms

Middletown, Maryland

Fox Haven is a historic farm located along the Catoctin Creek in Jefferson, Maryland. Organic gardens, hens, walking trails and wildlife make this farm a must-stay. You are likely to see nesting bald eagles, beaver splashing, great blue herons, foxes and a multitude of birds during your visit. You may choose to help in the organic gardens, gather eggs for breakfast, help plant trees in our American Chestnut research orchard, or simply enjoy the peace and quiet of the breathtaking landscape with a cup of coffee and a good book.


B and B Ranch

B and B Ranch

Fly Creek, New York

B & B Ranch, Guest House & Spa is a Country Inn in rural Fly Creek New York. It's also a Community Supported Farm, a producer of natural gourmet foods, a horse stable and riding center, and an exceptional Central New York vacation on 340 acres of forest, farmland and open pasture. We raise Piedmontese beef, Berkshire Pork and provide a wonderful break from the ordinary with our 5 unique guest suites and an indoor swimming pool. We can promise you rest, relaxation, and the best the country has to offer.

southernazhistoricfarmsTravel Writer and librarian Lili DeBarbieri recently published a wonderful book called  A Guide to Southern Arizona's Historic Farms and Ranches, Rustic Southwest Retreats.

We talked with Lili about her book, Southern Arizona, her travel adventures, and farm and ranching trends. Fascinating stuff -- please read on!

FSUS: When was the first time you heard the term 'farm stay?' How about 'guest ranch?'

Lili: I think first became aware of the term 'farm stay' in association with the volunteer opportunities that the organization World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) offers. This was more than ten years ago but I distinctly remember reading an article about volunteer vacations on Hawaiian farms through WWOOF. I do have to give credit to my home state of Pennsylvania for bringing the more leisurely alterative to WWOOF in the form of 'farm stays' again to my attention. Once I saw that staying on a working farm (in Lancaster County) was the same if not cheaper in price than a hotel or motel but offered such wonderful learning opportunities as an added bonus I was sold! A few years ago, I worked and lived on a historic guest ranch near Santa Fe and that was my introduction to that vacation option.

FSUS: What inspired you to write "A Guide to Southern Arizona's Historic Farms and Ranches: Rustic Southwest Retreats", and why did you choose to focus on Southern Arizona?


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Lili: The type of traveling I tend to gravitate towards in my personal life inspired the content of the book -- unique vacations, working holidays, eco-tourism -- all of which intertwine during a stay on a ranch or farm. It seemed though that much more attention had been previously focused on WWOOF volunteer opportunities as a holiday option so I wanted to bring the concept of 'farm stays' and 'guest ranches' more to the forefront. I like to call farm-stays "WOOF-ing light."
I also thought it would be interesting to write about a part of the country that is not normally as highly associated with agriculture and agri-tourism in the same way that the Midwest, the East Coast or California is as well as to encourage the support of Arizona's local businesses and economy. The incredible landscape, character and color of the region provided an easy palate.

 

FSUS: In chapter two of your book, "Courting Relaxation: A brief history of guest ranching," you discuss how Easterners and Europeans became enamored of Southern Arizona and began guest ranching there in the 1880s, even before there were many modern comforts at the ranches. Was Southern Arizona a pioneer in the guest ranch industry, or was a similar movement happening in other parts of the West at the same time?

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Lili: Yes! Great question. This whole region was very much a trailblazer in the guest ranching industry. Through what I was able to piece together from historical archives there is very strong evidence that the very first guest ranches began right here in Southern Arizona as early as the 1860s but guest ranching was slower to really take off because of the climactic conditions well before air-conditioning that made the tourism season here shorter than other Western states such as Wyoming and Montana, where guest ranching had its early beginings as well.

FSUS: How did you choose the ranches and farms that ended up in your book?


Lili: The criteria I aimed for when I first began writing the book were to put together a list of places that had a great deal of not only history and scenic beauty but were also locally owned, environmentally friendly and were contributing in positive ways to their communities. I started with internet searches and looked at members of professional associations in the industry. Then, over time, I just serendipitously stumbled upon many of the ranches and farms throughout the course of my research.

FSUS: Do you have a favorite story or moment from researching your book?


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Lili: A series of them-the Triangle L guest ranch in Oracle holds a sentimental place in my heart since it was the first ranch I visited back when I began writing the book and I am still amazed by its art, architecture, vibe and scenery. Going up there recently for the annual GLOW festival was like "coming home" in a way. The day I spent at the Circle Z Ranch trail riding through the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve and then afterwards having lunch at the local saloon was a real highlight as well.

FSUS: Veronica Schultz, who co-owns Rancho de la Osa with her husband, says that they run the guest ranch in part "to continue a lifestyle that is dying. Guest ranches are remote, and fewer and fewer exist every year." Are guest ranches in fact decreasing in numbers? If so, why?


Lili: Yes, for example at the turn of the twentieth century, the greater Tucson area alone had over 100 guest ranches and that number has dwindled to about three. The costs of operating a guest ranch and the challenges involved in actually turning a profit, like any business, are considerable. This reality is probably a microcosm of what has happened in many other sectors of society. Modern urban development in the past few decades around the country has overtaken the natural land and wide open spaces needed to own a farm stay or guest ranch and provide the appropriate experiences for guests. What traveler wants to horse-back ride through a subdivision? But there is also a resurgence of interest in unique vacations driving tourists to look beyond generic forms of accommodation and towards a stay in the country.

FSUS: Can you talk a bit about the trends in farming and ranching happening in Southern Arizona?


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Lili: Guest ranches during the 1920s and 1930s were that generation's answer to a "staycation." Traveling overseas was really only an option for the very wealthy. Now, with the high cost of air travel there is that comparable economic incentive to participate in agri-tourism as people everywhere are looking for more affordable options for travel.
At any given moment there are different trends and words circulating in the public's imagination have influenced farming, ranching and the accompanying tourism --sustainability, heritage foods, farm to table, back-to-nature, purposeful living. The desire for simple, timeless travel experiences is certainly an influence.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the art and films being made brought a lot of travelers and would-be adventurers out West. Now, what drives the interest in staying on a guest ranch or farm is more food, health and wellness related. The slow food movement ignited an interest in cooking with fresh, local, seasonal foods. I can't open a popular women's magazine without seeing an article listing the "best farmers markets around the country" or the "health benefits of fruits and vegetables", the glamorization of rural living!
Overall, there is more of an awareness of and desire to intentionally support local businesses in general and that has spilled over into the idea of "knowing your farmer" and to the financial support of local farms and ranches through direct purchases as well. It is now a selling point for a business to use local ingredients or materials. I notice that farmers and ranchers are really reaching out to involve, promote and educate their communities. Guest ranches in particular have really upped their game over the years and now offer so many varied opportunities to not only enjoy the outdoors but to really take something away in an educational sense from your vacation. In our school districts in Arizona, gardens are used for teaching children about science, math and many other subjects and sourcing from local farms into many school cafeterias is quite commonplace now and it was not say twenty years ago. It is a turn for the better.


To buy Lili's book, visit www.farmstayus.com/shop/guidebooks