Weatherbury Farm Stay
Weatherbury Farm offered farm vacation stays for 25 years, from 1992 until 2017. Thousands of folks visited the farm to learn more about farming and agriculture and the opportunity to kick back and enjoy life in the slow lane.
We met a lot of wonderful folk and thank everyone who visited!
In 1980-81, Dale was on a liaison assignment with Bayer AG in Leverkusen, Germany. Due to the nature of the assignment, he was eligible for six weeks of vacation (standard for German workers). Dale and Marcy soon discovered pensiones and guest houses — and loved the experience! We enjoyed the opportunity so much that we decided a bed and breakfast would be in our future.
On returning to the United States, we continued to vacation in bed and breakfasts. And began looking for an old house to restore, on about 10 acres. After two years, and many homes, we fell in love with what was to become Weatherbury Farm (with its 100+ acres). The rest as they say is history.
The Weatherbury Farm Kids Program began in 1998 to give the young and young at heart the opportunity to learn more about farming and agriculture. 1420 kids completed the “Junior Farm Kid,” ”Farm Kid,” and “Junior Farmer” program over the years.
Farm Stay Visitors received a packet (filled with coloring & activity books and educational materials) about farming and every child was invited to earn the “Official Weatherbury Farm Kid” designation.
After enjoying Weatherbury’s farm breakfast, children of all ages were invited to help with in-depth morning chores. Chores included many different farm activities (depending on the time of year and interest): pumping water at the old hand pump for the animals, bottle feeding baby animals, feeding baby chicks & ducks, feeding and watering chickens at the hen house and gathering eggs (the high point of many children’s visit), visiting the flour mill (after it opened in 2014, visiting the garden (and perhaps digging onions or potatoes or collecting other vegetables), and visiting the cows in the field.
Chore time also included an explanation of the farm equipment and was an opportunity for both children and parents to ask Farmer Dale questions. The emphasis during farm experience chores was naturally on the organic and sustainable production methods used at Weatherbury Farm.
Younger children did chores and completed a picture worksheet; older children had fun doing chores and learning with our “Official Farm Kid Workbook.” Children who completed the program were awarded our “Official Junior Weatherbury Farm Kid, ” “Official Weatherbury Farm Kid” or “Junior Farmer” certificate. (Children who completed the “Official Farm Kid Workbook” on a previous visit were invited to complete our “Official Junior Farmer Workbook” to learn even more about farming and agriculture.)
There were many activities right on the farm for the guest who wanted to be busy, and those who so desired could be busy doing nothing at all. Guests could relax on the porches, picnic on the grounds, or enjoy the swimming pool on a summer day (pool was open memorial day to labor day).
Many families had fun watching (from a distance, of course) Farmer Dale & Farmer Nigel at work in the fields. Or sometimes (more often than we liked), the farmers might have been working on keeping the farm equipment in good running order. Some families liked to get their hands dirty and help Marcy in the garden.
With Pittsburgh, Washington PA and panhandle West Virginia are within easy driving distance, Weatherbury Farm provided a stopping-off place for exploring the many attractions of the area. Thus, some families chose to visit nearby attractions during their stay. Our booklet, “Everything you wanted to know about Weatherbury Farm and What to do during your stay” gave information not only on the history of the farm, our operations and animals but also about the wealth of attractions that could be visited in the area.
Most families, however, enjoyed the opportunity to kick back and relax on the farm and enjoy life in the slow lane. One mother and daughter visited the farm for a week and left only to replenish their food supplies. (Each room had a small fridge and there was a grill and microwave for guests’ use).
Weatherbury Farm is the setting of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd. We chose the name to emphasize that the farm, while only 45 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Pittsburgh, is a place apart, where life passes at a different pace, slower, somehow richer.
Bedroom in Carriage House Suite
Living Room in Stables Suite
Over the years Weatherbury Farm Vacation garnered much attention from the press. The articles are available in our Media Accolades section. Some of our favorites were:
“Simplify …. You’ll learn how to live with less on Weatherbury Farm, where visitors spend their days helping Farmer Dale (his actual name) feed sheep and goats and collect eggs for breakfast.”
Everyday with Rachel Ray Magazine, December/January 2008
“…a destination where families can spend a week or a weekend experiencing hands-on farm life.”
Pennsylvania Magazine, March/April 1999
“The notion that living on a farm could be a vacation is not new, but it’s a concept whose time has arrived. Have children ever been less aware of rural life?”
The Baltimore Sun, May 19, 2002
” The perfect place to stay”
International Living Magazine, Oct 1993
“No matter how much things change at Weatherbury, they will still remain the same. Friendly hosts, cozy accommodations, great food – plus cows, goats, ducks, chickens and sheep who are just waiting for ‘city folk’ to bring them their food”
Greater Pittsburgh Region Metroguide, 2003 edition
“One of the Most Fun Weekend Getaways with Kids in PA!”
FunPennsylvania.com, December 4, 2011
” You won’t find anything as close to your grandparents’ farm.”
Weekend Magazine, September 2006
” The Weatherbury Farm, 45 minutes southwest of Pittsburgh, raises grass-fed cattle, but it specializes in children”
Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, May 2011
“One short trip to Washington County’s Weatherbury Farm in Independence is an instant lesson in the connection between the bounty of the table and the bounty of the land. ”
The Post Gazette, August 1, 2004
“This farm in the charming southwestern Pennsylvania hills is all about getting kids dirty — in a happy, good way.”
Parenting Magazine ,April 2010
“Looking for a family-friendly alternative to hoity-toity bed and breakfasts? Weatherbury Farm in Avella, Pa., holds the barn door wide open for little ones.”
Kiplinger.com, April 27, 2007