A breath of country air

Weirton Daily Times | September 18, 1999

As reported by Mike Naylor, in the Weirton Daily Times  September 18, 1999:

“It’s not your typical vacation getaway.
Nestled into the hills of western Pennsylvania is Weatherbury Farm, a 104-acre vacation mecca for boomers anxious to getaway from the hustle-and bustle of city life and get a taste of life on a working farm.
Located just outside Avella, it’s owned and operated by Marcy and Dale Tudor and their son, Nigel.
The Tudors got the idea back in 1980-81 when Dale was on a liaison assignment with Bayer AG in Leverkusen, Germany. Six weeks’ vacation is standard for German workers, and Dale took full advantage of it.
“Soon discovered pensiones and guest houses and loved the experience,” Marcy Tudor said. “We enjoyed the opportunity so much that we decided a bed and breakfast would be in our future.”
When they returned to the states, the Tudors vacationed at bed and breakfasts — all the while looking for an old house they could restore. They found their dream property in 1986 and named it ‘Weatherbury Farm,” a nod to the setting of Thomas Hardy’s novel, “Far from the Madding crowd.”
The Tudors said they chose it because the farm, while only 20 miles from the hustle and bustle  of Pittsburgh, is ‘a place apart, where life moves at a different pace.’
They’re raising Hereford cattle, a small herd of Scottish Highland cattle and a flock of registered Southdown sheep. They’ve also got a flock of bantam chickens for their guests to enjoy.
The farmhouse, set a mid a cluster of historic farm buildings, currently boasts four guest rooms with private baths, but the Tudors are in the process of transforming a barn into three suites and a guest room that will be handicapped accessible.
Marcy Tudor said they have several programs geared to teaching kids about farming and farm animals, but said it’s an experience that all ages enjoy.
This year, she said they’ve enjoyed about 75 percent occupancy since June. Unlike past years, when most of the farm’s guests were from the Ohio Valley, the ‘Power of the Internet’ had brought them visitors from all over the world.
“Everybody seems to enjoy their visit, it’s such an easy place to stop,’ she said. It’s location has made it a favorite of motorists making the Michigan to Washington D.C. trip, since it’s situated at the midway point.
And she said Weatherbury Farm as also been a home-away-from-home for visitors form Australia, England, Japan and other countries.
‘The best part about this business is meeting all the different people from all over the world and all the different states,’ Marcy said.
“It’s particularly special when people come back time after time and you actually watch the children grow up.’
Marcy said she and Dale want to give city dwellers a chance to experience life on the farm.
‘The farm has been very successful and I just think the whole atmosphere is wonderful,’ she said. ‘It’s reall9y fun and gives us something to do.’
Despite the long hours involved in having visitors in their home and taking care of the farm, Marcy said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
‘This is a family business, and although we are always working, at least we are doing it together.’ Marcy said.
Weatherbury is just one of about 25 farm vacations sites in the Commonwealth. Marcy, who heads the Pennsylvania Farm Vacations Association, said it’s not a new idea.
The PFVA, chartered in 1963 as an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, was intended to help Pennsylvania’s small family farms develop ad additional income source by bringing paying guests into their homes. Farm vacations not only allow many small family farms to remain economically viable, but it also helps to preserve the state’s rich farming heritage.
Weatherbury Farm received the Rural Sustainable Tourism Award from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania in 1995 and was one of six small businesses nationwide to win Microsoft/Home Office Computing’s Most Innovative Business Marketing Award for ‘entrepreneurial creativity and desktop marketing savvy.'”