A farm vacation for city slickers

Observer-Reporter | June 15 1993

As reported by Don Herschell  in the  Observer-Reporter, June 15, 1993:

” AVELLA – I arrived at Weatherbury Farm in a drizzle. It was 5p.m. Friday, the end of a long week and the gas tank was almost empty.
So was I.
From the outside, the farm looked like any other — 104 acres with a large hayfield, a couple of tractors, an old white farmhouse, a barn, a garage and a few other outbuildings. A ‘farm vacation’ sign hung at the end of the driveway, my only clue that this was a bed and breakfast.
The owners, Dale and Marcy Tudor, say they still have about five years of work to do outside the main house, including stripping the paint and repainting this summer, then adding a conservatory off the dining room. They also plan to restore a summer kitchen and put in two more guest rooms.
Private home bed and breakfasts often reflect the interests and personalities of the their owners. At Weatherbury Farm, that means you can learn a great deal about local history, world travel and gardening.
My stay began with a tour of the historic 130 year-old house, which the Tudors have painstakingly restored over the past seven years. With my first step inside, I could tell that the owners had put a lot of work into restoring the house and paid a great deal of attention to detail.
When the Tudors first bought the house, a woman told them she had spent seven years working on a bed and breakfast.
‘Dale and I said, ‘That’s not going to be us.’ We thought two years, and we’d be ready,’ said Mrs. Tudor, a self-employed accountant. ‘But there’s so much work. Here we are seven years later, just having finished the inside.’
The tour included the two guest rooms, the music room, living room, kitchen, dining room, and Mrs. Tudor’s office. Each room has wooden floors and is furnished with some old and antique furniture.
Decorated in light blue and while, almost every room has been rewired, and electric candles have been placed in each window.
Mrs. Tudor said it took her six weeks, working eight hours a day, just to strip the paint form the original fir living room floor.
6 p.m. — Dinnertime, and I was low on cash. Instead of resorting to a credit card, we drove jut a few miles to Wellsburg, W.Va. and used a cash machine. Then we went to the historic Drover’s Inn, where we ate a relaxing dinner and talked with owners Mark and Karen Cooper.
Afterward, we stopped at Brooke Hills Playhouse, where productions are held in a converted barn. We spike with managing director, Shari Harper, and then watched the troupe of community actors rehearse a scene from ‘My Fair Lady.’
The park, just a few miles from the B&B, also has a par three golf course and driving range, miniature golf, paddle boating, tennis and picnic areas.
In addition, Weatherbury Farm is less than a mile from Breezy Heights Gold Driving Range and about 1 1/2 miles from Meadowcroft Village.
9 p.m. — We returned to the farm and talked while the Tudors’ 12-year-old son, Nigel, pumped out ‘ The Blue Danube’ on the pedal-powered player piano in the music room.
We agreed on a wake-up time, and I went upstairs to my room.
The Tudors have traveled the United States and have been to numerous foreign countries, including England, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, Greece and the Greek Island of Mykonos.
One wall of the upstairs hallway is filled with framed drawings from the countries they’ve visited. They say that Europe’s bed and breakfasts inspired them to get one of their own.
10 p.m. — The hours spent in this room were the most relaxing part of the stay, Attention to detail was apparent.
I spent more than an hour scanning a few of the magazines in the rack by the bed — titles such as Country Living, Flower and Garden, National Geographic and European Travel & Life.
Atop the dresser were several books, mainly historical and spy novels and a collection of Louis l’Armour short stories. Books about farm life were on the nightstand and table.
Plants and old-fashioned framed family pictures had been placed around the room, and real flowers — lilacs, weigela and peony — were in an Atlas Mason jar. The attached bathroom was equipped with a pull-chair toilet, a shower and an old-fashioned pedestal vanity.
Two reading lamps were above the bed. Eight large pillows covered the bed and on the wall stenciled flowers matched the sheets, pillow cases, valences and nightstand tablecloth.
6 a.m. — I woke to the smell of flowers and the sound of rain pattering on the tin roof, a breeze through the trees and cows mooing in pasture nearby. It was already light outside so I showered, dressed and went downstairs.
7 a.m. — I slipped quietly out the front door, passed several cats on the front porch and walked around the back yard. There, Mrs. Tudor has herb and woodland and wildflower gardens as well as a garden filled with plants that hummingbirds enjoy. Her son has his own collection of exotic plants.
Passing through the gazebo door, I came into the pool area. The inground pool is larger that a regular family pool and ranges in depth from 3 to 8 feet. It’s surrounded by white, wooden chaise lounges
Weatherbury Farm was named for the setting of Thomas Hardy’s novel, ‘Far From the Madding Crowd.’ Sitting alone by the pool on a cool morning, I understood why.
As their two dogs barked, the Tudors’ herds of sheep and Hereford cows and calfs grazed nearby.
8 a.m. The Tudors call it their ‘bountiful breakfast’ and it’s more food than most city folks could handle. The buffet included strawberries and cream, apple-cinnamon pancakes, a vegetable-egg casserole, fruit, cereal, fresh coffee and orange juice.
Over breakfast, the Tudors talked about some of the guests who have stayed there over the past year: a woman from Cecil who spent Mother’s Day there with her two daughters and a daughter-in-law, business travelers who seek out B&Bs for ‘the personal touch’ and parents of students at Bethany and Washington and Jefferson colleges.
‘The reason that we named it Weatherbury Farm was we thought that people from Pittsburgh would be coming down here to get away from it all, but we didn’t have that at first,’ Mrs. Tudor said. ‘Now we’re getting more inquiries about that.’
9 a.m. At a farm vacation bed and breakfast — in contrast to a regular B&B — you can get a taste of real farm life, including farm work.
After breakfast we went outside to feed some of the Tudor’s animals. In addition to the cows, sheep, cats and dogs, the family has two bantam chickens, and two lop-eared rabbits that visitors can feed.
The second cutting of hay will be baled into squares later this summer, and guests who want to try it can help with some of the work, Tudor said. For insurance reasons, however, guests can’t do any heavy farm work. ”

This article also appeared in The Enterprise (Burgettstown, PA) on June 23, 1993.