One of our favorite memberships is Harvest Hosts. Through this group, you pay a minimal membership fee and have the opportunity to stay overnight at participating farms, wineries, and other attractions throughout the U.S. Golden Acres Ranch is not only our favorite Harvest Hosts location to date but quickly rose to the top of our list of favorite locations.
We have stayed at 2 previous Harvest Hosts locations have 2 more coming up in the next weeks, and generally, the process for requesting to stay is very informal. When I called Golden Acres Ranch, I spoke with Bobbie, one of the owners, who was incredibly nice. They are the only place that has had an online form to fill out, and quite frankly, it was so nice to have a record of our stay and directions for our arrival in my email.
When we arrived, we saw that there was another camper also on the property (these folks turned out to be super nice, and we loved chatting with them), and we waited in the designated place for Bobbie to come out and meet us. She whipped right up on her golf cart and gave us a quick rundown of the property. Because we travel with Daisy (and had been able to indicate this on the online form), Bobbie escorted us to a fenced-in area where we could let Daisy run off leash without any concerns (Daisy was confused and clearly had some concerns, but it was such peace of mind knowing both Daisy and Little Bird were contained in a safe space).
Miraculously, we pulled to a random spot in the pasture and Cate was perfectly level! If we were not already convinced we were meant to stay here, this was clearly a sign, because rarely do we get a spot that is just right without any maneuvering. While Will got everything set up, I let the girls run free. Daisy was hesitant and stayed pretty close to the rig, but Little Bird ran straight to the fence and proceeded around the majority of the perimeter just to get a feel for her new digs and to collect as many sticks, leaves, and feathers that she could carry. This child is so curious about the world around her and just loves to explore, and this was the perfect place to let her roam.
I want to say that Bird is the reason we decided to stay here, but the reasoning was more 50/50. 50% for Bird, 50% for me. Introducing Bird to animals and helping her understand how to interact with them is an incredible opportunity, but I really really wanted to play with the goats, too.
After getting settled and letting Bird and Daisy play for a while, we decided to wander over to see the goats. Bobbie had told us she would be around to give us a tour of the animals, and she happened to be in with them when we arrived.
Golden Acres raises myotonic goats, also known as fainting goats, though we learned they do not actually faint, instead their muscles tense up when they get startled and they sometimes fall over. We did not see any faint (thankfully Bird did not startle them too much), but we were lucky enough to visit exactly 1 month after the newest babies were born. And OH MY GOODNESS ,THEY ARE THE CUTEST THINGS YOU HAVE EVER SEEN!
Two of the babies needed to be bottle fed (one was born prematurely and weighed only 1 pound, while the other was a triplet and her mama just could not keep up with 3 hungry babies), so they are really fond of people and oh so sweet. These 2 followed us around as Bobbie told us all about the goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and guinea that they raise on the ranch. The whole time we were chatting, the goats and chickens wandered around us, coming over to investigate, nibble on a finger or hem of a shirt, and then wander off again. After showing us around, Bobbie left us to play with the goats as long as we wanted.
Bird was hesitant at first, not really knowing what she was seeing and why these little creatures were so interested in her, but she warmed up quickly and even attempted to pick up one (she was not successful, though of course she had to try after watching mama and dada hold them). When we made it through the little barn and into an open pasture where more goats were roaming, she was so excited to see them all and ran along beside a few who were on their way back to the barn (they were mostly trying to avoid her, but that did not phase her!).
After thoroughly enjoying ourselves playing with the goats, we made our way to the Country Store. Bobbie showed us around the store and made sure we (safely) tried some of their mayhaw jelly and satsuma orange juice…both of which were absolutely delicious. Mayhaw trees only grow in this specific climate, so they are not widely produced or sold. Golden Acres has a grove of these trees right on their property, and they harvest the berries every May (hence the name).
With Harvest Hosts, you get to stay on the host’s property for free, but you are encouraged to purchase something from them to show your appreciation—we have never had a problem stocking up on local and fresh products! We got some goat milk soap, mayhaw jelly, locally made sausage, and a dozen of the freshest eggs you could ever get (as in she had to call her granddaughter to go out to the coop to see if the chickens had laid any eggs, which were then collected, washed, and delivered to our camper).
You know we had breakfast for dinner!
While seeing the goats and sampling the local fare were amazing, the favorite part of our stay at the ranch was that it was just so relaxing. Sure we were there for less than 24 hours, but we left feeling like we had been on the best weekend getaway. We stood outside in the pitch black (and freezing temperatures) looking at the endless stars and woke up to frost on the pasture around us and another chance to play with the goats and Honey, the friendliest Great Pyrenees you will ever meet. As we pulled out of the pasture, we were already thinking about when we can go back.
Having the opportunity to stay at a place like Golden Acres Ranch where we can meet incredible people, support a local business, and have such an incredible experience for Bird (and us!) is why we will continue to seek out Harvest Hosts locations wherever possible on our journey. You cannot get this experience at a campground, and that is what makes it so incredible, so fun, and so memorable.
Be sure to check out the video from our visit and TONS of pictures below!