a farm tour kind of weekend

We welcomed fall back this weekend with a farm tour here in western NC~

farm tour, day one:

Claire and I breakfasted on french toast then met friends at the market for a little catching up before we headed out to pick up papa (he was busy having his head shaved for a charity fundraising event through the FD) for the farm tour.

We visited four farms.  Two were oh-so-wonderful, leaving us inspired and yearning for a farm of our own, one was just getting established and perhaps not quite 'there' for a farm tour event, and another was interesting but not so well organized and had a notable lack of signage to point us in the right direction(s).  The frustration of which was exacerbated by hunger and the slow coaxing of two-year-old feet up a long gravel drive that we hoped would lead to some lunch.  It did.  Which was, of course, helpful.

Heading out, I thought maybe we'd be able to see 5 or even 6 farms, all in one general area of Madison County.  The tour folks recommend not aiming for more than 3 or 4 a day though and they are on to something with that, for sure.  Our favorites of the day were East Fork Farm, which was so well run and organized and turns out to have a perfect little cabin (with cedar hot tub) available for rentals, and Wild Mountain Apiaries, a sweet little place where we watched chickens, got some of our bee questions answered (looks as though we'll be needing to combine our two hives to get them through the winter, more on that to come), lingered for a bit, and tasted lots of honey.  They have a micro-hydro electric system with solar backup and are completely off-grid.  Along with some new beekeeping gloves, we brought home a pound of sourwood honey and a small jar of amazing lavender-infused honey.  Claire's highlight was surely visiting (and revisiting, and re-revisting....) the table with the honey samples.  That girl is fearless, I tell you.  Despite the yellow jackets hovering all around and on the jars, she stood by, touching and tasting.

(pictured above is a tobacco field we passed~ although there were no tobacco farms on the tour, and they are, for various reasons, dwindling in number, it is a crop with a huge history in North Carolina and I find the huge lofty drying barns so lovely and the fields of speared and drying tobacco an eerily beautiful sight)

(this honey won't last long around here...)

farm tour, day two:

With Mike at work, Claire and I were joined by some dear friends for our farm tour adventures on Sunday.  After a slow morning at home, we picked them up and headed over the mountain towards Burnsville, in Yancey County.  We spent the majority of our time at one place~ the lovely beyond words Mountain Farm, home to many goats, a pair of guard llamas, some sheep and chickens, and lots of lavender.  My friend said at one point that it didn't even seem like the place was real, it was so idyllic.  And really, that's what it was like.  Various (beautifully built) barns and outbuildings were tucked into nooks and crannies in the generally steep landscape, there is a lavender labyrinth, sheep grazing with their bells quietly jingle-jangling, wind turbines spinning away.... it was also the loveliest of early autumn days, so it was hard to go wrong.  We sat in the sunshine on a hill covered in lavender and overlooking fields with goats and llamas, watching our girls play together and run around.  Perfect, really.  We each had a turn at milking one of their Nubians.  I quite enjoyed it (Claire helped, too), though was sad that I felt like I should do it quickly so as not to keep the next person waiting.  It's a bit of a bonding experience, you know?  That was the first time I milked an animal and I kind of felt like I should have lit a candle, dimmed the lights, and provided her with some soothing music.  Or something like that.  I've been there.  Candles, dim lights and soft music sure can't hurt.

After lingering a bit longer over warm cider and the lavender smells coming from the shop, we each purchased a few goodies, (soap, lavender spray, and lavender balm for me) got the girls in the car and drove a little ways over to another farm just in time to see a border collie herding demonstration and hear the farmer talk (quite lovingly) about his cows.

(they are being monsters up there, in case it isn't entirely obvious)

There wasn't a whole lot to see at the second farm.  Their heirloom apples had all been lost in a freeze this spring and the cows had been herded to a new field, and it was getting late, so after letting the girls run wild we poked around a bit and then got back in the car.  We wound our way down windy mountain roads and before heading into the home stretch, we decided: ice cream for dinner.

Dot's Dario.  A bit of a dive, in a converted and added onto trailer of sorts.  With a very odd changing blinky-light sign that scrolled through ice cream flavors and things like "Dot's Dairio- a great place to bring kids" with some really odd things thrown in here and there: some trivia, the very odd "they strike most often between 5 and 6am" (randomly in there between flavors and store hours, with no reference to who or what "they" are...) and something (I swear) about human blood (I'm thinking it must have been the answer to one of the off-beat trivia questions).  I mentioned it to the girl behind the counter and she leaned her head out, straining to see the sign, and said "I dunno, I've never read it."


Anyway, we got our usual, Claire and I.  Vanilla in a cone for her.  Sprinkles?  Yes, please.  A chocolate malt ("as malty as you can make it, please") for me.  We were bundled in sweaters and a blanket as we sat on the picnic table eating our ice cream.  The girls took turns wrapping each other up in the blanket and pretending they were babies.  Surely, this marked the final ice-cream-for-dinner night for the year for us.

At least out in the elements and all.

*linking up with amanda at habit of being


  1. love seeing that tobacco field like that. makes me think a bit of the sugarcane fields around here after they've cut the cane but before they come through and burn the fields.

  2. sounds like a beautifully haunting sight, burning sugarcane fields.....


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