THE DEAL: HOME-NEST FARM, FAYETTE, MAINE
THE BACKSTORY: A few weeks ago, I went to sleep in utter silence in an 18th century house and woke up the next morning to find a place still so quiet that it was like experiencing a new sensation. That is, until a donkey named Ebenezer announced the morning with a primal roar and was joined by a rooster. The place was Home-Nest Farm, in the hamlet of Fayette, Maine, about 18 miles and two centuries west of the capital city of Augusta. The farmhouse that my wife, daughter and I were staying in dated from 1784 and has been in the Sturtevant family for eight generations. The 200 acre farm has views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Maine’s Longfellow Mountains. There’s a llama named Corcovado, who watches over nearly two dozen sheep. There are chickens, a horse, and the aforementioned Ebenezer. The house is surrounded by fields and banks of well-tended perennial gardens. My four-year old daughter loved feeding the sheep and the temperamental Corcovado. As you sit on the porch, listening to the wind in the maple trees and perusing a copy of "Josiah Volunteered," about an earlier Sturtevant who went off to the Civil War, it could be 1863. Talk about slowing down and smelling the lilacs.
THE ROOMS: Home-Nest consists of three historic homes and one new building. There’s the East Wing of the main farmhouse, which dates from 1784. It has one bedroom, a bath, a living room, a parlor, a fireplace, and a kitchen. Upstairs, where we slept, was Josiah’s Place, an apartment that consisted of two bedrooms and bath. The decor was antique-filled, but these were antiques that appeared to have been used by a previous generation of the family. There’s also The Red Schoolhouse (circa 1830), which has two bedrooms, a kitchen, bath, living room, gas fireplace and deck. Lilac Cottage (circa 1800) is across the road (SEE PHOTO, LEFT) and has three bedrooms, two baths, a living room, kitchen, a woodstove and a sun deck. There is also a Lakeview Annex, a modern home. Home-Nest is a member of the Maine Farm Vacation B&B Association and you prepare your own meals in your kitchen. In our case, our kitchen was the farm’s ancient "summer kitchen," a room at the end of a barn with a larder stocked with fresh fruit, muffins, eggs, juice, coffee, jams and jellies. It brought back memories of staying on my great uncle’s Maine farm decades ago.
MORE REASONS TO STAY: You probably won’t hear more than one or two cars go by once the sun sets. For anyone used to city noise, that is pleasantly unnerving and deeply relaxing. You might awaken to a rooster’s call, but then settle back into a deep, peaceful slumber. Later, on, you can walk outside in your bare feet through the grass and see the horses, donkey, sheep and llama. There are old maple trees, those views of the White Mountains, and breezes.
THE DEAL: There is a two-night minimum stay between July 1 and October 15. The East Wing of the Main House is $70/day for the 2nd floor Josiah’s Place, with its two bedrooms and bath, or $100/day for the main floor housekeeping suite or $120/day for both floors. Lilac Cottage is $120/day. The Red Schoolhouse is $120 day. The Lakeview Annex $120/day.
INSIDER TIP: There are loads of stone-walled lined dirt roads around here that are perfect for walking or mountain biking. Depending upon your timing, you can pick strawberries or blueberries, milk a cow, or visit the Norlands Living History Museum ten miles away. There is swimming at many area lakes and ponds, and hiking at Mount Blue State Park. Hallowell is a haven of antique shops close to Augusta. And if you’re craving a lobster roll along the coast, Rockland is about a 90 minute drive away. But sitting still, reading a book and looking up to see the clouds floating over the mountains may be the best option.
CAVEAT: If you need the 21st century at your fingertips, it’s not for you.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: About half an hour’s drive from Augusta, in the rolling farmland of central Maine.
THE DETAILS: Home-Nest Farm, 76 Baldwin Hill Road, Fayette, ME 04349; 207-897-4125;