What’s to Love: City folks just don’t understand what it takes to run a farm. Where does our food come from anyway? Most of us have become detached (to varying degrees) from our food sources. Very rarely do city kids get a chance to visit a farm where they can actually feed animals, shovel manure, pick produce, clean stalls, and breath clean fresh air. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to kick back and relax and/or run wild at Leaping Lamb’s “Farm Stay.” No matter your level of comfort, the Jones family provides a fresh alternative to most family getaways.
If you’re into 80′s indie music, I recommend reading “Our Band Could be Your Life” by Michael Azerrad. The gist of this great book is that it really didn’t take much to be in a punk/indie band in the 80′s. Almost anyone could have fallen into a band, and many of the “stars” of that era are simply middle-aged normal people now. When visiting Leaping Lamb Farm, I kept thinking the Jones family should write a book called, “Our Farm Could be Your Life.” You see, the Jones family had a belief they could change their lives and become farmers, and that’s just what they did. Learning along the way (sometimes the hard way), the Jones family probably makes most families feel like they could also move to the country and start up a farm. I admit, many times I found myself thinking, “…this could be a very nice life.”
About 7 years ago, the Jones family was living in Tempe, Arizona. To me, this seems the polar opposite of little Alsea, Oregon in the coast range west of Corvallis. When Scottie Jones started telling us their story, I thought immediately that they were a bit crazy. After meeting Scottie, her two daughters, and husband Greg, I can say with absolute accuracy that they are not crazy, but actually very grounded people with a desire to positively impact the lives of their family members, the surrounding community, and the lives of their guests. After our visit, it seems they’ve succeeded on all fronts. They go out of their way to make you feel at home and part of their family.
While on the farm, you’ll stay in a cozy, comfortable, 2-bedroom cabin. Upon arrival, we opened the refrigerator and found fresh-baked bread, homemade pear-butter, milk, orange juice, eggs (from the farm), butter, and assorted fruits and vegetables from their garden. The cabinets were fully stocked with everything we needed to make waffles in the morning – including a Belgian waffle iron! Bring your own food for snacks, lunch and dinner.
The beds were comfortable with plenty of pillows and blankets, and the living-room-futon provided a restful getaway from our oft-waking, 15-month-old baby. We enjoyed sitting on the porch that steps down to a spacious patio complete with table, chairs, and a gas grill. Sans kids, this patio becomes your little slice of heaven. If it’s your thing, bring a few bottles of wine and enjoy a late-night rendezvous soaking in the beautiful surroundings.
Around 9AM of our first morning, the Jones family stopped by the cabin to give us a tour of the farm that included plenty of time feeding the animals. While being led around the farm, Scottie Jones patiently communicated the many idiosyncrasies of working with farm animals. Particularly, I liked the way she connected to both of our children, and I suspect, she makes the same connection with other visitors and their kids. Here are a couple clips from our visit.
Caveats: The cabin is a two bedroom with one bathroom (sleeps 6). There is a futon that folds into a bed in the living room; however, if you have a larger family, you’ll want to be prepared for some tight accommodations.
While not an episode of “Man vs Wild,” the farm is located in the country. If your kids have allergies (especially severe allergies), you’ll definitely want to bring any medications and/or epi-pens with you. If you want a bit of city life or the Oregon coast, you’re looking at about an hour drive on beautiful, windy country roads.
The nightly rate is very reasonable (currently at $125/night); however, that is for 1-2 people. After that, it’s $25 per person. Children 3 and under are free!
Website: Leaping Lamb Farm
Distance from Portland: About 105 miles, which is between 2 – 2 1/2 hours in the car for most families. Here is a Google Map with directions from Portland.
Recommended Ages: All ages will be fine on the farm. It’s a bit difficult keeping watch over toddlers around the animals, manure, dogs, etc. However, our 15-month old toddler had so much fun that I wouldn’t think twice about going back with a child that small. With that, I believe most kids between the ages of 5 and 10 would be the perfect fit, especially if they have siblings and/or friends to join in on the fun.
Parental Stress Factor: Medium. If you’re not used to being around farm animals, it’s a bit stressful as a parent. Inherently, little kids want to pet, touch and chase after animals. It’s best to stick close to Scottie and her family while visiting the animals at first. Scottie takes great care in explaining how to interact with the animals to avoid any stressful situations for the kids. She knows how to communicate very well with children, and you can tell she enjoys this part of the farm stay.
Physical Difficulty: Living on a farm is *potentially* hard work! Hiking around the farm is not a problem, but there are no specific accommodations for wheelchairs or other physical limitations. If you’re concerned, give the farm a call and discuss these issues with them.
Concerning “farm work,” don’t worry, you can make this stay as easy or as hard as you want. There is no requirement to work, and the Jones family will give you all the privacy you desire, if that’s what you want. We enjoyed feeding the animals, looking for eggs, picking tomatoes, and playing in the stream.
Family Fun Factor: Medium to high – When you’re just hanging out, this is a very relaxing and stress-free environment. If you have older kids, you’ll have a blast hiking up in the woods that surround the property or playing in their streams. In my opinion, this is just the type of environment that brings families together. However, in many ways, Leaping Lamb is the anti-resort (resort alternative) – you won’t find arts and crafts, recreation center, childcare, bike trails, disc golf, etc. Sometimes, less is more.
Pet Friendly: There are plenty of animals on the farm! Family pets are not allowed.
Weather Considerations: A gorgeous place anytime of the year. However, the appeal at Leaping Lamb farm is being outside. If the rain will put a damper on things for you, try to book your trip during the summer months. Obviously, the summer months are a very busy time for the Farm Stay. Therefore, you’ll want to book your trip far in advance!
Insider Info: Be very careful driving on the curves (heading west) about 5-10 miles from the farm, especially at night! These are some of the windiest roads I’ve ever traveled with deer along the side of the road in one section.
Make sure to ask Scottie for some corn to feed the rams. My son enjoyed rattling the container to attract them from across their field. Sure enough, they would both come running when they heard that sound! This was a big highlight for him.
If you’re planning on staying awhile, use the farm as a home base. Head about 50 miles over to “Driftwood Beach State Park,” which is one of our favorite spots along the coast between Newport and Waldport. There are also plenty of other beaches in the area.
Family Tips: If you plan on jumping in with the farm chores, bring appropriate clothing (long pants, close-toed-shoes or boots, a hat, etc.). Most likely, these shoes will get decorated with a bit of mud and/or manure. Therefore, if you plan on visiting other locales, bring some extra shoes.
For excellent family fun, make sure you visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium while you’re staying at the farm, or on your way home. This is an excellent aquarium for such a small town. My only caution is the price tag for the whole family!
If you have an infant, you’ll definitely want to bring a child carrier or jogging stroller to get around the farm. There are plenty of times where you’ll be walking in and/or around manure – you wouldn’t want your little one to do a face plant!
Don’t bother bringing any breakfast foods unless your kids are very picky. The farm supplies everything to make pancakes and/or waffles (including a nice waffle iron), eggs, milk, juice, fruit, and any other vegetables in season. Definitely bring a cooler with your lunch and dinner fixings.
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