Lakeside Farm - Ye Olde Farmhouse Gift Shoppe, Open for 2015 Season

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
I'm interrupting my Fiber Tour series for this special announcement.....Lakeside Farm reopens tomorrow, April 30th!!!!!  I know you're all full of anticipation about this, whether it's because you're mouth is watering for the delicious breakfast and lunch they serve, perhaps it's because you've been suffering from withdrawal from their cider donuts, or maybe because you can't wait to get back into their newest venture, Ye Olde Farmhouse Gift Shoppe.  Maybe, like me, it's all of the above!  I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak today and since I just happened to have my camera, you get a little sneak peak too!
This photo was taken last summer.
If you happen to be unfamiliar, (although I can't imagine anyone who is), Lakeside Farms is located at 336 Schauber Road, Ballston Lake, NY. (Exit 11 of I-87)  Beginning as a cider mill back in 1948, over the years it has evolved into a very popular country store and restaurant serving breakfast and lunch daily from April-December.  Last year another evolution took place and Ye Olde Farmhouse Gift Shoppe opened in the family farmhouse on the north corner of the parking lot.  Whether you visit early in the morning for one of Lakeside's delicious breakfasts, later in the day for their mouth-watering sandwiches or soups, or on a fall weekend during apple season, you'll find Lakeside bustling with activity.  Today, one day before their spring re-opening, was the only day I can say I've seen it quiet!  Even then, one anxious visitor stopped in to shop unaware that tomorrow was the big day!  The purpose of today's post isn't to talk about the food at Lakeside...everyone knows about that....but to give you a glimpse of what awaits you when you visit the gift shoppe!  Ladies....pamper your spouses tonight because your wallet might be a little lighter tomorrow! we go!

One of my favorite rooms in the shop is the kitchen.  Full of unique but practical pieces, you'll find the perfect gift for the cook in your life.  

 Click on any photo to view in a larger format.
 New this year is Emerson Creek Pottery.  This sturdy pottery is handmade and hand painted in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It is dishwasher, oven and microwave safe, non-toxic, lead and cadmium free.
 Just around the corner in the fireplace room, you'll find a variety of treasures.
 For your wine-loving friends.....
 Or rooster lovers.......
 Or how about a handmade Mobius - Fashion with a twist, locally made beautiful fashion accessory. 
A new supply of spring colors will be arriving this week.

For the youngsters in your life......
From baby items, rain coats and rain boots, toys and'll love it all!

And on the porch.....something new this season is the "Life is Better at the Lake" room, full of unique and beautiful gifts for you or the lake lovers in your life.

For the fashionistas out about one of these versatile shawls?

 Or maybe a beautiful umbrella....

Thinking you don't have anything for the men in your life?  Think again!  What man wouldn't love anything in this room?

Or, maybe these might be a great way to warm him up after you walk in with your arms full of shopping bags..... keeping with one of the hottest trends today, miniatures Garden Treasure....not just for fairy gardens, but so much more!

 For the garden lovers out there, don't forget to stop in the apple barn for some beautiful and unusual garden accessories.  From bird baths to statues, from garden flags to watering cans, you'll find it all here.

This is just a tiny glimpse of what awaits you when you visit Ye Olde Farmhouse Gift Shoppe.  I couldn't show you everything!  You'll have to see for yourself.  Lakeside Farms Country Store and Restaurant is open seven days a week from 7:30-6:00pm from now until November when they close at 5:00p.m.   Ye Olde Farmhouse Gift Shoppe is open seven days a week from 9:00-6:00pm until November when they too will close at 5:00.  Plan a visit soon and allot plenty of time to have some breakfast or lunch, stock up on some of the freshest produce around and then browse around the gift shoppe.  I betcha can't go home empty handed!   To read more about Lakeside Farm and view pictures from their autumn displays, check out my November post:
Check out their website and facebook for more information.

Happy shopping and be sure to come back soon to Life As I See It when I'll be finishing up my Fiber Tour series with two more great farms.  Thanks for reading.  If you like what you see, please share with a friend!

Washington County Fiber Tour - Part II

Monday, April 27, 2015
Happy Monday!  Hope you all had a great weekend and I hope you enjoyed your cyber visit to Dancing Ewe Farm, our first stop on the 23rd Annual Washington County Fiber Tour.  If  you happened to miss that post, you can easily find it just before this one.  As promised I have more farms to share with you - two alpaca farms because by now, most of my regular readers know I have a thing for alpacas and llamas, and lastly but no less wonderful, I'll finish the series with the St. Mary's on-the-Hill Cashmere.

After leaving Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, we headed south to West Hebron to the Alpacas of Breezy Hill Ranch.   If you are not familiar with Washington County, you may not realize that it is very much a green county......agriculture is the number one industry in the county.  According to the 2003 census there were 880 farms in Washington county and there's no question that this is one of the prettiest areas in NYS.  Here's a little example of what you experience as you travel through the county.....
Just minutes from the Vermont border Breezy Hill Ranch is no exception!  Lisa & David Proulx purchased 91 acres in 2003, and in 2006 they left their full time jobs in Connecticut to build their new home and farm in West Hebron.  They began their venture with two pregnant female huacaya alpacas and one male huacaya.  Huacaya (pronounced wuh-kai-ya) alpacas are fluffy like teddy bears, Suri alpacas have longer, silkier fur.  I don't know if I've ever met a Suri alpaca before but I can vouch that huacaya's look and feel like big, fluffy teddy bears!  Since 2006 the Proulx farm has grown and is now the home to 20+ alpacas.
Each farm on the tour featured a variety of activities and although my focus is always on the animals, this is a FIBER tour, so the intended focus is the production, harvesting, and refining (cleaning, carding and spinning) of the fiber that the animals are ultimately raised for.  Don't let that fool you though - on every farm we've visited, it is obvious that these animals are loved and cared for like pets.  They are named, spoken to, and stroked. They are  housed in the finest of barns and are loved just as much as the family dogs and cats.  In order to begin the fiber process, the animals must first be sheared and at Breezy Hill we were lucky enough to witness this process.   Typically shearing takes place in May but a few animals were sheared this weekend so that lucky tour visitors could see the process.
While it doesn't look like a fun procedure for the alpaca, I will tell you that this was one very cooperative alpaca.  In fact, David & Lisa said they wished all their alpacas were this easy.  When all was said and done, this happy alpaca - Aphrodite, went from looking like a teddy bear to a skinny giraffe. Unlike the sheep shearing at Dancing Ewe Farms where the coat was removed in one in-tact piece, the alpaca fiber was removed in sections and separated by color and quality and put into bags

Not only did she look different to us, Lisa explained that it's not unusual for the other alpacas to not recognize a newly sheared member of the family. Once even a mama didn't recognize her own baby!
Once this cutie was all sheared and returned to the pasture, it was as if somebody new had come to visit.  Even her mom (the black one in the middle) was curious.  But it only took a few moments for the others to realize this was one of their own.  Here's a few of the other beautiful alpacas at Breezy Hill....

After watching the shearing process, David and Lisa's son-in-law brought us out into the pasture where we could feed some alpacas and visit up close.

John and my Mom feeding the alpacas.
Autumn having a little snack.
  Inside there were activities for the children, and the farm gift shop was full of beautiful clothing and accessories, yarn and roving and home decor items.  We even got to make a nesting basket to take home!  We were able to fill a cage which would normally hold a suet cake with alpaca fur, hay, string and yarn.  As soon as I hung mine out in the yard, the birds flocked to it!  It was comical to watch as they soon discovered it to be something other than suet.  I watched a chickadee take three consecutive mouthfuls, spitting each one out before finally realizing it wasn't food.  I'm sure once nesting begins, they'll be thrilled to have such lush padding for their babies.
Breezy Hill Ranch is open by appointment.  Check their facebook page and website for upcoming events.  They will be open on Saturday, May 30 for Criation Day.  You might get a glimpse of some crias (baby alpacas) that day. Thank you Lisa and David for opening your farm and sharing your family with everyone this weekend.  We had a great visit!  For more information on Breezy Hill, you can use the links provided to read more and follow their facebook page.  Thanks for the read and come back soon for two more  great farms on the tour!  Till next time.....this is Life As I See It saying bye for now.

Washington County Fiber Tour 2015 - Part I

Saturday, April 25, 2015
Spring.....a time for renewal, growth, and new life and where to better witness that but on a farm.  Today we had so much fun taking part in the 23rd Annual Washington County Fiber Tour.  This was our second year taking part.  Last year we visited 6 of the 16 venues, so this year we decided to visit some of the ones we missed last year.  There's a reason this is a two-day event - there's no way you can possible enjoy all 16 locations in one day!  That is partly because they are spread out all over the county and also because each farm has so much to offer.  If you weren't able to get there today, I just happened to take a few photos.....
We began our day at one of the furthest farms on the list - Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville, NY.

I'm sure when you think 'farm' you can't begin to imagine the extent of what this magical farm has to offer.  In fact....even after our visit, I wasn't aware of all it had to offer.  That's why I always research websites.  I strongly urge you to check this one out too because this is a farm like no other I've ever visited.  Dancing Ewe Farm specializes in the production of Tuscan style Pecorino, which is a raw sheep's milk cheese.  After sampling some, I can tell you, it is delicious!!  Their flock of 120 Fresian-cross ewes also produces fleece for outer garments.  Jody Somers, the man whose vision it was to make sheep's milk cheese, restored what was once a dairy farm from it's run down state to the beautiful farm it is today.  His wife Luisa, who Jody met while studying the making of sheep's milk cheese in Tuscany, came to the US to be an au pair.  Fate and a sheepdog brought them together (you really need to read their story) and together they have created not just a sheep farm, but a culinary wonderland where they produce olive oil, cured meats and cheese.  They also serve Saturday dinners, Sunday lunches and even a special dinner under the stars once each summer - with all meals prepared by Luisa and consisting of authentic Italian dishes.   Luisa is also beginning  hands-on cooking classes in May-October. 
Of course it takes more than two people to run an operation like this, and indeed there are some other special folk who have an important hand in keeping things running smoothly.
Spring means babies on a farm and there were definitely babies at Dancing Ewe Farm today.  Jody says they'll have around 100 babies but will only keep about 25.  If you think your little ones are noisy, you should have been in the barn with these cuties....

Jody, with little son Matteo's help, demonstrated a sheep shearing.  As soon as mama sheep was tipped onto her bottom, feet up, she calmly relaxed into the process, and just rolled with the shears!  When the job was done, a large blanket sized piece of fleece was handed off to the next guy in the process to be cleaned of unwanted material and then went on to be washed.  It was fascinating. 

Daddy's best helper - Matteo
Manicures are complimentary at this Beauty Salon!
And....this was a "fiber" tour ..... so appropriately there was some spinning going on in the big barn.
This was a wonderful stop on the tour.  I wish we could have hung around a little longer, but the list was long and the time was ticking by, so one last glance at these beauties and we were on our way.


At Dancing Ewe Farm, all your senses will be engaged.  From the wonderful hospitality, to the culinary delights to the m'aaaaaa of baby lambs, you'll be glad you visited.  Thank you Jody, Luisa and team for creating such a special setting, and for inviting us all to enjoy it.  I can't wait to come back.   If you're as intrigued as me, check it out using the link provided.  Stay tuned for the next post featuring some other great farms on the tour.
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