Pleasure Acres Farm & Museum
107 Hornock Dr., New Alexandria, PA 15670
Pleasure Acres Farm is the lifelong dream of Barbara Martin, who purchased a section of her parents’ farm in 1993. Martin and her husband, George quickly got to work, turning the former dairy farm into a haven for horses. In addition, they still raise a few beef cattle and farm the land for hay and garden vegetables.
After many visits from their children, grandchildren and friends, they realized how much fun families had on the farm and decided that so much beauty must be shared by others.
There are a lot of things to see and do at the farm, including
- Walking trails around the hay fields
- Guided tours of the horse barn
- The James R. Hornock Horse Drawn Equipment and Horse Drawn Carriage Museum
- Hayrides and bonfires
- The Covered Bridge Grove (featuring a picnic pavilion and country catering)
- Special events such as the Pumpkin Fest and Christmas Open House
Barb Martin’s father made a pony cart for her when she was little. She remembers when he hitched up Johnny The Pony to pull it, then tied the pony to Nellie, his own big red mare.
They rode all around their farm in Salem and, she said, “he taught me to drive and ride almost before I could walk.”
Those memories of nearly a half-century ago are still fresh, and the homemade pony cart is still in her barn.
Last year, Mrs. Martin, 54, opened the James R. Hornock Horsedrawn Equipment and Horsedrawn Carriage Museum there as a tribute to her late father and to farm days past.
She also opened the museum because she had a difficult time throwing old stuff away.
“The idea really started two or three years ago when my husband, George, and I were cleaning out a shed and we were finding things in the piles of junk,” she said. “There was a horse-drawn plow, a sickle bar and a corn planter, and I kept saying, ‘Don’t throw that away. I want it.’
“George said then we’d have to find a place to put it all, and that’s when we decided to have a museum.”
The museum is open by appointment for group and private tours, and on October weekends it’s open for the couple’s popular Pumpkin Fest on the farm, named Pleasure Acres.
They hosted a public weekend this month, with other weekends reserved for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and church and youth groups.
On a recent Saturday, 200 people attended a fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Association. Mrs. Martin’s neighbor, Scott Merichko, has a son with the disease, and Mr. Merichko’s late wife, Jennifer, was involved in research.
The farm is decorated with pumpkins, corn and real farm scarecrows made with stuffed shirts and overalls. There were hayrides, pumpkins to pick, tours of the horse barn, refreshments at the pavilion, and a chance to explore a little covered bridge that Mr. Hornock built in the 1960s.
“The kids really love visiting with the horses because many have never had that experience of seeing a horse up close and touching it,” Mrs. Martin said. “People of all ages ask a lot of questions in the museum, too. They want to learn about it.”
Mr. Hornock was raised on a nearby farm in Salem and his wife, Olga, grew up on a dairy farm, also in Salem. They bought this farm 60 years ago and ran a dairy business and raised horses. Mrs. Martin and her husband, who is now retired from the restaurant industry, bought the farm in the 1980s and continued raising horses, but not cows. Mr. Hornock died five years ago at age 84.
“My first horse was born here on the farm, when I was 7, and died 37 years later, when I was 44,” she said. “I held his head when he was born and I held his head when he was put to sleep in the same field where he was born. His name was Trigger.”
There are nine horses in the barn that houses the museum. A few are boarded, and among her own are several that were rescued by humane groups, one that had been beaten so badly that he is blind.
Mr. Hornock initially used horse-drawn equipment on his farm, and when he finally got a tractor, it was a John Deere. It was the only make he would ever buy, Mrs. Martin said.
“When he was a little boy, his father went to the other dealers who wanted the work horses in exchange for a tractor,” she said. “The kids were carrying on and crying, and so the John Deere dealer told him, ‘You can make payments on the tractor. Let the kids have the horses.’ ”
She and her father acquired a number of carriages and wagons over the years just to collect them, and some were hired out for parades and wedding parties. The museum collection also has a bobsled, a surrey with the fringe on top, and a buckboard wagon identical to the one that Mr. Hornock once used to take grain to the gristmill at Saint Vincent Archabbey and College, near Latrobe.
There are passenger wagons, two newer Meadow Brook carriages made by the Amish, and a training cart that Mr. Hornock made for breaking driving horses. And, of course, Mrs. Martin’s little pony cart.
Walls, posts, shelves and cabinets are filled with other old farm equipment, harnesses, hay hooks, sickle bars, plows, a corn planter, stretchers for repairing wire fences, milking equipment, big metal cans, and many more things that Mr. Hornock used on the farm decades ago.
A tackroom in the barn holds what Mrs. Martin calls some of her best treasures — a series of framed photos of her father’s funeral procession moving through the snow-covered farm. The procession was led by an antique tractor and at the end was a riderless horse with boots facing backwards in the stirrups.
All of the horses on the farm came on their own, Mrs. Martin said, and lined up along the fence as the procession went by.
“It’s like my father is still here,” she said. “I can feel his spirit on the farm.”
The museum is open by appointment. Call Mrs. Martin at 724-668-2029 for information.