The Wallowas Are Calling And You Must Go
Find a dog-friendly respite at Barking Mad Farm in Enterprise.
Chief Joseph, Sacajawea, Matterhorn, Glacier, Eagle Cap, Twin, Sawtooth, Ruby, East Hurricane. Each snowcapped peak unfurls a glimpse into the natural history of the Wallowas and a unique vantage on the verdant patchwork of farmland 5,000 feet below. Up at summit elevation, where the air is thinner than the loose shards of granite underfoot, a person gains a little perspective. Down among the cow-dotted fields, just outside of Enterprise in the Wallowa Valley, it’s just as easy to lose yourself in the oversized scenery. The towering Wallowa Mountains to the west are an ever-present alpine marvel visible even at night when they cut a jagged line across the star mottled sky.
Cattle dog Roo lounges on the covered porch at Barking Mad Farm, cocking his ears to the crackle of the campfire, the hoot of an owl and the rhythmic churn of sprinkler lines soaking nearby fields. Luckily, you don’t have to be a cattle rancher, or a cattle dog, to bask in the majesty of northeast Oregon. This porch is open to all of Barking Mad Farm’s guests, who are invited to grab a seat on the porch swing and soak in the solitude.
When guests awake in the morning, the natural world beckons through the window. From the Seven Devils Suite, early risers can watch the eponymous Idaho mountain range glow a fiery orange on the eastern horizon. The 600-square-foot suite maximizes natural light from its perch on the upper level of a building adjacent the property’s classic white and robin’s egg blue farmhouse.
Next door, in the renovated early-1900s abode, the luxury Treetops Suite spans the entire second floor. Emily Klavins owns the bed and breakfast with her husband, Rob, but the pair originally came to the farm as guests. They recommend the Treetops Suite for romantic getaways.
If the mountain air is crisp, light a fire in Treetops’ brick fireplace. Downstairs, the more straightforward Buffalo Suite has an extra bed and views of the neighboring field populated with American bison. This suite is also closest to the sizzle of frying bacon in the morning.
To Market, to Market
The Klavins have been procuring a whole pig for meat each year since they bought the farm from the former owners in 2013, when Rob was able to relocate to Enterprise while keeping his job with the conservation group Oregon Wild. This year, the novice farmers purchased two sows and a hog and brought three litters of kunekune heritage piglets into the world.
“They are little ambassadors,” said Emily. “So socialized—running up to guests to present their bellies for rubs.”
The investment is the latest step in the couple’s plan to be sustainable stewards of Barking Mad Farm’s forty-two acres, an ethic rooted in how they met teaching outdoor school. Currently, much of the acreage is leased to a third party, but the Klavins are hoping to ramp up their use of land year-by-year, demonstrating rural life to guests.
Something to Bark About
On the morning of our interview, Emily had taken some forty-odd hens to a local natural processor to be butchered and was delivering the meat to neighbors. During the warmer months, trips into town revolve around the farmers’ market and farm stand, respectively. The rest of the shopping list items are crossed off at Ruby Peak Naturals and the organic section at the grocery store.
“We value the actual experience people can have with food before it becomes little packages in your fridge,” said Emily.
Emily cooks guests a scratch-made breakfast each morning. Seasonal fruits inspire dishes such as raspberry crepes with crème fraiche, huckleberry drizzle and toasted almonds. Her homemade granola is always fresh, and she need only step out to the henhouse to gather eggs for the Barking Mad Benedict.
When Roo wants to take a break from all the pigs and free-range chickens running about, he retreats to a two-acre fenced field. There in the “dog park” he’ll gladly show off his stomping grounds to guest dogs. Dogs (and cats) are welcome at Barking Mad Farm if they are friendly and respectful of other people and animals.
Off the farm, a favorite nearby activity for pups and people alike is the hike to Slick Rock from Hurricane Creek Trailhead, where gurgling snowmelt cascades down one pool after another, creating a natural slip-n-slide (6.5 miles, out and back). Joseph and Wallowa Lake beyond offer arts, culture and recreation in spades.
Back in Enterprise, Sinclair Coffee Co. is a great spot for a lunch burrito and a caffeinated pick-me-up. Another tasty daytime option is Sugar Time Bakery, which has stellar sweets and paninis. Grab a midday or evening meal and a pint at Terminal Gravity Brewing.
Shop for skin products at Wild Carrot Herbals, then head to The Bookloft. Hours will pass by as you peruse local art in the bookstore’s Skylight Gallery, chat with locals at creaky wooden tables and pick up reading fodder to take back to Barking Mad Farm’s Adirondack lawnchairs. There in the sunken seats, alternating page turns with glances at the mountains, you will likely stay planted for the remainder of your trip.