Round rooms, Sweeping Views
Published: July 9, 2005
by STARLA POINTER of the News-Register
When Abbey Road Farm’s bed and breakfast opens next week, guests will stay in rounded rooms with sweeping views of the hills, vineyards and forests between Carlton and Lafayette.
During the day, they can help out in the sprawling garden; stroll through the cherry orchard and farmyard; watch goat cheese being produced; or talk to the animals – about 50 goats, plus sheep, donkeys, dogs, llamas, chickens and game birds. In the evening, they can gather around a firepit next to the silos in which they sleep. In the morning, they can dine on dishes made from produce, eggs and meat from the farm and Yamhill County food companies.
The new B&B is a centerpiece of John and Judi Stuart’s 82-acre spread, which occupies a hillside at the intersection of Abbey and Kuehne roads. It’s one a growing number of sites for “vocation vacations,” where guests can explore a different lifestyle.
A couple from New York has booked a week in August to experience farm life. Other bookings have come from Georgia, Arizona, Ohio – and various parts of Oregon. “I expect most of our guests will come for the wine country – that’s what first attracted us – but some will want to try helping on the farm,” John Stuart said. Either way, Stuart said, he and his wife will enjoy being the hosts. “We enjoy people,” he said. “This way, we don’t have to travel to meet them. They come to us.”
After many years in high-pressure Las Vegas, the Stuarts made a 180-degree change in their lifestyle by moving to Yamhill County two years ago. They arrived with well-laid plans for changing the former Cloepfil stables into a combination working farm and country retreat.
First came building up a goat herd, producing cheese, planting the extensive vegetable and herb garden, and getting the other animals settled. Installing the farm’s own water treatment plant and putting power underground came next. Then, with a new house nearly completed and general cleanup underway, the Stuarts turned their attention to creating their B&B.
Less than a year ago, two old grain silos stood empty between the barn and the cherry orchard. John Stuart envisioned bringing in a third silo and converting the trio into bedrooms and a conference center. Finding another galvanized metal Butler silo wasn’t easy, Stuart said. After a lengthy search, he finally located one on an old farm now owned by a church in Battleground, Wash. After making a donation to the church, he dismantled the silo and trucked it to Abbey Road Farms, where it was reassembled in January. Then came a series of challenges associated with converting round structures that had never been intended for human occupancy.
“I went looking for help and I called a manufacturer of grain bins to tell them what I was planning,” Stuart said. “They laughed.” It wasn’t the first time the company had heard from someone who wanted to convert a silo. “But most people come to their senses, they told me,” he said.
The Stuarts, however, pressed on. They cut out places for windows, built a second story in each silo, installed wiring and plumbing. And they added insulation, using an expanding spray-on foam. “We treated them like giant Thermoses,” Stuart said.
To connect the three silos, they built a foyer on the east side. “Our theme is contemporary in the country,” Stuart said, pointing the juxtaposition of items such as a blown-glass chandelier from Italy with the rough metal walls of the silos.
From the foyer, guests can enter a conference room wired for teleconferences, which the Stuarts expect to be popular for corporate retreats. Or they can walk across the radiant heated floor to suites named for breeds of goats: Nubian, Alpine, La Mancha, Saanen and Toggenberg.
Each room features a Jacuzzi tub, a king- or queen-size bed with a Temperpedic mattress dressed with 600 thread-count Eqyptian cotton sheets, and a high-quality stereo with a selection of CDs. Intentionally missing are TV sets and phones; intentionally present are large windows “This is built around what Judi and I like when we travel,” Stuart said. “Simplicity.”
To reach the three upstairs rooms, guests will climb stairs fashioned from black walnut and oak cut on the farm. “We tried to use as many things from right here as possible,” Stuart said.
Larry Judd and his industrial arts students at Yamhill-Carlton High School planed and shaped the boards for the risers and trim. In turn, the Stuarts provided a scholarship for Y-C’s industrial arts department. Y-C students also studied bird habitat, then designed and built elaborate birdhouses and feeders in a contest sponsored by the Stuarts. The winning design, created by Tabitha Rodgers, and other entries are on display on posts and poles around the farm. Also on display will be art in a variety of forms by local artists. For instance, woodcrafter Matt Hardy made the conference room table, using flooring salvaged from old box cars. As spectacular as the art may be, Stuart said, but the real focus of the B&B will be the scenery. “Most of our ‘art’ is outside,” he said.
The second “B,” breakfast, will be served in the farm’s original residence a few yards away from the silos. The Stuarts added a covered patio to the house, so guests can dine inside or outside in most weather. The menu will feature “very hearty, fresh foods from our own farm or nearby,” Stuart said. Judi Stuart will be the chief cook. She has been collecting recipes, many with a Southwest flavor, in anticipation of opening the B&B. Some of her specialties are include salsas, frittatas, blueberry pancakes and homemade granola. She also makes her own raspberry and blackberry jelly with fruit harvested on the farm. And, of course, Abbey Road Farm goat cheese will make an appearance, perhaps in goat cheese cheesecake for breakfast or on crackers at evening wine tastings.
The farm’s milk also will be featured in the Oregon Rain soap and lotions that guests will find in their rooms. Abbey Road Farm teamed up with Oregon Rain when the B&B was looking for local, high-quality soaps and the Tigard soap company was looking for a source of goat milk. The products also will be available in the B&B’s gift shop and through the farm website, www.abbeyroadfarm.com.
More information about the B&B – including rates, which run about $175 per night on weekends – also is available on the website.