“And on this farm they had some”……yes, a variety of critters, big and small, and yes, YOU will help care for them when you book your next vacation at Flip Flop Ranch in Southern California’s Lucerne Valley. Nestled in the high desert, surrounded by mountains, Flip Flop is owned and operated by a wonderful, welcoming family who recently decided to invite guests onto their 40-acre farm. It’s only been a year that they’ve shared their quarters with outsiders, and it’s still in the process of evolution.
Lisa Harvey and her daughters Serina and Tashelle and Tashelle’s husband Thomas run the place with the help of “WWOOFERS” (participants in the organization: worldwide opportunities on organic farms)…young people from around the world who spend weeks at a time helping with the chores in exchange for room and board. And with your help should you decide to venture into this less than luxurious vacation.
The rooms are pretty basic, although Tashelle plans on livening them up soon with her brilliantly hand painted murals; there are shared bathrooms with only soap and towels provided; no sleeping in past 8 when the animals let you know it’s time to be fed and the goats need milking. On the plus side you’ll be greeted with a full breakfast after morning chores and a hearty dinner after evening chores. Lunch, you ask? Probably won’t be hungry….
Flip Flop Ranch is striving for complete sustainability, and they’re well known for breeding nearly extinct species of farm animals. They boast the largest flock of Cotton Patch Geese (27), which were used in the 1800’s to weed cotton in the South. They also raise Dorking Chickens from England, which took three years to acquire, Ancona Ducks which lay 250 eggs a year, Bourbon Red Turkeys, Baby Doll Sheep, Guinea Hogs and Nigerian Dwarf Goats.
The milk and eggs you gather each morning will be on the table that day, and if you haven’t had fresh dairy right from the farm, you haven’t had the real thing!
Either Tashelle or Serina will teach you the art of making bread, ice cream (hand cranked), goat cheese, fresh chicken (if you dare) and soap. Everyone has to at least try to milk the goats. If you succeed on filling up a bucket, you’ll be rewarded with a certificate. I have to admit I didn’t make it. Midnight kicked over the bucket! And no, I didn’t cry over it, though I was tempted.
Goat milking is free since it’s a daily chore, but other classes do require an extra fee. For instance if you want to learn cheese making it’s $25 a couple, while butchering a chicken will cost you $50 (I, of course, wouldn’t even do it if they paid ME….but as my son said, if you’re willing to eat it…well….)
One of my favorite tasks was checking the incubators for newly hatched chicks and goslings and helping them transition to life outside the shell. I also loved the “cat house” where the moms, dads and kittens frolic in the hay and enjoy interacting with the humans who venture into their habitat. We nearly kidnapped a pair of calico kitties with whom we fell madly in love, but they were also the Harvey’s faves. Alas!
In the evenings there’s pool, air hockey, darts or chess on a board handcrafted by Tashelle. Although there are no TVs in the bedrooms, there’s a large flat screen in the game room or you can do what we did, sit and talk to this wonderful family for hours, hearing ghost tales and stories about the history and fascinating folks of Lucerne Valley.
There’s a beautiful pool nestled in large boulders with an attached spa. The pool isn't heated, but with summer temps climbing to 100 and above, you probably will relish the cool water. There’s also a dry sauna off to one side of the game room. Coming soon: a gift shop, produce from their garden and home made wine. They let us sample their first vintage of Merlot....wow! For a first venture, I'm excited to taste what's next.
Rates for a room for two including breakfast and dinner are $150 per night….$50 for each additional person. It may seem strange to pay for working your “you-know-what” off on your vacation, but, truthfully, our family never had a better time!
FLIP FLOP RANCH
9522 Donaldson Road
Lucerne Valley, CA 92356