" Farm Stays
give farmers a chance to meet people from all walks of life and make extra money
on the side,'' said Marcy Tudor.
As the president of the Pennsylvania Farm
Vacation Association, Inc., Tudor is a vocal advertisement of the program
that offers city and suburban residents a chance to leave stress behind and
escape to the peace and quiet of the country. She, her husband Dale, and son
Nigel operate a 104-acre farm where guests from around the world get a taste
of a working farm.
"This is a way to help the farmer keep the
farm,'' Tudor said of the financial benefits of the Farm Stay program.
But even more satisfying than monetary
rewards for Tudor and other farm owners participating in the program are
establishing friendships with guests from around the world.
"I get to travel the world without leaving my
breakfast table,'' Tudor said.
Tudor compiles remarks about guests' farm
visits. Typical of the remarks are some version of the sentiments, "my best
vacation ever,'' and "perfect place to escape the maddening crowd.''
Each of the 24 farms listed in the
Association's Guide offer their own unique flavors. Some places offer
hands-on petting zoos, others require visitors to watch farm activity from a
distance. Some serve a full breakfast like Tudor does, but that isn't a
requirement for Farm Stays. Bonnie Schubert said, "I homeschool six children
and it's enough to get them fed without cooking for guests.''
So visitors at Hummerhaven Farmstead, Juniata
County, are on their own for breakfast but quite involved in day-to-day
activities. It's difficult to discern who enjoys the Farm stay program more
_ Bonnie, her husband Gary, and their six or the guests.
"I tell them to plan to get dirty and bring
their old clothes,'' Schubert said. Their 127-acre farm is a child's
paradise. Llamas, mini donkeys, babydoll sheep, dwarf goats, bunnies,
kitties, and even potbelly pigs are their for petting and snuggling. Fish in
the pond, canoe or paddleboat down the
river, explore woodland trails "to lose the world and find yourself.''
Not all places cater to little ones or are a
working farm. Charlie and Bunny Yinger operate the Strawberry Patch Bed and
Breakfast set on 10 acres in
Lebanon County. The recently-constructed log home with six large guests
rooms, private baths, fireplaces, and Jacuzzi tubs offers a large tea room
hold weddings, special events, and retreats. The Yingers boast the largest
collection of Strawberry Shortcake items anywhere. Bunny said it took
insurance appraisers two days cataloging their collection. They also have
every strawberry-related item imaginable.
"If there is another one anywhere, we aren't
aware of it,'' she said.
The Yingers also market their own house
dressing and strawberry jelly to guests. A portion of the profits from the
Strawberry Patch are donated to
the Make A Wish Foundation.
In addition to typical bed and breakfast
lodging, Barry and Linda Vance offer special events such as bicycle weekends
and even murder mystery weekends.
Linda said their 1820 stone farm home has
been the site of wedding receptions, and retreats. Located on 42 acres
within easy access to Penn State, Raystown Lake, antiques, caves, trails,
and amusement parks,
there is plenty to do. The Vances welcome help with morning chores.
Gathering eggs, checking bee hives, and putting away hay are some of guests'
Tudor said that farm visits have been brisk
since Sept. 11. "People see rural areas as safer places to go.''
The Tudors raise Hereford cattle, a small
herd of Scottish Highland cattle, a flock of registered Southdown sheep, and
Arauncana and bantam chickens at Weatherbury Farm. To help guests understand
about farm life, Tudor published a booklet "Everything You Have Always
Wanted To Know About
The booklet offers a bit of interesting
history, activities, possibilities, and farm safety rules. A chapter on
""Farming Spoken Here'' defines such words as cow, bull, yearling, steer,
and ag terminology such as crossbreeding and polled.
Many guests pay $3 to purchase a recipe
booklet filled with Tudor's breakfast recipes to please the most
discriminating tastes. Recipes include impressive entrees such as Creamy
Peach-Filled French Toast and
the sure-to-appeal-to-the-kids to whom the farm caters_Green Eggs, No Ham.
For the curious, here is her recipe.
Green Eggs, No Ham
1 cup milk
1 small onion quartered
green pepper, seeded, halved
6-ounces mushroom soup
1/4 cup milk
1 cup Swiss cheese
Put eggs, 1 cup milk, onion, and green pepper
into blender. Process at "chop'' until onion and green pepper are finely
Pour into skillet and cook over medium-high
heat to scramble eggs. Remove eggs to quart-greased casserole.
Mix mushroom soup and 1/4 cup milk. Spoon
over eggs. Top with cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.