Soft, buttermilk light drenches dew-soaked pastures. A rooster crows in the distance, his cock-a-doodle-doos bounce off majestic oaks, which frame the open field that I’m parked on with 11 other Airstreams. The sun hasn’t peeked over the horizon yet, but each silver capsule glimmers. We are parked nose to tail, circle-the-wagons style. In the bullseye are three fire pits and a gaggle of camp chairs left over from late-night fireside conversations. A handful of early birds bundled up in knit caps and puffy jackets stoke a smoky fire. Between rooster crows, the only sounds are the rustling of leaves and the breeze.
As I continue to type, the first golden rays trickle through Spanish moss and tangled oak branches. Behind my trailer, water droplets dot a cattle fence and hang from a rusted line of barbed wire that stretches taut between sun bleached, rough cut posts. Each drop reflects one point of light from the rising sun. Beyond the fence is a field of stringy, golden prairie grass. Silky spider web bundles dangle from the tall grass like over ripe cotton balls heavy with dew.
This is the G.O.A.T. (Gathering Our Airstreams Together) Rally at Serenity Acres Farm in Pinetta, Florida. Steve Cook and Matty Garrett, from the Southeastern Camping Unit (SECU), organized this inaugural event and we all hope this is the first of many. Serenity Acres is a Harvest Hosts location in north central Florida, a few miles south of the Georgia line. The farm’s claim to fame is their herd of happy goats and famous goat milk soaps. They also have non-pasteurized goat milk products.
I’m a newbie in the rally department — this is the second full rally that I’ve attended and my first boondocking rally . . . which is right up my alley because I prefer living off grid and as far away from the hustle and bustle as possible. Here is the recap — and a gleaming recommendation to hang with the SECU peeps
We had 12 Airstreams, 21 Airstreamers, five pet dogs, six Great Pyrenees working dogs, three farm cats, 37 goats, 35 chickens, two cows and a whole lotta fun. The rally kicked off Thursday with rigs trickling in. Steve Cook and Matt Hackney lined up perfectly spaced (and remarkably level!) parking locations. By late afternoon, everyone was on site and we gathered in the center under canopy tents to keep cool. Over four days, we experienced all four seasons. That first day was hot and sunny with highs in the 80s. We enjoyed happy hour and snacks while Matty welcomed us, shared a bit about the farm, listed entertainment options and filled us in on a few planned events.
With the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers nearby, this area is a prime spot for kayaking, tubing and nature gazing. Steve planned a guided paddle, but recent rains had the rivers 12 feet above acceptable kayaking levels. As much as we wanted to try our hand at Florida white water rafting, the outfitter wouldn’t let us take the plunge. So Friday ended up being an open day.
I snuck in a bike ride on oak-canopied country roads through rolling hills. I rode about nine miles east, straight towards a large storm front, and hoped the tailwind would help me win the race back to camp. My plan almost worked! Less than a mile from the finish, the storm surged ahead and surprised me with a blast of cold wind and a shower. Camp was empty — one carload of knitters and quilters had ventured off to a craft store and the rest of the gang drove to check out a brewery in Valdosta, the Georgia Beer Company.
After the storm, the weather turned chilly and breezy. Julia, the owner of Serenity Farms, took us on an afternoon farm tour. Then the whole gang bundled up around the three Solo Stoves to keep warm and share a cookout dinner, which was included with our rally fee. The rally fee was only $25 per Airstream … what a deal!
Friday night, the temperatures dipped into the mid-30s with crystal clear skies. Thousands and thousands of stars pinpricked the dark sky. One of the best parts of this rally was the peace and quiet: not an ounce of traffic noise or light pollution. The farm is so far off the beaten path that it bathes in pure peace.
Saturday morning started with a campfire and a 10 a.m. yoga date with the goats. This was the coming out event for the brand new goat kids and their moms. It ended up being the highlight of the weekend for many rally goers (and the goats too!)
Imagine a whole herd of momma goats and their rambunctious month-old babies (they love to climb on things, and when humans are around, they enjoy climbing on us too). Here’s the thing: the herd of frisky goats are not potty-trained. So it’s simple to realize there are inherent risks involved with goat yoga. I am not a yoga person, but I thought “You only live once . . . Why not?” I am so glad I did!
It was nippy as we laid our mats in a field under clear blue skies. The goats and our brilliant yoga instructor, Tori, did not disappoint. Everyone (goats and humans alike) behaved exceptionally well — no pees or poos on the mats. Goat yoga lasted an hour, complete with yoga furry challenged poses (see pictures), and included a lot of laughter, giggles and slightly chewed-on hair. The peanut gallery, which consisted of the rest of the rally members, had tons of fun watching all the baby goat shenanigans. As the yoga class wound down to the resting part, the goats rested as well and each baby chose their own human snuggle partner.
Saturday was picture perfect with highs in the 60s. We hung out in the center of our ring of rigs for an all-day campfire, wonderful conversations, knitting and games. We finished off the night with a team effort fajita dinner. As luck would have it, one of the neighboring farms must have had a shindig.
While we dined on fajitas, we were serenaded with soft mariachi music that dribbled in through the forest. Talk about ordering up the perfect ambiance! What luck and what a way to wrap up a wonderful rally.
A quote from Serenity Acres Farm’s latest newsletter:
“The Airstream Rally was fantastic. Matty and Steve did such a fabulous job as hosts and everyone was so nice. It was the first rally we hosted and it couldn’t have gone better. They all were dream visitors to the farm. Great neighbors, took care of the property, and left everything just the way they found it, if not better.”
Drop by Serenity Acres for a farm tour or check out their offerings here: serenitygoats.com. Their goat milk soap is divine, and they ship. Are you a member of Harvest Host? If so, stop over for the night. Maybe we’ll see you at the next G.O.A.T. rally!
Note: This article was first published in the April 2023 Blue Beret Magazine