Dairy Couple Downsizes Dairy, Expands B&B

12/1/2012 7:00 AM
By Carol Ann Gregg Western Pa. Correspondent

JAMESTOWN, Pa. — When dairy producers Al and Betty Wester were operating their free-stall dairy business in northwestern Pennsylvania, they often wished that they could travel. So, they decided if they couldn’t leave their 100-cow Jersey herd in Jamestown and everything that goes along with it, they still could invite people to come to them. They realized that fellowship was one of the things they missed the most.

In 2005, they built two cabins on their property — Becky’s Bungalow and Cora’s Cottage — the start of their farm-focused bed-and-breakfast operation.

“We named the cabins after favorite cows,” Al said. Each cabin can accommodate five adults.

The Westers continued dairy farming until 2010 when they sold their operation and moved to a new house built next door, near the cottages.

When they built the new house, they included two suites so that they could increase their capacity, which now totals accommodations for 16 adults.

Modern architecture was used for the cabins and the main house. The interiors were designed for comfort. Becky’s Bungalow has sleeping space for five adults on one level.

The nearby Cora’s Cottage has a loft with two twin beds and a large picture window that looks out at the woods from the family living area.

The suites are called Gardenia’s Get-Away, which accommodates four people with a queen-sized bed and sofa bed, and Nellie’s Nest, which accommodates two and has a queen-sized bed outfitted with quilts and views of the nearby farm that once was owned by the Westers.

The suites are handicapped accessible with ramps and private entrances.

The other part of their B&B is a country-style home-cooked breakfast.

Betty and Al serve breakfast each day from 8 to 9 a.m. in the main house. Guests can also have breakfast delivered to their cabin or suite.

Betty enjoys baking and now has a commercial mixer that allows her to make large batches of bread. Betty’s breakfast fare may include items such as an egg-and-sausage casserole; warm homemade cinnamon rolls; and assorted homemade breads that have been toasted and buttered. Juice and all the coffee they can drink is offered to their guests. This was the menu on Nov. 5, when the Westers hosted the meeting of the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association at their bed and breakfast.

A Micro Dairy

Al and Betty believe it is important for the public to understand more about their food sources. They had wanted to continue providing that connection with agriculture for their guests. Thus began the development of their micro-dairy.

“We love our cows,” Al said as he showed off the first Jersey heifer, Blessing, to live in their new barn.

The mini-barn and milk house has been constructed across the lane from the main house. It has accommodations for six milking cows — Jerseys, of course — with a small exercise lot along the side. During the first week of November, six cows that had continued to be housed in their former barn were moved into the micro dairy.

“After we get all the kinks worked out, we plan to sell raw milk,” Al said.

They are doing all the things necessary to comply with the raw milk regulations that are imposed by the state’s department of agriculture.

“We have had people inquiring already (for raw milk). I have probably spent as much on this setup as I would have for a 100-cow barn,” Al said.

The new barn has a modern architecture similar to the house and cabins. The Westers think it will be of interest to most of their guests.

Near the new barn is a small chicken house. These chickens provide all the eggs for the B&B.

The B&B is located near many spots of interest which they hope will draw the interest of guests. Pymatuning State Park is close and includes the Pymatuning Spillway, the Pennsylvania Hatchery and Waterfowl Museum; areas for picnicking; swimming; boating; fishing; hiking and hunting. Pymatuning Deer Park is just up the road on the edge of the small borough of Jamestown. Conneaut Lake Amusement Park is not far and there are various restaurants and antique shops in the area.

To take a virtual tour of the micro-dairy property visit www.westerfarm.com. To learn about farm vacations visit the site of the Pennsylvania Farm Vacation Association at www.farmstay.org.

Does milk have a lot of untapped potential in today’s competitive beverage market?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Unsure

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