I was born in Berlin and raised in cities in Wisconsin, and I’ve lived in Los Angeles… so I’ve been in the middle of a big city, in my whole life… so, although I consider myslf an organic foods shopper (in the city), and camper (when able), I am generally surrounded by noisy city traffic, an office-work-setting, cell phones ringing, and the like… what I was about to experience was a moment back in time, where a family survives self-efficiently off of their own garden, and self-created electricity… a time almost forgotten, where no pesticides are used on the food, where education and family intermingle, and where life runs according to the sun rise and set.
When I arrived to the farm, Inn Serendipity , after a 3-hour drive, at 4PM, I was exhausted. I’d been fighting a cold for the last 2 weeks and still felt under-the –weather. And, although I knew to expect a special on-location seminar finishing up around the time of my arrival, I didn’t actually know just yet what to expect from the farm… wasn’t sure where to go, where the owners were, if they had staff or not, where my room was… and felt initially overwhelmed. My boyfriend had caravanned with me there, but left as soon as he dropped me off, to drive an hour backwards to a friend’s house. He would stay there the night. I’d stay on the farm for a night.
I walked into the farm house, not knowing if I was supposed to ring first or not, but many people walked in and out… and I was too tired to stop someone else outside… most either wore long beards, or wore glasses carrying notebooks and briefcases… all ages… most looked friendly, but I felt the odd-ball, the youngest, and alone. I stood there in the dining room until someone noticed me. One o f the owners, Lisa Kirivirst, was the one who approached me and explained that she could show me to my room but was finishing the seminar on Eco-Living, and could help give me a tour shortly after and that I was welcome to stop for coffee next door but I didn’t know what that really meant. I was shown to my “Music Room,” comfortable, small, with a closed-patio, upstairs, a full-sized bed, and just the necessities, decorated with musical instruments. I looked forward to the solace and silence I imagined to follow. But, as I stood there with my baggage, I noticed instead about 50 – 100 Black Elder Beetles and Asian Ladybugs on my walls both in my room and inside my room’s patio—and the door stood wide open to welcome them… so, although I knew they couldn’t hurt me, and although I could hear my mother’s voice echoing, “what did you expect? It’s a farm! There will be bugs!” I just couldn’t rest.. so, instead, I began to walk. Lisa had mentioned that about 2 blocks from the farm existed a pathway that would eventually lead me from the farm into a woods… the sun was beginning to set, and I wasn’t sure of the path, so I walked… and walked… for an hour I walked and never found the woods… and I was so tired. And then I walked back towards the farm and found the path. I made the effort to find the forest, but kept quick on my feet to return before dark to the farm.
…and what about supper? The farm had a list of restaurants nearby, but the closest were in Monroe, and I was in Browntown without a map. I’d never find my way back in the dark on farm roads… and so I asked the other owner, John, if I could order out and have someone deliver. He wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure anymore either. I wondered if I’d go hungry that night. After all, this was a Bed & Breakfast (B&B). And at prior B&Bs you pay extra for ANYTHING they offer, and if this was a farm, well, “Really,” I thought, “What exactly would they offer?” They grow vegetables… maybe I could ask for a cucumber… At that point John was talking to who would be my neighbors that evening, a female couple, I assume who were Lesbian, although one of them mentioned she had a daughter, from out-of-town. They smiled a lot, were friendly, and always together. And John talked a lot… but I was so exhausted, at 6PM it went through one ear and out the other. And then I remembered that Lisa had mentioned “coffee” and noticed a building behind John, and interrupted him to inquire if I could go inside. I felt a bit rude by doing so, but I specifically decided to B&B there for the simple fact that I wanted to “get away from people and noise and be surrounded by healthy food” and here I was… and he did let me enter that wooden barn… and inside… to my amazement, were baskets and trays of ½-eaten goodies!!! They were homemade, labeled, all-organic, from apple crisp to pumpkin-spice-chocolate muffins!!! OH! I WAS SAVED!! Hallelujah!!! I was soon offered some homemade lemon-balm tea that was extraordinary too!
By 6:30PM all of the visitors that had been there for the seminar had left. John showed me around the farm, and introduced me to their solar oven, their electric car, their solar-powered-electric-everything… I felt like I was in such a foreign place but I was indeed “wow’d” by all this… and to learn that they make enough energy on the farm to sell electricity back to the electric company! They home-school their 3rd grade son, they run a 2-room B&B on weekends, the run their organic farm, Lisa is an amazing cook, was on her feet all night in fact, they both write, and both of them are published, John delivers seminars… all very interesting! And they are self-sufficient 100%… amazed me… John and I proceeded to have a long talk in the living room inside… meanwhile Lisa brought out her first goodies since I’d eaten the muffin… unexpected, and free during my stay, were now these cucumbers, sliced, marinated in honey and fresh basil, all organic of course, stuffed with cheeses… by now I was full! But WHAT A TREAT!!
After an interesting conversation, John left to begin a bon fire. I didn’t even know it was on the agenda… I expected to be in my room drawing, writing, or even sleeping, and instead found myself engaged with Lisa, John, and their son Liam… in fact, they are all Star Wars fans too, so they really liked my license plate, and we had yet something ELSE to talk about!! …and I was getting my 2nd wind.
Soon, I was off to the bon fire… John had set out multiple chairs to choose from to sit at. He threw old barn doors on the flames, old tree branches, and I just stared—into the fire… my first fire of the year and it was already October!!! “Wow! What happened to me this year” I thought that I hadn’t even been camping yet even once to make a fire!!?? Soon the other couple came out too… and before long Lisa came out, Liam came out, and they had small homemade pizzas to offer. They buy their cheeses and dairy 2x/year from Organic Valley about 2 hours away, and put $300-worth of purchases into their freezers. How wonderful! Granted, I don’t eat a lot of cheese, but if I had dairy, it was going to be organic. So, this was fabulous. And they don’t eat meat, so there was no need for other grocery shopping.
I did from time-to-time still feel somewhat inferior in conversation, in fact, even sometimes a bit detatched… there were times I felt that the other couple staying at the farm paid more notice that I was around, but everyone’s different, and I was mostly just in awe the whole time that the owners were in fact interacting willingly as much with all of us as they were! Again, to compare, other B&Bs frequently show you to your room, and then leave you alone until breakfast. This place was the opposite—a complete “family affair” and even Liam joined in conversations. Soon Lisa offered to bring us out each some of her new pear or cherry cordials she’d made. Apparently her mother-in-law or mother has a cherry tree, and so… sure enough, I had some and it was DELICIOUS!!! By this time, I knew I was not only going to have to buy some of their produce from the farm and take it home the next day (which was offered to guests) but also buy Lisa’s cookbook. Furthermore, the solar oven I’d prior mentioned, had made spinach balls earlier in the day for seminar guests. I was amazed with the idea and John mentioned it to Lisa, and before long there was a knock at my door upstairs while I changed into some different pants for the bon fire… who was it? Lisa, with a new plate-full of spinach balls JUST FOR ME!!! Oh!!! Let me tell you… I was STUFFED like a pig, but a healthy pig was I!!! And, by then I’d noticed someone had been in my room to turn on a lamp, for it wasn’t me. And next to my night table stood another homemade cordial with a single homemade white chocolate truffle. How sweet it was… and again, it was a surprise. I can’t help but mention then, that at other B&Bs if they offer something such as a chocolate, not only do they mention that they offer it ahead-of-time (wherefore, no surprises) but they also charge extra for it. But, at Inn Serendipity, NO SUCH THING… all surprises, all fresh and organic, all homemade, and NO extra charge.
I excused myself from the bon fire before 10PM and headed to my room. My bathroom was across the hall. A small shower, even smaller toilet, and small sink waited for me. In the shower was homemade soap—and it smelled of sweet peppermint… by the time I got out of the shower the whole floor smelled like peppermint—it was INTOXICATINGLY WONDERFUL!!!
Exhausted, I figured the bugs wouldn’t bother me so much… I turned out the lights… –but since some of the Black Elder Beetles had also fallen onto my sheets, granted they came from the outside and wouldn’t hurt me, I still had a hard time sleeping for it… so I woke in the night on the hour. (*NOTE: Chances are, most weeks and months this is not the case and I just happened to be there when the bugs were at worst)… And breakfast was to be served at 8:30AM… so, although I technically had 8 hours of rest, I woke constantly… and felt very tired the next morning…
I have to admit, I had a few early “Superman” moments where I flashbacked to the movies of when he grew up on a farm… after all, that’s where I saw it all: on TV… until now. Otherwise I’d only ever been to a single other B&B on a farm, and the experience wasn’t nearly as intimate.
I never got to writing or reading or even drawing… heck, I didn’t even get around to sitting on my patio like I thought I would… but, I did get a wealth of information, a lot of great new foods to try, and a very awesome new experience. And anyone who knows me, knows that come hell or high water, nothing will stop me for adventure.
Breakfast was served. Lisa and John were both wearing aprons and helping serve. I had coffee, homemade grape juice, potato-onion pancakes, applesauce, & a hot tomato-crouton side, an dyes, I had another pumpkin-spice-chocolate muffin. The 3 of us guests sat on the downstairs porch together at a small table with candles lit, and were served. It was very intimate. At first I felt slightly uncomfortable because I did not know this other couple well, and I had no one else to sit with to defer my attention, but luckily they were a nice pair and soon I excused myself once again… and took another walk. This time I walked down that path aforementioned, into the woods, and back. When I returned I gathered my produce, picked up my book, paid for my night, and asked if I could sit outside until my boyfriend returned to caravan with me again home. They were very obliging although check-out was 11AM. The other couple stayed until past Noon in fact, and I left at 11:15. None of us were charged extra. They did ask for cash. Luckily everyone in September had sent small donations for my birthday, to be used specifically for this cause/retreat. And, this is what I used. I bought Lisa’s cookbook, my night’s stay, a huge carton of freshly picked organic spinach from their garden, 6 potatoes, 1 onion and 4 heads of garlic… in fact, I think I ordered 2, but got 4. And, just before I headed out the door, as I was thanking them for their hospitality, Lisa asked if I’d like to try their homemade frozen yogurt they’d just made… so I got to try that too! Creamy goodness! What a note to leave on!
Would I go again? Absolutely. Who then would I recommend this for? I recommend Inn Serendipity for anyone who is:
-single, and wants a get-away from the city
-couples who are mutually interested in learning about how a family survives self-efficiently on a farm
-those interested in organic foods, who enjoy a family environment
-anyone who doesn’t expect a spa or to hang out at a bar all night, but enjoys starlight and crickets chirping at night and maybe an organic cordial before bedtime as a treat instead
-anyone moderately sociable who prefers a more intimate setting of small groups
-anyone who prefers not to worry about a front-desk, can carry their own bags and isn’t worried about walking alone outside in a rural community or worried about harmless bugs
-anyone interested to taste an amazing array of organic homemade foods in a ma-n-pa setting
*Note: Here’s a Link to Lisa’s Award-winning Baking/Cooking
And here’s info on John’s Eco-Car