From Our Farm to Your Table

Hosting Strangers on the Farm Through AirBNB

Mon, 2018-05-14 09:35 -- Carole Soule
Princeton University Race team stays at the farm while competing at NH Motor Speedway

They came from Australia, Hawaii, South Korea and even Nashua to visit our cows and pigs.  We even had visitors from Vietnam; all places I have never been to except Nashua.  Most stayed a night, some longer and while here they visited with 'house pig' Tazzy, rode a cow and shared stories.  It all started in 2014 when we rented out our farmhouse apartment on AirBNB.

My travels stopped in 2012 when I left my job at Hewlett Packard (HP) to become a full-time farmer. While being paid by Hewlett Packard I could travel and pay the mortgage at the same time. After I left to farm full-time my income disappeared making travel out of the question. The funny thing about mortgages is that the bank gives you money and then they want you to pay them back! My husband Bruce and I decided that the best way to keep the bank happy was to rent out the apartment that is attached to the farmhouse.  After cleaning and re-painting, we listed the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with views of cattle out every window on AirBNB.  We had our first booking on Christmas 2014. 

Guests Feed the piggies

Ours is a Bed and 'Make Your Own Breakfast' where visitors can cook in the apartment kitchen. I didn't worry about providing a meal but I did worry about other things.  Should we put a lock on the door? Should we iron the sheets? Should we leave out fruit?  I was right about the lock but wrong about the sheets. Our first guests where from Chicago and suggested the lock.  They didn't seem to notice the ironed sheets.  Later I discovered that most new hosts were concerned about housing strangers.  That never occurred to me.

Since then we've had hundreds of guests; people who want to stay on a farm, or visit with house-pig Tazzy, or soak in the hot-tub.  Some people come with children who play with the indoor toy barnyard or ride the now-famous ‘Curious Bleu’, our super-tame six-year-old Scottish Highlander steer.  All visitors see the farm differently.  Families get to name calves born during their visit.  On one occasion, two calves were born during a family's stay. Some get to see piglets being born.  Some just like to walk the hills and look at the view. That each visitor brings a new perspective is healthy for a crusty, old farmer like me.

Mostly though, I like to learn about my visitors; where they are from, where they are going, why they picked my farm. Our visitors from South Korea were on a tour of the States.  The mother was a renowned Korean artist and did several watercolor drawings of the farm.  She left me two sketches which I treasure.  Another family shared stories of escaping from Vietnam after the war ended. The folks from Australia were farmers, so we shared farming 'war stories.'  I'll never forget the family from England: the wife worked on a small farm and promised to show me around her farm if I ever made it to the UK.

Korean Artist at the farm Artwork at the Farm

Sadly, I think my traveling days are over. The cows need daily feeding, the pigs are always squealing for food, and most pressing-the mortgage needs paying. Things aren't so bad, though.  As long as travelers keep making their way to the farm I feel like I'm on an adventure.  I do believe I'll get as far as Nashua again, but meanwhile I'll look forward to our next visitors from far away. Maybe someone from exotic Fiji will visit!  I've never met anyone from the South Pacific... I can only hope.

Four New Yorkers stay at the farm


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