Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hey! Take a "Haycation"!

This was a new one from PBS Car Radio.  Apparently many people are now planning vacations on working farms and ranches.  These also go by the name "farm vacations."

Having visited my Aunt Vera and Uncle Floyd's farm outside of Yates Center, KS, many times as a child, I'm in a position to advise you that "farm vacation" is truly an oxymoron.  And theirs was only a traditional small farm with limited acreage, a pair of immense draft horses, a couple of pigs, a milk cow or two, a flock of chickens and a mindless Collie named "Ringo."  Vera worked with all of the animals while Floyd took the draft horses to the plow or reaper.

She had a vegetable garden and in summer, she canned fruits and vegetables as they became ripe.  She had an electric separator for the milk and a manual churn for butter.  She also cooked or baked every bite they ate

Stays there were, for me, a vacation -- fetching the eggs, getting water for the baby chicks gathered around the base of the big stove in the kitchen, trying to edge past the fence that kept them close to the warmth on still-not-Spring days... jumping from the barn loft into the shelled barley...

Curious, I looked up farm vacations and found a surprisingly robust industry.  Some of the listings on   invited one to come to a bison ranch, to apple cider press, stay on a chicken farm.  One advertiser wrote, "I raise English Shire horses, Nubian goats, chickens and pigs."  Ranches offered riding lessons, trail hikes and actually helping out with the farm chores.

Visitors are advised to bring clothes that won't cause the owner to have a heart attack if they get dirty, rubber boots for muddy farm yards, to find out which meals will be provided (usually breakfast only) and whether you will have admission to their kitchen and whether you can help yourself to vegetables in the garden.

Chantilly Ridge Alpacas, in Florida, sounded interesting.  Pholia Farm Goat Cheese Dairy's guest headquarters are a restored 1970 Airstream trailer.  You're invited to learn how to make goat cheeses but beware of their advertised boast:  "This farm is completely off of the power grid!" like it's something to be proud of!  Alors!

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