Pizza night. Hay Rides. Fun and frivolity in the Catskill Mountains.

I’d never been on a hay ride until last Saturday night. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but here is my confession for all to hear. I’m 57 and I’ve never been on a hay ride. But if I think about it a bit, I suspect that I’m in very good company; that many others, perhaps most of the world, are willing to be embarrassed and admit that they’ve never ridden on a bale of hay on a wagon being pulled by a big farm tractor.

But in thinking about it even more, I realize that I’ve had plenty of opportunities to go on hay rides before… just never took advantage of those opportunities. Perhaps that’s the deep rooted angst behind my embarrassment. A simple could’ve, should’ve, didn’t.

So I could have… I went to an agricultural college, I’ve lived in many country towns (I even lived in Texas!), and now I spend my time in the Catskill Mountains where pert near every town is rural. But the hay wagon and I never seemed to cross paths. Every year there are hay rides at the state fair, hay rides at the county fair, hay rides at the street fair… Let’s just say that there are a fair amount of hayrides that I could have gone on. And I’ve been to plenty of these fairs, seen my share of prize winning pigs, eaten some fried foods that tasted surprisingly good covered in dough and deep fried (think: pickles), but I’d never climbed the steps onto the hay wagon.

Until last Saturday night. With a belly full of amazing fresh baked pizza and rhubarb upside down cake with maple syrup infused whipped cream I felt daring enough to yell “save me a seat” when they called that the wagon was about to pull out. Perhaps I could have yelled “save me a bale” just to be punny. But, as punny as that is (c’mon you groaned, I know you did), saying it may have served to show my hayride naiveté and the locals’ noses would have gone up in the air and their eyes would have rolled equally as high into their foreheads.

But that’s not what would have actually happened had I tossed some humor of dubious quality into the crowd. There was no snooty attitude weighing down summer-like breezes last night. Everyone was in high spirits, friendly, and enjoying the evening. A pavilion full of mostly strangers, sharing an evening of great food, friendly hosts, and frivolity. No one mocked me for being a rookie hay rider.
It had never occurred to me that a hay ride would be a fun thing to do. I never thought it’d be my kind of fun (there’s the should have).

It turns out that the ride was great fun; perhaps because all the parts that I think would be participating in the perfect hay ride were there. Starting with my companion hay riders. Everyone on hay bales, or even on the floor of the wagon, was friendly; the type of people you say, “please call us next time you’re in town,” and you really mean it.

hay ride amazing view

hay ride mountain sky viewFirst thing to see were the views! We went uphill, and uphill a bit more. Mountain ranges beyond the pastures at every turn. The sky was the perfect shade of evening dark blue with occasional puffs of bright white clouds. If you didn’t believe in God before, you’d start seriously considering it after these awe filled, eye widening, heart stopping views.
Then, right there in the middle of a field was the little corral of goats. I happen to like goats and I’ve gotten close to a few (as in up-close close, not like personal relationship close!) and for some reason I just like them. So… I was elated to see the goats.

 

 

hay ride sallySally, our “driver,” was half of what made the ride great. She would stop the tractor at every view spot and regale us with her knowledge of farming, responsible land management, and some inside information that is fascinating to city-folk (and transplanted city folk!).

striped cows

 

That knowledge included the cows. Amazing, let’s go pet one, really nice looking cows. Medium sized, furry, black and white vertical striped cows. Not like zebra stripes, but one wide black stripe, then one wide white, then another black. Everyone calls them Oreo’s and I don’t think Nabisco would mind the trademark infringement because the cows are beautiful. Not an adjective that you might normally think of for cows. We usually think of a big nose full of drippy snot and an attitude of “really? You’re looking at me because??????”

But these cows were downright cute. And when Sally stopped here so we could take pictures and chat, the cows all came to the uphill side of the coral, looked wistfully at us, and had a look of curiosity about them. More like, “hey, whatcha doin?” and the hey/hay pun would be intended. Puns in the pasture. That’s how cool these cows are!

The barn cat (of course there’s a barn cat!), Patches, stayed with us for most of the ride, working the room as it were; asking for and getting plenty of ear scratching and generally entertaining all of us. She hopped off as we neared our return to the pavilion and the kids speculated that she ran after a mouse. Good cat! Just one more charming country stereotype to add to my experience.

Ours was the last ride of the evening and there were only a few slices of pizza left, the upside down cake was gone, the baking pan appeared to have been licked clean. People were meandering out with faces filled with smiles and tales of the evening.
I was a virgin, until last Saturday night. I’m 57 and I’d never been on a hay ride. This was my first time and it didn’t hurt. It was great. And I totally expect to do it again!

Pizza Night On The Farm at Lazy Crazy Acres
Saturday evenings from 5:00 – 8:00 from late May to early fall
Pizzas made with farm fresh ingredients and homemade sauce
Milk from a local dairy farm and amazing iced tea

Be sure to pick up some of their own “Tree Juice” maple syrup with its natural smoky essence. The bourbon-barrel aged and the vanilla infused are both amazing.

Learn about the farm, Karen and Jake (the farmer/hosts), the goats, the cows, all the barn cats, and the fantastic pizza on their facebook page

picture note: the picture of the cows is from the Lazy Crazy Acres website. Upon closer examination, you’ll note the sudden change from spring to fall foliage. We were having a little too much fun and our camera somehow took blurry shots. (hate it when that happens!)

Posted in Arkville, Catskill Country Photos, Country Life, Food, Margaretville, Pets in the Country, What's Happening in the Area | Leave a comment

I’m Not Dyslexic… it really is MarGREATville!!

Is the only thing you remember about Margaretville Hurricane Sandy and all the youtube videos about the flooding?  Many of us remember that media flurry. Even the governor was there.  But did anyone post anywhere that the town was up on its feet  about two days after the hay bales were rushing down the river that flowing over Main Street?  There’s no news in that, apparently.

But the town of Margaretville recovered very quickly from that devastating event. Stores reopened quickly and now it’s not only back to normal, it’s better than ever.

Thanks to the efforts of a now one year old community group, The Business Association of Margaretville, of which we are proud members, Main Street Margaretville is flourishing and active.

The most recent activity was the wonderfully fun Holiday on Main where we led the Elf Parade. Come by next year, don an elf hat and walk with us!

Coming up next is Sweets On Main, celebrating Valentine’s Day. Last year it was an amazing amount of fun and this year looks even better!

Look for more details as we learn of them and post!

Margreatville and

I’m Not Dyslexic… it really is MarGREATville!! are

copyright protected and TM

Jason Frome; Pine Hollow Lodging

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Belleayre Mountain opens for skiing tomorrow!!!

It’s official the winter ski season is now underway. Thanks to our snowmakers and the fantastic job they have done so far this season, providing us with as much coverage as possible despite Mother Nature’s insistence on keeping the temps up, Belleayre will kick off opening day of the 2015-2016 skiing and riding season on Friday, December 4th, 2015!

The mountain will be open Friday, Saturday & Sunday, December 4, 5 & 6th. We will close Monday the 7th through Wednesday the 9th and projected to reopen Thursday the 10th through the weekend. Snow conditions will be reevaluated as needed thereafter.

The mountain will be open with intermediate and expert terrain only:  there will be NO beginner terrain available this weekend.   We will be on early season rates with $42 tickets midweek and $48 tickets on weekends. Please note that the Discovery Lodge will be open for rentals only.
Snowmaking will resume as weather and conditions permit. The snowmaking team will take full advantage of any opportunities to make snow with our newly zoned, highly efficient snowmaking systems.

Posted in Belleayre Mountain, Highmount / Belleayre Mountain, Towns, What's Happening in the Area | Leave a comment

The Holidays Start in The Catskills!

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, for the Margaretville Holiday Parade. 11:00. starts at the high school and continues to the pavilion. Santa will be traveling a fire truck to his photo-op spot! Lots of Main Street events, sales, crafts, singing, tree lighting, and all around country charm!
There will be floats and we have extra elf hats so you can join us in the elf parade!

Posted in Andes, Arkville, Big Indian, Country Life, Flesichmanns, Highmount / Belleayre Mountain, Margaretville, Pine Hill, Roxburry, Shopping, What's Happening in the Area | Leave a comment

Amazing Autumn Catskills Colors Still Out There

Great year for fall color

This fall has been a great year for color and it’s lasting longer than it has in the past few years!

Columbus Day Weekend, traditionally the last (peak) fall weekend for leaf-peepers, is not proving to be the final hurrah!

This picture was taken just west of  Margaretville this afternoon. Plenty of reds and golds! A lot left to see!

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The mountain views in the Catskills keep getting better!

When I went to The Meadows, one of our Vacation Rental properties, I brought our dog Chase to run in the meadows (yes, thus the name).  I had to take a break from throwing the stick to soak in this amazing view and take a picture of it.

Chase didn’t seem to notice. All he cared about was run, get the stick, repeat. But he was happy.  After seeing these clouds in the big sky, so was I!

The meadows at their namesake, The Meadows.

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Pizza and Gelato. Fresh from, and right on, the farm.

Pizza and Gelato Saturdays! Fresh from, and right on, the farm!

Pizz and Gelat Saturdays!!!
Posted in Country Life, Food, Groceries, Margaretville, Restaurants, Shopping, What's Happening in the Area | Leave a comment

Luna Moths rule in the Catskills!

You’ll see the most wonderful things if you just happen to be in the right place at the right time.

I went to one of our Vacation Rental properties, Acron Ridge, late one afternoon and saw these two Luna Moths hanging out below the light.

Of course I had to get a closer look at these amazing creatures.

Yet another reason for us, like we need another reason, to live in the country.  About ten years ago, we went out to dinner one warm summer evening. We’d forgotten to close one of the windows, the one without a screen.  We came back to find the living room walls papered with a LOT of moths and a variety of other flying things. Not least of which was one, very big, Luna Moth.

That was our first Luna Moth sighting but not our last. But we still get excited when nature crosses our path to remind us just how cool, how beautiful, and how big it really is.

Yesterday’s big is today’s tiny.  Just this afternoon we saw a baby humming bird. So small, at first we thought it was a bee flitting around the flowers. It was smaller than my pinky fingernail, already very colorful, and very determined.

sorry, it was way too fast to get a picture of!

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Pizza and Gelato at Lazy Crazy Acres. A MUST DO country event!

We just had the most wonderful evening at Lazy Crazy Acres. This was such an amazing thing – the kind of thing that makes you think it could only happen in the country.  What we came to realize is that it is a must thing to do!

Let’s start with getting to the place. You will pass through the Drybook Valley. Miles of open land, the occasional log cabin, mountains in the distance, open sky, and you can’t help but notice that it’s still farm country out here. You’ll make a left at the white church that looks like it could be, or should be, or maybe it has been in a movie.  There is more and more incredible charm and beauty at every turn.

You turn into Lazy Crazy Acres parking lot and are drawn to the pavilion on the family farm. The family farm that’s been in the family for like four  generations. And you feel that  feeling of ease and comfort as soon as  you walk onto the property… like you’re an old family friend.  It’s the  feeling  you imagine life to really be in the country. Where you don’t just know your neighbors, you invite them to supper and they bring home made wine and blueberry pie for dessert ; you visit them with your famous vegetable soup when their ailing; you share stories with each other when you pass them on the road. It’s a feeling city folk strive for and when they find it up here they move here.

So today you walk onto the farm and you get that country folk feeling.  You feel like you belong there… like you’ve always belonged there, even though this is, in reality, the very first time you’ve been there. Everyone there seems to know that  you’ve never, in actuality, ever been there before.  But you know what… it doesn’t really matter. You’re an instant old friend of the family. I don’t know exactly what is about Jake and Karen, but they make everyone feel  at home.

You sit down at one of the picnic tables. You sit with strangers but they are also old friends of the family also and they quickly become your new old friends. The front of the pizza oven is open exposing the bright red embers in the back and the smell of something familiar and heartwarming wafts through the air as you look around and soak in the entire experience.

To add to the charm of everything (like the idea of eating fresh pizza outside on a real working farm isn’t just reeking with charm in and of itself) the big old family dog is roaming around.  You’ll go up to him to say hi because you’re a dog lover and, well, he’s a dog. But he’ll ignore you.  You’ll think he’s dissing you for the food you will likely drop on the floor but he’s actually friendly.  It’s just that he is quite old and may simply not see or hear you. You’ll realize this soon enough and instantly forgive him because, well, you’re a dog lover.  Then there’s the barn cat who is, in reality, very friendly. He’s also scavenging for dropped morsels, but he’s happy to make some time for  humans with a yen for scratching behind one’s ears.

Now that your settled in and feel at home let’s talk about food.  Brick oven pizza made with farm fresh ingredients cooked  in that new outdoor brick oven that, by the way, they built themselves!.  The combinations of ingredients are fantastic and the flavor combinations are surprising and utterly delicious. You realize right about now that the heartwarming aroma you couldn’t identify is a combination of warm pizza, fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, fresh mozzarella, bacon, garlic, and… sorry, that’s all I remember.  There were so many ingredients, so many aromas, so many sense memories triggered, so many new memories forming.

The gelato for dessert is as jaw-dropping delicious as the pizza.  Don’t actually drop your jaw, though. You won’t want any tiny bit to fall out of your mouth. Trust  me on that one.  And it’s all made from milk from their cows. This gelato is udderly delicious!

Let’s see, how can we top off this perfect country evening?  Oh, I don’t know… how about a hay ride???!!!!!  Is it a little corny? Maybe.   Is it cliché? Possibly.   But… is it perfect? Absolutely!

I leave you with a friendly neighborly reminder: plan a Saturday evening and go to Lazy Crazy Acres.  For more information about Pizza and Gelato Saturdays and to learn more about their farm visit their website, see them on facebook, email with questions.  Then say hi to us when you get there. We’ve fallen in love with the Fairbairn family, their pets, their cows, and their farm and we’re going to try our very damndest to get there as many Saturday evenings as we can!

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Eagles are a common sighting in the Catskills!

I spotted this Bald Eagle chilling out in a tree near the Pepacton Reservoir where it probably fishes with some regularity.  I was on my way to One Happy Cabin and just had to stop and stare. He didn’t seem to mind.

Sights like these are why we live in the Catskill Mountains!

Bald Eagle in the Catskill Mountains

Posted in Catskill Country Photos, Country Life, Margaretville, Pepaction Reservoir | Tagged , | Leave a comment