You might be wondering what you can expect from your farm stay vacation. The answer is as varied as the farms themselves... from luxurious B&B style accommodations, to roughing it in a tent, and almost anything in between. The great news is, you're sure to find a vacation that perfectly suits your group.
As you arrive at the working farm, ranch, or vineyard where you've chosen to stay, you might see animals in a field; large equipment, like tractors or harvesters; acres of orchards or other crops; silos and barns; and fences. Lots of fences. Or, you might not see much more than a gate and more road (perhaps unpaved) to follow before reaching your accommodations.
Don't be intimidated by a closed gate! You're supposed to be there, so just remember this very important rule: leave the gates how you found them. If the gate at the road is closed, open it and drive through, and then close it behind you. If it's standing open, then come on in and leave it open. This rule will apply throughout the property on almost every farm and ranch. Be conscientious about this, or you just may find yourself herding wayward beasts!
Checking in won't necessarily be a formal process like it is at a hotel, where you approach a person behind a desk. Perhaps at some of the larger ranches it will be, but on many farms you're looking for the farmer, a family member, or other worker to let them know you've arrived. Be sure to carefully read all of the information your host sends you before your arrival, so you'll know where to go and what to do first. Please adhere to the check-in times your hosts have indicated.
The smells on a farm are unique, but we don't think they're offensive. No, not even the smell of manure. Depending on when and where you go, you might also smell fresh-cut hay; blossoms on a fruit tree; mulch composting; and various by-product smells of the work being done around the farm. Maybe even... apple pie?!
CLOTHING & SHOES
At the very least, closed-toe shoes are a must. You might want to bring muck boots or other sturdy shoes or boots that you won't mind getting dirty. Your hosts may also provide some "left-behind" boots from prior guests - but don't count on it. It would be best to check with them about the type of footwear that works best on their farm or ranch. Your clothing should depend on whether you choose to lend a hand with some of the chores. Light layers, sun hats, long sleeves and pants, and nothing you wouldn't want to get dirty. Pretty hand-knit sweaters are great for your Instagram moments, but then it's best to switch to an old sweatshirt before the real work begins!
Tip: Find out from your hosts whether there are laundry facilities for you to use during your stay.
While there are quite a few farm stays where you can bring pets, it's best to double check and be sure that this is appropriate for you and your pet. There may be other dogs on site; large livestock; and various hazards around the property.
On a smiliar note, remember that many farm dogs are working guard or herding dogs, and may not behave the same way a family pet would.
This is going to vary wildly. You might get three home-cooked meals a day around the family table, or you might be left to your own devices in your accommodation's kitchen. You may be free to supplement your meals with produce from the garden and eggs from the hen house, or you may be expected to buy these extra items. You may make your meals in a regular kitchen, over a campfire, or in a wood-fired oven (pizza!). Your hosts will give you the full run-down on what you'll want to bring and what you can obtain at the farm or nearby.
Remember, some farms and ranches are miles from town, so you won't necessarily want to run out to the store for that one thing you forgot.
To work, or not to work? Unless expressly indicated as part of your stay agreement, you are not required to do chores. However, most farm, ranch, and vineyard stays are delighted for you to show an interest in their daily work. Please feel free to offer to lend a hand if you are so inclined, and follow your hosts' directions. You are likely to be able to do things like collect eggs, feed chickens, brush horses or donkeys, harvest crops, or milk goats or cows. Driving a tractor is not as likely. Some cattle operations allow guests to help with cattle drives or sorting, other farms may not let you ride their horses. It just depends on what they - and their insurance providers - have decided is safe for their guests.
Your hosts also want you to relax and have fun, so it'll be up to you how much or how little you want to pitch in! If you'd rather sit on the porch with a book and a glass of wine, or go for a hike on your own, that's absolutely fine too.
Don't be surprised if you and your group are left alone for much of your stay - these are working operations, and your hosts will be busy, but they will also probably have a routine and be available for guests who want to participate in the farm life.
There are so many activities and sights and sounds and new experiences to be had on a farm, ranch, or vineyard stay - what will you choose? Check out our listings and see where they lead you!