Hey hey! We are well into summer and I’ve had a little hiatus from this site. Honestly I thought summer would be a time of relaxation but it’s been busier than ever. Last month we visited a horse farm and we had the best time. I wanted to share our experience if you’d like to see!
I found the farm on www.farmstayus.com, a site housing farm stay experiences and guest ranches. We wanted to be close to the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, but we also wanted to have access to restaurants and entertainment in case we wanted to escape the work life of the farm.
We made the drive from Memphis to our first stop Knoxville, a city we’ve never visited, so we stayed one night to explore the town. One of the benefits of the Knoxville visit was stopping at their Trader Joe’s for groceries- we don’t have one yet in Memphis and we are extremely jealous. We hit a few spots near the downtown area including the playground and observatory tower where we caught a panorama view of the city and lots of rocks to climb on.
We also got in a good family workout in the hotel gym!
How amazing is this milkshake? The kids were pretty stoked about it and then, after lunch, they got to run through one of the fountains before we made our way to the horse farm right outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The farm is a working farm with a breathtaking view of the Smoky Mountains.
We grabbed the keys to our cabin, set down our luggage (After getting some goats out of our truck! They had made their way into the vehicle upon seeing open doors while we unloaded luggage). We met the owner at her truck for some post afternoon work.
We loaded into her pick-up truck with supplies that included horse food, vitamins pooper scoopers and manure bucket and started making the round to visit her four stable stops to get to work. This routine occurs twice a day, mornings at 6:00 am and afternoons at 5:30 pm. Guests are are encouraged to participate in farm chores but it’s not mandatory.
On our second day my husband and son were signed up for a half day ride so we headed out at 6 am for chores, similar to the ones we had completed the evening before. When we finished those, it was time to get the horses ready for the ride. This included brushing the horses, picking dirt out of their hooves, and saddling them up. Finally my son and husband took off with the owner and her helper, voicing out a few “yehaws” by our cabin so my daughter and I could wave them on for the start of their journey. This was my sons first ride and he absolutely loved it! My daughter even got a short ride in at the end of their session, just down the long driveway, and she was so happy to be included.
The next day we headed over to Gatlinburg where we hiked one of the short trails to Laurel Falls. We saw lots of bugs and insects and the people ahead of us saw a mamma bear and her cub. There’s so much to do in Gatlinburg but we really wanted to experience the Smoky Mountains in all of its beauty.
On day three at the farm my son wanted to ride again so I agreed to be his riding buddy. We left at 6 am to do our farm chores and headed out for our ride where we directed our horses under short tree limbs, over rocky stream paths, and around snakes! We played games around barrels and put leaves on the backs of our horses to see which horse could steadily keep their leaf on their backside.
After our ride we went into Gatlinburg again to check out an aquarium, ride the Ferris wheel, grab some pizza, and check out the local shops.
During our stay, I should mention that we also got lots of time with the other animals, including the donkeys, goats, a pig, bunnies, chickens, cats and of course, the horses. We were instructed to keep our dinner scraps and feed them to the animals after dinner.
At one point my daughter was feeding the mamma goat some of the goat pellets and the goat was being finicky, wouldn’t take the food from her hand, but would eat it out of mine. We gave the feeding another try, and to my surprise, that mamma goat head-butted my daughter right in her forehead. My daughter wasn’t hurt physically, but she loves animals and her feelings were extremely bruised. She became so angry that she blasted that goat with all the profanities a two-year-old can possibly have in their vocabulary and she vowed that she wouldn’t be feeding that goat her dinner leftovers for the rest of the trip! We laughed and laughed about her boldness standing up for herself against that goat.
Before we left, we grabbed some memory cards from the little store on property, which featured actual pictures of all the animals on the property. We also snagged a coloring book which doubled as instructions for safely dealing with horses. My kids are still looking at the memory card pictures of all their animal friends from our trip.
Overall, we had such a fun vacation. It rained every day that we were there, but the rain never dampened our plans. The weather seemed to lighten up at exactly the right times whenever we had plans outdoors. The trip was relatively inexpensive, a reasonable drive from home, and the accommodations were perfect. Our kids can’t wait to head back to visit again. My son did so well with his two-day horse riding lessons that we are considering enrolling him in lessons here at home.
Have you been vacationing this summer? How have you been relaxing this summer?