Our stay at Miracle Farm was last minute, impromptu, the result of a wild hair. The real miracle is that they had the very cabin I wanted to stay in available for the night. This is not a busy time of year in the small mountain towns of Virginia but by Sunday morning it was obvious that Miracle Farm had a full house.
Miracle Farm advertises themselves as an ‘ecotourism’ must-stay and they are a ‘certified green facility’, though I’m not sure what that means. It is obvious that the owners, Ed and Karen, are trying to do something good at Miracle Farm by recycling some of the gray water, rescuing domestic animals, offering sanctuary to the local wildlife and composting and recycling. They seem to be willing to put forth the extra effort required to make their farm a little cleaner and a little less of a burden on our planet’s resources.
The bright spots for us were these:
The cabin was clean, not perfect, but clean. The sheets were soft and smelled wonderful and the bed was very comfortably soft. Mark and I like a soft bed. We slept well despite noisy neighbors–raccoons or people, we were too groggy to care.
The view from the living area was soothing and picturesque. There are pillows and a cushion the window seat and it’s a nice spot to simply sit and look. A place to be quiet and feel quiet.
There was a stack of blankets and towels for the dogs. One blanket for each of them, in case they jump on furniture (they don’t) and towels to dry off their muddy little paws after a walk. Miracle Farm does have stringent rules for pet owners but they are not difficult to abide by, are completely reasonable and I believe it is another miracle that they continue to accept pets after years of bad experiences with pet owners. It is obvious that their pet rules have grown organically from their experiences with hosting pets and their owners over the years.
The artwork was nice. The walls are covered with a variety of funky, hand done stuff and many of the windows have hand made paper shades over them. The dishes in the kitchen are Italian ceramic, a personal favorite of mine and they lent an air of luxury to the little plywood shack. The furnishings were eclectic, cute and fit the space.
The kitchen is tiny and a study in contrasts. There are horrible cheap shelves and a plastic paper towel holder but the kitchen is well furnished, the Italian ceramic tableware beautiful and the view from the kitchen sink and gas cook stove is magnificent. I was a bit sad, actually, that I didn’t have the opportunity to cook a meal there.
Ed, the only owner we had any face-to-face interaction with, was lovely. He was warm, friendly, helpful and professional. When he came to do our pre-departure inspection to be sure our dogs hadn’t hurt anything he was sweetly awkward about it. We really didn’t mind, though, because we understand that not all dogs are as calm and well-behaved as ours. =P
There are 3 buckets under the kitchen sink: 1 for compost; 1 for sawdust with which to cover the compostables in the bucket; 1 for recycling glass, plastic and aluminum.
Breakfast is delivered between 8:30 and 9:00 am to the cabins. We got up early and were starved by the time Ed knocked and handed me a picnic hamper filled with steaming hot food. There was grape juice, apparently from concentrate; a cake-like breakfast food filled with blueberries, nuts and a layer of cream cheese; fresh fruit; sausage substitute. The food was good but I really would have appreciated a bit more protein and fewer grain-based items. We had to stop in Floyd on our way out for more food. We ate the B&B breakfast but it didn’t fill us up! The delivery and serving style is fantastic, though. The service was timely, nicely cooked and served in glass, reusable containers. Charming!
The down sides:
When I called to make reservations, Karen, who took them had no idea whether they needed an address to bill our credit card or not.
When I went online to read the directions to the farm, I realized we were on one the roads in the directions but because the directions online did not offer cardinal direction, only L or R direction, I called to be sure we needed to drive through Floyd to get there from Ferrum. Karen was most unprofessional and despite my telling her repeatedly that we were on Route 221/Floyd Highway about 5 miles from Floyd and coming from Ferrum, she kept asking if we were on the Blue Ridge Parkway and where 58 was in relation to us. I had no idea and she ended up shrieking at me, while I remained quite calm, “How in the hell am I supposed to tell you how to tell you to get here when you don’t even know where you are?” I repeated that we were on Route 221, between Ferrum and Floyd and were then coming into Floyd. She gave the phone to Ed, I explained yet again and he told us to drive through Floyd. I was a very short way from asking them to refund our payment and just heading home right then. This was a severe broach of professionalism on the part of Karen and for which Ed apologized to both Mark and I. We all have bad days but I have to say, the apology should have come from her.
They are stingy with the sugar. Mark and I like sugar in our coffee and lots of it. There was enough for 1 cup each or about 6 tsp in the container. There is a up side to this one: this was not refined white sugar but cane crystals. Yum.
The trash can is about the size of a 5 gallon bucket. I’m sure this is to discourage visitors from throwing recyclables into the trash but still? If you’re not going to offer to compost paper and cardboard, you must offer a larger trash receptacle.
The gray water recycling is for the shower only. This is a great idea in theory. In practice the pipe dumps out just above the creek, which means that much of what comes out of the shower runs down the steep hillside and into the creek. No matter how earth-friendly the toiletries they offer are, the creek is still being polluted. They do explain in their literature that they offer environmentally friendly toiletries in an effort to keep the creek clean. I think that it’s naive to think that guests are going to use them instead of their own shampoo, shaving cream and soaps.
Inadequate turning space in parking area for a short bed pickup. Especially in the snowy dark. There is a spot where we could turn around but with other cars there, it was still quite difficult.
Tiny shower. I’m 5’9” and 170 lbs and that’s about all it can handle. Anyone much larger would touch the sides or the ceiling.
Lots of dust and lint in the bathroom, on the walls.
In all, our stay at Miracle Farm was nice. Ed was quite hospitable and the accommodations were good. The cabins are tiny little shotgun shacks, well outfitted and decorated on the inside…well, on the inside of the one we stayed in anyway. Breakfast is exactly what they advertise and was one of my favorite things about our stay, despite our residual hunger pangs. The land on which Miracle Farm is situated is run through and bordered by mountain streams and the sound of rushing water and the option of just looking at the water flowing over the rocks is one of my favorite things about the mountains, readily available at Miracle Farm.
We appreciate the willingness of the proprietors to put up with the quirks (and hair balls) involved with hosting pets. They do have an old goat pen, fenced off, where we were allowed to turn our dogs loose while we watched. In this way the dogs managed to burn off a few calories and get really wet in the snow. That was nice and it got us outside for a walk in spite of rain.
If you don’t mind rough accommodation with nothing much to do but be still, Miracle Farm may be a good choice for you. If you want posh rooms, lots of space, a pool, something for the kids to do besides get dirty, it’s probably best that you choose other accommodations. Miracle Farm was a good fit for us.
The altercation with Karen could have been handled better–or should not have happened at all–but in spite of that, we really enjoyed our stay and we will probably go back. It is good to know that there are people who are making a living while sharing their green space with the rest of us.