" Don Frazier and
his family spend enough time in the fast lane, with him teaching, his wife
working as an accountant and their daughters involved in various activities.
So when the family from
Abilene, Texas, was looking 'for a real, live traditional farm.' they turned to
the internet and looked at the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association link.
They decided to visit the
Weatherbury Farm in Avella, Washington County, and found the vacation of their
Farm vacations, increasingly
popular with people tired of trading crowded streets for crowded resorts, seem
to be a classic win-win situation.
They give city-slickers a
chance to get away from it all and learn how farmers grow crops and raise
livestock. They give farmers a chance to meet people from all walks of life and
earn a little extra money.
'Interest in farm vacations is
growing,' said Marcy Tudor, Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association president and
owner of Weatherbury Farm with her husband, Dale. 'People want to get back to
their family's roots. Sometimes, we have three generations of a family visiting
Biz Fogie, who with her
husband, Tom, owns Olde Fogie Farm in Marietta, Lancaster County, said people go
on farm vacations to experience a simpler life.
'Some people see 'Little House
on the Prairie' and want to try it out,' she joked. 'We have people come here
straitlaced and stiff. After a few days, they become part of the family, relax
and have fun. But they want their comfort, too. We have to offer air
conditioning and television or we won't get them here.'
Some farms cater to families.
Some specialize in activities such as biking, riding or fishing. Others promote
their proximity to nearby tourist attractions. Nearly all allow visitors to
stroll around the farm and help with farm chores such as feeding animals and
'Leave the stress of the city
behind and escape to the peace and quiet of the country,' Tudor said. 'Awake to
the crow of the rooster and a homemade breakfast like Grandma used to make.
Enjoy the antics of our barnyard animals. Take time to enjoy life and relax.'
The Fraziers did just that at
Weatherbury Farm. This 100-acre farm about 34 minutes from Pittsburgh has
livestock galore: Herefords and Scottish Highland beef cattle, Southdown, Dorset
and Jacob sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, geese and cats.
'We're a working beef farm
staffed by our family of three, not Disney World with a staff of thousands,'
'The first night people come
here, they're often wound up and the kids need to run off their energy. Then
they spend the next day bottle-feeding the sheep, feeding the baby goats and
gathering eggs. By the next night, they're relaxed.
Frazier said that was true for
'There's no pressure and a
watch is optional,' he said. 'May wife and I sat under a tree and talked with
families from Baltimore and the Columbus area while our kids played together on
the swing set and with the kittens. The weather is great -- it's like the whole
area is air-conditioned!'
His wife, Susan, called the
experience a much-needed low key vacation.
'Kids now have sensory
overload,,' she said. 'So coming here is good for them and safe too. It's very
peaceful, and we slept well. The breakfast was wonderful with blueberry
Their daughters, Kay, 9, and
Sarah, 4, said they enjoyed playing with the kittens, feeding lambs, goats and
chickens. 'I hope we come back sometime,' Sarah said.
Farm vacation visitors aren't
required to help, although most can't resist pitching in.
The Fogies, self-proclaimed
'leftover hippies.' operate a 20-acre farm that includes sheep, goats, chickens
and beef calves. Fogie sad she rings a bell when it's time for chores at the
Olde Fogie Farm.
At the sound of the bell,
Wootz, a 7-year-old pig, comes to the main gate
and waits for someone to open it and brush her, Fogie said.
'I tell people that she has an
oink button,' she said. 'If you know where it is and push, she grunts. Nerd is
another of our pigs. When she grunts, it sounds like she's saying Nerd. We have
two llamas which kiss you'
Fogie said that guests seem to
like feeding the animals, gathering eggs and brushing horses. Some sweep, but
few work with the 'dung fork because it's heavy and dangerous work.'
Guests relax in the swimming
pond with clear water, three waterfalls and giant koi, which 'disappear' when
people get into the water.
'Sometimes, people take their
kids to Hersheypark, and the kids say the want to come back to the farm,' Fogie
said. 'One kid wrote in our book that 'I was at Disney World and I like this
better.' That really amazes me.'
Fogie and Tudor said that
escalating gas prices don't seem to be affecting the number of visitors they're
getting, although it may eventually mean that more visitors come from nearby.
'Right now, we visitors from
all over the East Coast and even people from California, Alaska, and Hawaii but
very few from the Midwest," Fogie said. 'Last year, we also had guest from
Russia, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.'
She and Tudor expect this to be
a good summer with people coming to the farms for quiet, rural beauty and hearty
breakfast. For more information, visit www.pafarmstay.com"