Recently, Carla Peterson was enjoying hand-feeding treats to a group of cows. Izzy, a female Belted Galloway, was a little shy, but she finally came around to munching too.
At Twiddle Dee Farms off U.S. 421 south, the experience continues when the sun sets beyond the horizon.
“You get to see all the stars,” Peterson said. “In downtown Raleigh, you’re not going to get that wide expanse of stars. You’re not going to smell the honeysuckle while you sit outside and drink sweet tea. Those are the simple things that make you appreciate life.”
Inside the Belle Grace Guest House, women are able to escape the pressure of living in a busy city.
“I wanted to make sure that women who live and work in the cities have a chance to get away from all the demands put upon them,” Peterson said about the farm stay experience offered at Twiddle Dee.
Individually or in groups, visitors enjoy overnight lodging with a farm right outside. It’s one of more than 80 farms in North Carolina that offer such an experience.
“The farm itself serves as a backdrop for our visitor,” Peterson attested. “It provides an authentic, first-hand glimpse into what a real working sheep and cattle farm, farmed by a female farmer, incurs on a daily basis.”
Peterson recalled a time when a guest was around a sheep for the first time in her life. The experience became more memorable after a sheep gave birth. Guests are not asked to be hands-on, but they are welcome to do so. Others can easily walk around paths and watch animals such as the horse Megan.
“One of the benefits of arranging the farm this way is that you don’t have to have a lot of people to help you,” she said about rotating animals on the pasture.
The land also is home to apple and walnut trees as well as plants such as cow peas. For more than 100 years, the land has been owned by the family of her husband Chris. She married him after finishing up her sophomore year of school in Chapel Hill. When his mother started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, they moved back to the farm. While being away from Sampson County, Peterson said she missed the attributes of the rural area. Some of that included sunsets, walking across plowed fields and placing her feet in the dirt. After the return, Peterson became responsible for the farm. His grandparents’ old home place is used as a welcome center.
The home next door belonged to his parents and was later connected to the guest house, with three bedrooms and a bathroom for each. Reservations are made for women only.
“There are women who don’t have to all-out party to have a good time, who are nurtured by nature and simply being outdoors,” she said. “There are women who like personal time with a small group of friends or who enjoy exploring the small town and rural countryside.”
Peterson calls it a background adventure for independent women who appreciate small town charms and the farm landscape.
She enjoys making warm desserts for visitors. Inside the Belle Grace Guest House, products such shampoo, toothpaste and makeup remover are available for guests. Products made locally are also used during the stay.
“We try to introduce Sampson County to our visitors and the best way to do that is to buy things from Sampson County,” she pointed out.
With Twiddle Dee Farms and Belle Grace Guest House, Peterson believes it’s important to preserve small farms, which are disappearing.
“The farm stay offers a different level of intimacy and offers a chance to experience farm life as it used to be in North Carolina,” Peterson said. “It’s something we should cherish because it establishes the character of the state.”
Belle Grace Guest House is one of many options in Sampson County when it comes to overnight stays. Jackson Farm, in northern Sampson County, also offers a guest house. She also referenced Laurel Lake Campgrounds in Salemburg and Taste of Heaven Campground in Dunn, for nature-based experiences.
For more information, visit www.twiddledeefarm.com and click on the farm stay link. Information may also be accessed at www.ncfarmstay.com
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)