Harvest Hosts

Friday morning, we left Naples, Florida with the intention of driving to the state’s panhandle and staying at a Yogi Bear park in Madison. Along the way, we encountered heavy traffic, as the snowbirds moved north.  Spring breakers were headed south, resulting in miles of vehicles sitting still on I-75.

  

  A lot of those people on the other side had just driven straight through from Michigan.  That is not our idea of fun.

Along the way, Diana looked on the Harvest Hosts website to see if there were any farms or wineries in the area.  For those of you not familiar with this, Harvest Hosts is a U.S./Canada-wide network of wineries and farms who allow people to spend the night on their property in their RV’s.  In exchange, it is customary to support their business by purchasing their goods.  I selected our one year membership (normally $44) as a door prize at the RV-Dreams 2014 Fall Rally, and Diana selected our GoVino wine glasses for her prize, which brought about a few good laughs!  Anyway, Diana found Golden Acres Ranch, just about 1/2 hour past Madison in Monticello, Florida.  She called to see if they had room, and they did!  We pulled in just before dark and got set up for the night.

  

  

There was a big ol’ full moon rising above the live oak trees. The ranch was absolutely beautiful, and the sounds of the animals was a welcome change from the highway noise.  We were a good 10 miles off of I-10, so we didn’t hear any traffic.  What we did hear was guinea fowl, bullfrogs and Great Pyranees barking in the distance.  What a welcome change.  Before turning in, we purchased some farm fresh eggs, homemade Mayhaw jelly, a bar of locally made lavender soap, and a jar of Tupelo honey.  Even with all of the interesting sounds from the livestock and the frogs, we slept extremely well. 

Click here to listen to the sounds on Diana’s short YouTube video.  Enjoy the candles on our table.  🙂

In the morning, we ate some of the eggs we purchased, then we toured the ranch with Bobbie Golden.  She and her husband Fred started the ranch as an encore career, and have quite a lot on their plate!

 

Here is a photo of Bobbie with one of her Tennessee Fainting goats.  These goats stiffen when startled, which makes them appear to faint.  They make great pets!  This beauty has blue eyes.

  

They are adorable!

 

 

Here is Diana holding one of the baby goats.  That made her day!

 

 

They also have sheep on the ranch. We learned that sheep tails go down and goat tails stick up.

  

There were several guinea chickens running about, and they could really move!  Bobbie and Fred also have several Great Pyranees dogs to guard the livestock.

 

They are beautiful dogs, and remind us of our male Golden Retriever, Dakota, who passed in 2004.

 

These three were born last fall. And they loved Diana.  🙂 

 

 

What a great place to park for the night!  Be sure to check out their website to understand the uniqueness of the Mayhaw trees and pond, and to learn about the upcoming Mayhaw festival being held at the ranch in May.

Part of the Harvest Host experience is boondocking.  For those of you not familiar with this concept, boondocking is when you park without hookups…no water, sewer or electric.  Some RVers have generators to produce electricity and some have solar panels on their roofs.  RV’s have large fresh water holding tanks and sewer tanks. Depending on your set-up and how miserly you are dictates how long you can boondock.  We don’t have solar or a generator, so we are limited to how long we can stretch our house battery.  Many of our lights are 12 volt, along with two exhaust fans, and our water pump.  Our stove runs on propane, as does our water heater, furnace and refrigerator.  We lit candles in the evening and used battery powered lanterns, so our battery was still full when we left. Just in case, we unplugged the truck from the trailer, so as to not run down the truck batteries.

Once we left the ranch, we decided to take a different route, in order to avoid the interstate traffic.  We took a route that Diana’s dad used to rave about, and one we never had a chance to try.  We drove north from Monticello on US-19 to US-84 and west to US-231.  On 19 and 84, this is what the road looked like:

  

 

Wow.  Barely a car in sight, and four lane divided highway the entire way….all posted at 65 mph outside of the few towns we encountered.

We ended up for the night at one of our favorite stopover campgrounds on the Michigan/Florida route:  Deer Run RV Park just north of Troy, Alabama.

  

It is a beautiful setting, and the campsites are spacious.

  

 

We ended up with a very nice pull through site that allowed us to stay hooked up to the truck.

So, what started out being a hectic drive up I-75 ended up being one of the most relaxing experiences we have ever had.  Many thanks to Bobbie and Fred Golden, two of the most delightful people we have ever met.  And thanks to Don and Kim Greene of Harvest Hosts for donating the membership to RV-Dreams!  We will definitely be renewing it! 

24 thoughts on “Harvest Hosts”

  1. Barb and I have wondered about the Harvest Host program but have never signed up or stopped at one. It is good to see that you had a good time on such a nice farm.

    Safe travels up north!

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      1. Darn WordPress Gremlins. :).

        Yes, it was a good way to meet the locals. And my Ortonville, Michigan country girl was able to hold a baby goat again, which made it that much more special. 🙂

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  2. Those goats are adorable. What a nice place to park for the night. We love our Honda 2000 generator. It has allowed us to go off the grid for weeks. Hope your journey north continues to be free of traffic.

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      1. This generator is much quieter than most. Plus we stow it in the truck bed which muffles the sound even more. If we decide to do more desert boondocking, we’ll probably add a little solar but have to way out the pluses and minuses first. We won’t need solar for most of our travels in 2015 thus the decision is pushed off yet again.

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  3. Love the video Jim. Doncha just love night sounds? We sure do. And bird sounds!

    The US highways are so often the better choice than Interstate. When we leave here we’ll end up on Interstate from Beaumont TX to Ft Pickens but that will probably be about it until we end up in Interstate State Park at the end of August. We’ll run the Interstate down to MKE for our medical visits and month back home, but from there, who knows!

    Have heard about Harvest Hosts but never investigated. So this might be an interesting possibility. We can usually make 14+ days on our onboard water/tanks, sometimes a little longer. After being here for 5 months though we are probably out of practice with conservation. May have to put the screws to Peggy to get her to cut back a little.

    Sounds like a great trip, you two. Drive safe the rest of the way home.

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  4. What a pleasant post. I hadn’t heard about Harvest Host, but since we are not RV’ers that makes sense. But I love the idea of being able to camp on a farm or winery! I especially love farms:) The pictures speak for themselves, seems like you had a great time. Those goats are just adorable!

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      1. Yes, the people always makes the difference. If there however is animals there I am usually sold:)

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  5. Sounds like a great place to stay the night, those goats are very cool.
    What type of Work camping are you in for this summer? Robin and I took a MI trip two years ago and just loved the area. On the west coast just north of the “Tunnel of Trees” is a great restaurant (Leggs Inn) for the best Polish food we ever had.
    Enjoy.
    Mike

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  6. Diana & Jim

    Hi to you both.
    Bonnie and I love Harvest Hosts.
    Was happy you won a free membership back at the RV-Dream Fall Rally.
    We have used them about five times.
    Staying in winery’s.
    Also the Deer Run RV Park looks very nice.
    We may have to check it out on the way up to NC for RV-Dreams Reunion in May.
    Take care, will keep reading.
    Fred

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    1. We plan on using the membership around Michigan this summer, that’s for sure, Fred. I remember Linda ribbing us when Diana grabbed the glasses. :). We had talked to you just prior to winning, and we remember how much you liked your stays.

      Deer Run is a nice park. Request to stay back from US-231, if possible. There is a lot of road noise up there. We were on site 49, which was pretty good. Farther back would be better yet.

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