I lived out one of the items on my bucket list this weekend – taking Sam for an overnight stay at an Amish farmhouse. For the most part, the trip was awesome. But of course, between a few bumps in the road (trying to sleep in bed with a rambunctious toddler) and my crazy overstimulated mind (Look at all this government-subsidized corn and soy! What happened to crop diversification!), it wasn’t entirely idealistic.
We stayed at one of the only family-friendly B&Bs with a vacancy, Green Acres Farm in Mount Joy, Pa. We didn’t have high expectations – we certainly didn’t expect nor need television or internet access for this trip. I love shabby chic, but this place wasn’t just rustic – it was creepy. The rooms were literally overflowing with dusty Victorian dolls, religious needlepoints, and creepy paintings of little children holding baskets of kittens (why that was particularly creepy we’ll get to later). Everything was extremely old to the point of dangerous disrepair – crumbling playhouses and swings, stained old mattresses, very precarious stairs and bunk beds. We’ve stayed at rural B&Bs across the country and it’s always been lovely – figures we’d bring our 2-year-old to a run-down dustbin.
That said, Sam had an awesome time feeding the animals (which I’m quite sure are not properly cared for, just occasionally tossed some leftover pancakes), collecting the eggs (which I’m pretty sure were hard-boiled as the owner replaced the same 22 eggs in the coop each day), and riding on a hay ride (speeding down the country roads on the back of an ancient John Deere tractor).
The owners are a grumpy elderly couple who liked to remind guests exactly how old and put out by us they are. They had firm rules and their own strict ideas about how children should behave – it was “policy” that the little children sit through breakfast until after dessert is served and they seemed genuinely peeved every time a child cried or whined. But the most alarming part was the dozens of clearly sick kittens wandering about the property. We actually saw a dead kitten walking up to the house. I’m not sure what the general practice is with farm cats, but it seems like these cats were treated the same way we treat the pigeons. Thrown occasional crumbs and certainly not taken to the vet for any kind of medical care or prevention. It’s a good thing I’m not a cat person or we might have driven home with our own basket of sick kittens.
We hit some cool tourist attractions like Strasburg Railroad and Millers Smorgasbord. We really wanted to go to a dinner with an Amish family, but it was a Sunday so that was out of the question. So we went to the family-style Plain & Fancy that boasts farm-to-table food. I’m not saying the produce didn’t come from their farms, but I’m not sure how they can crank out that much food for that many people without cutting some corners. But the thing that really freaked me out about Plain & Fancy was the restaurant shop. I can accept pushing souvenirs on tourists – I’ll buy up jams and shoefly pies and won’t even criticize a made-in-China magnet fashioned in the shape of a horse and buggy. But this place was out of control with CRAP. Literally, isles and isles of every cheap, junky toy you could imagine that had nothing to do with Amish country – shiny (lead) painted toy cars, squishy plastic monsters, and every license plate/keychain/flashlight you could find your name on. Why?
But despite what sounds like a bevy of complaints, I’m really just pointing out the flaws of an otherwise awesome trip. Because pointing out the bad and bizarre is really more fun than telling you how we did, in fact, make some very fun family memories. 🙂