Go back in time on ‘Haycation’ Hagen Farm offers unique vacation experience SNOHOMISH - It’s all still there, right down to the 40-year-old homemade basketball hoop in the barn. Every bit of it, though, had been sitting for years before she moved in.
But now that Barbara Carlson lives with Jay Hagen on the farm where he’s lived every day of his 55-year-old life, the farm at 6904 E. Lowell-Larimer Road in the Snohomish River Valley has come back to life. There are milking lambs and calves trying out their legs for the first time. And now, every movement made on the 220 acres of the Hagen family farm contributes to the micro-economy of a real-life working farm.
And if you’re lucky enough to book one of their refurnished historic farmhouses, you will not only enjoy a peaceful vacation on the Hagen Farm, but you can take a trip back in time when gadgets and cellphones didn’t rule the world.
Carlson coined a word to describe the farm-resort business: a “haycation.”
“I say that people come to disconnect and then reconnect,” Carlson said.
She and Hagen live in the biggest of the three 113-year-old houses on the property, which also has two enormous gothic-style barns, of which there are not many left in the country. There are maybe 20 left in Washington state, Carlson said. The two Hagen barns were built by hand in the 1930s, and their craftsmanship is truly impressive.
On the tour that Carlson gives to haycationers (or anyone who drives by and wants one, for that matter), the basketball hoop made of wooden boards Hagen used growing up still stands on the second level of one of the barns.
There are two other houses on the property the couple now rents out that have a rustic resort feel. One is a three-bedroom, two-story house that Hagen grew up in, and the other is a smaller, two-bedroom cottage that once housed the hired help.
Hagen and Carlson no longer hire people to work the farm; they work it seven days a week year-round.
As part of the get-away experience on the Hagen Farm, the guests in Carlson’s haycation properties make great volunteer farmhands. Guests have the opportunity to help out with farm chores and maybe even get to bottle-feed the weeks-old baby cows or see that the bigger sheep are sharing the alfalfa with the smaller lambs.
“It’s so cute, the kids wear their little barn outfits; they love it,” Carlson said.
Carlson said they’ve met people from all over the United States who’ve come to Snohomish to visit relatives who don’t have room for them to stay, as well as families who want to get back to basics on a peaceful vacation.
“We have met so many wonderful people, and they have so enjoyed getting in touch with their inner farmer,” Carlson said. “They learn about where their food comes from, about the health benefits of ‘eating wild’, supporting your local farmer, and then shopping the local farms and coming back to make a true farm-to-table meal at the farm.”
A few years ago Carlson took a critical look at the Hagen Farm. Now that it was up and running again, she started trying to think of ways she could use the facility in a different, yet still economically driven way.
“I was sick of driving by (the two houses) and seeing them in disrepair,” Carlson said. So she decided to fix them up and has now rented them out to more than 30 families over the past three years.
The idea has proved successful: the Hagen Farm haycation homes are booked nearly solid through October.
To book a stay, go to www.VRBO.com in the Washington state/Puget Sound region/Snohomish area and look for the houses on the Hagen Farm called the “Lyon’s Den” and the “Hagen White House.” The couple can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carlson and Hagen have a few dozen sheep and cattle they raise for the meat and slaughter on-site. And sometimes, inquisitive young minds learn about where their dinner comes from on trips to the Hagen Farm.
“I always mention it to the parents when the kids aren’t around because that’s not my call,” Carlson said. “And oftentimes I’ll have the parents tell me that this is why they’re coming here; we want our kids to know where their food comes from. I’ve never had a child get upset because our animals are so well cared for that the way I explain it to them, it’s more humane to be on a farm like this than to buy slaughterhouse meat.”
Carlson said has plans upon plans to keep expanding their little business. Flea markets and mercantile stands in the barns; she even hands out blackberry honey she makes.
“Preserving our farms is something I think about all the time,” Carlson said. “It never gets tiring to drive through the Snohomish Valley and see so many of the same families carry on their family’s legacy. I’m loving every minute of it.”