City living is lovely for so many reason, but every once in a while we all long to get out of town and have some space to run and stretch our legs. Camping, snow sports, and day hikes are all great options, but if you are craving something new consider a farm stay for your next weekend adventure. Farm stays have long been the European version of a country getaway, and in nature-loving cities like Seattle they are turning into the next big thing.
Hoehn Bend Farm in Sedro-Woolley is a farm stay location that is ready to fulfill all your farmer-in-training dreams. Our family took a trip to the third generation farm a few weeks ago and we all agreed it was the best local vacation we have ever taken. We worked hard, played hard, and returned to the city with giant smiles plastered to our city slicker faces.
Jean Eagleston and Terry Sapp are the actual farmers behind the working farm and I challenge you to find two more delightful people in the state of Washington. The Stanford grads had very different first careers: Jean was a psychologist in Palo Alto while Terry was an investment banker on Wall Street. Around 2008, they decided to end their long distance life, quit their jobs, and become farmers. Terry had plenty of experience on the farm as both he and his mother were born and raised in the Sedro-Woolley farmhouse. Jean was a novice farmer, but she was a quick study and her true love for all animals shines through.
When we arrived at the farm on Saturday morning we were greeted by Jean, Terry, and their farm dog Maggie. First, we toured the farm and met all the animals. Hoehn Bend has chickens, goats, Polly the pig, three donkeys, and a herd of cattle included in their menagerie. After the tour, we got settled in the fully equipped three bedroom farmhouse that guests get all to themselves. After the bags hit the floor, we were invited to get to work around the farm.
Our first task was to help change the dressing on the hoof of one of the donkeys. I'm not even joking when I say I now have a picture of my husband wrestling a donkey. That is one for the holiday card! Once that job was done the kids and I went on to feed all the animals their dinner while my husband accompanied Terry to a nearby field to help him attempt to move a bull back to Hoehn Bend. The bull convoy was unsuccessful, but my kids went to bed happy after carrying chickens and climbing ladders into pens to feed the goats.
The next day started with some fruit harvesting as we raided the apple and plum trees that grow next to the farmhouse. We moved on to feeding the animals their breakfast, but stopped midway through because Terry noticed one of the pregnant cows had gone into labor. We spend the next two hours sitting on a bale of hay outside a birthing pen, watching a little bull calf being born. Because, you know, that is how the average Seattleite spends their Sunday.
After watching the miracle of birth, we were given the keys to Terry's 65-year-old Jeep and set free on the property to take a hay ride. My husband was in heaven as he drove us around fields, past squash gardens, through a forest, and under grape arbors. We stopped along the way to collect squash, pumpkins, and four varieties of grapes. Our day ended with a second, successful, attempt to move Redford the bull from an adjoining farm and reunite him with his herd at Hoehn Bend.
We spent our final day at Hoehn Bend feeding animals, collecting eggs, and moving giant bales of hay with a tractor. As it came time to depart, we all started dragging our feet. The kids wanted to stay. The adults wanted to stay. As we said our goodbyes, we hugged (yes, hugged) Jean and Terry and knew that returning to Hoehn Bend isn't just a possibility for our family, it is a requirement.