" The day that I drove
into western Washington County, there had been a steady rain for hours, curtailing my
plans to spend the afternoon touring the countryside. Instead, I decided to arrive at
Weatherbury Farm, near the village of Avella, earlier than anticipated, hoping it wouldn't
be a problem.
Almost as soon as my car began sloshing
its way up the farm lane, three people appeared at the gate ahead, watching my approach.
As I opened the door to step out of my car, a friendly greeting was called out while
outstretched hands welcomed me and a smiling teenage boy immediately began helping with my
I had to laugh at the comedy of it all -- the
two hosts, their son and the guest, all standing out there in the rain, exchanging
friendly banter. But it was a standard greeting, I was assured by Marcy and Dale Tudor.
'We meet all of our guests at the gate -- no matter what the weather,' Marcy explained.
'We want them to feel welcome.' It worked. Within minutes, I felt at home with the Tudors,
who have turned their working farm into a destination where families can spend a week or a
weekend experiencing hands-on-farm life.
In the early 80s, while Dale was employed by a
German fir, he and Marcy had the opportunity to frequent the quaint pensiones and guest
houses of Europe. Upon returning to the States, and searching for an older home on about
10 acres, they came across their 1870s house and 100-acre farm in 1986.
Named Weatherbury for the farm in the the Thomas
Hardy novel, Far From the Madding Crowd, Marcy and Dale proceeded to 'un-update'
it. On Memorial Day weekend in 1992, they welcomes their first bed and breakfast guests.
As time passed, they realized that many of their guests yearned for a more hands-on
approach at the farm, so unlike many bed and breakfast operators, the Tudors began to
actively seek out the family market.
When a family checks in, the children are given
a copy of Weatherbury Farm's Official Kid Workbook, an 8-page project booklet
with color photographs, designed to help children have a fun, safe and educational farm
experience. Upon completion, they are given a "Certificate of Achievement" as an
official junior farm hand. Some of the activities children participate in include helping
to feed the farm animals and learning about the different types of farm machinery.
The Tudors offer visitors a total of four guest
rooms in two different areas. In their 1870s home, there are two large guest rooms each
with a private bath and a queen-size bed (ed. note: beds are double-size); and in a
converted summer kitchen, there are two more guest rooms. On the ground floor of the
summer kitchen, guests will find a walk-in fireplace, queen-size bed and a sofa bed. The
second floor has two twin beds that can be converted into a king-size, with a daybed
supplementing the sleeping area. Both floors have a private bath with a claw foot tub and
Weatherbury Farm is located at 1061 Sugar Run,
Avella 15312. The rates for all rooms are $74 per couple the first night and $65 for each
subsequent night. Each additional adult/child is $10 per night. A delicious country
breakfast will satisfy almost anyone until dinner, when a variety of local restaurant fare
is available for visitors.
Repeat business comprises more than 50 percent
of their bookings, so call early for a family weekend during peak months. Contact Marcy
and Dale at 724-587-37363. Their web site, which has a tour of the farm is www.weatherburyfarm.com. "