Verdant View Farm Heritage
The Verdant View Farm has been in the Ranck family since 1916, and the Ranck family has been in Lancaster County since 1728, a year before Lancaster County was founded. The large frame house was built using German siding in 1896, the Victorian era, and interior door and window trim is American chestnut. At the time of the home construction, chestnut blight was killing off American chestnut trees, so this very rare wood today was abundant back then. Wood in the guest rooms was recently stripped of its varnish to reveal the beautiful natural lustre of the original chesnut.
The bank barn, 102 feet long and 62 feet wide, with a 32-foot extension on one end for a large corn crib, one of the largest barns in the area, was built in 1923 with lumber brought by Pennsylvania Railroad and Strasburg Railroad from eastern Pennsylvania. The 8 by 10 inch wooden beams that form the square were cut from one tree and are 62 feet long, and some of the 11 inch by 17 inch beams that support the second floor are 40 feet long! The barn was built by a large crew of farmer-craftsmen using poles and ropes, with mortise and tenon joints and hickory pegs! (as opposed to nails)
One of the sheds on Verdant View Farm has a stone arch under the foundation that was used as a bakery for bread that was sold daily to the 60 workmen in an adjacent, now defunct, brickyard. Many houses in the area were built with brick from that yard, operating between the 1870s depression and the propserous 1920s. A horse racetrack was operated by a previous owner along the Strasburg Railroad for a few years in the early 1900s, but was closed because people would walk down the railroad tracks to watch the races without paying.
Verdant View Farm was one of the first farm Bed & Breakfasts to open in Lancaster County, and has been in operation for over 30 years. The need for Bed & Breakfasts in Lancaster County arose when there was a severe shortage of hotel and motel rooms in the late summer, and people ended up sleeping in their cars, or traveled as far as Hershey or Philadelphia to find a room.
The guest rooms on the second story of the farmhouse originally had heatstoves in each room. Central hot-water heat was installed in the early 1920s, and electricity was brought from Strasburg by the first Ranck owners, who tried to get other residents along the one-mile stretch to help pay for the poles and lines, to no avail. After electricity was installed, others wanted to hook up, but then they had to pay a premium for the connection.
Another innovation that originated at the Ranck homestead was Ruth Ranck's purchase of the second microwave oven used in the entire state of Pennsylvania in 1958. Ruth used the microwave to cook turkeys, which she sold out of the home. Ruth Ranck, married to Lloyd Ranck, lived on the farm between 1945 and 1975, when their son Donald and his wife Virginia Ranck, the current operators, acquired the farm.
The spirit of innovation did not stop in the second generation of Rancks at Verdant View. Donald Ranck, third generation Ranck on Verdant View Farm, was among the first in the USA to buy a personal computer, which he purchased in 1979, and used to keep and sort information on bull types for use in artificial insemination. In 2006, he worked with a local Amish manufacturer to design and build an innovative tour wagon called the Ultimate Outlook.
Lancaster County is known to have the best non-irrigated farmland in the United States. Verdant View Farm is situated in the fertile Pequea Valley, which contains softly rolling hills and an abundance of streams and trees. Two natural springs originate on Verdant View Farm, one of which flows into the farm pond, and the other which starts a stream which eventaully flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
The 115-acre farm has deep, well-drained Conestoga silt loam and Duffield silt loam soils, some of the best in the area. On dry years, the farm survives drought very well and has abundant crops, but on wet years crops suffer if there is excessive rain. The farm was originally three separate tracts of land, combined over the years, and have certified, fully-implemented conservation plans starting in 1954, and has certified nutrient management plans since the program began.
Verdant View Farm Bed & Breakfast