Good Life

Leave it all behind | If country life calls, consider a farm stay

Dancing Bear Farm hosts people looking to get away from it all — to relax in the farmhouse.
Dancing Bear Farm hosts people looking to get away from it all — to relax in the farmhouse. Photos provided

Life on a farm is no picnic — it is, however, a perfectly suitable vacation destination.

Sure, there are fewer drinks with little umbrellas in them and there’s a good reason that goats don’t feature heavily in many resort brochures, but for the most part a retreat to the golden fields of Pennsylvania offers a rare commodity in today’s vacation market: Escape.

The concept of becoming truly unplugged, especially when many devices no longer even have plugs to pull, is daunting. A workplace has become wherever somebody happens to have a tablet or, at the very least, a smartphone.

“Americans are realizing that this electronic stuff has its glitz, but there’s stuff beyond that,” Bonnie Schubert of Hummerhaven Farmstead, said.

Schubert has run the Millers-town bed and breakfast alongside her husband, Gary, since 1998. Their two freestanding guesthouses have seen visitors from as far away as Germany and Saudi Arabia, standing the test of time without any cable or cell reception.

Guests are encouraged to bring old shoes, old clothes and fresh food that they can prepare for themselves in the kitchen or over a fire pit.

Disney World it is not.

Schubert said that for the first few years the farm was something of a novelty, a place for curious tourists to go and walk a mile in someone else’s muddy boots.

More recently, she’s hosted families looking to take a break from technology and spend some quality time together.

“We try to accommodate families so they don’t need to bring a lot to have a good time,” Schubert said.

Which is good, because chickens are notoriously difficult to get on an airplane. Instead, kids have the option of simply going into the Hummerhaven barn to search for freshly laid eggs and hold newborn chicks.

Families can also fish off of the two ponds on the property and learn how to make their own butter and ice cream.

If life on the farm is starting to sound tempting, imagine how it must have been for Therese Miller, who spent more than 30 years in the corporate world as a human resources executive before turning her property into a bed and breakfast.

Miller was considering selling her little corner of earth, a formerly working farm, but was having trouble giving it up.

“I couldn’t let it go and it wouldn’t let me go,” Miller said.

She describes Dancing Bear Farm as a little oasis, full of nooks and crannies where people can disappear by renting bikes or fading deep into a hammock.

Miller said the property has been visited for everything from a romantic couples’ weekend to a writers’ retreat, a quiet place to enjoy company and solitude without intrusion.

“People come to the country to get away from the city,” Miller said.

Dancing Bear Farm includes a studio space with a desk and a piano where people can go and work on projects quietly — which may not be an option during the farm’s July 18 music festival, featuring the State College band Raven and the Wren.

To learn more about more about bed and breakfast farms in Pennsylvania, visit pafarmstay.com.

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