If you haven't tried a farm stay experience, we highly recommend it. A good farm stay doesn't just incorporate a working farm into your vacation, but rather folds your vacation into the farm experience. Your family enjoys a getaway that's relaxing, centered, and hands-on, and you leave feeling as though you've truly rested (even though you've been doing chores!). At Leaping Lamb, my farm-crazy eight-year-old got his fill of the farm life, but the rest of us also fell in love: with the nature surrounding us, the tranquility, and the lifestyle we were fortunate enough to live for our two night stay.
FARM LIFE ON LEAPING LAMB FARM:
You'll want to devote at least 2-3 nights to the Leaping Lamb experience. While the farm is within easy driving distance of the Oregon coast, and within 2 hours of Portland, if you plan to use it as a base for day trips, you'll want to spend even longer. Why? There's so much to do on the farm! Once we'd arrived, we had no interest in leaving the grounds. Families can hike on-site in the coastal range of the temperate rain forest, play in the creeks, and picnic, in addition to helping out on the farm.
There are two main chore times at Leaping Lamb, and owner Scottie Jones will come get you to assist if you'd like to participate. We loved it, and because of Scottie's inclusive nature, we never felt as if we were in the way. Rather, by the time we were heading home, the kids felt as if they knew all about the workings of the farm: what to feed which type of livestock, where to let the sheep go to pasture, how to feed the chickens and collect the eggs...all of it! Guests can collect eggs and let the free range flock in and out, feed the sheep and lead them to pasture, care for the two horses and donkey, and pick produce in season. Many of the animals have names, and within only hours, we could name them all!
The kids especially loved the Tom turkey, P-Diddy the peacock, Paco the donkey, and Tater the Quarter Horse, and fell head over heels for Boots the lamb. We spent our days exploring the creek, playing in the pastures, playing in the hayloft, hiking, and just sitting with a good book, listening to the bird calls.
Leaping Lamb hosts only one family at a time, so the farm is yours to explore! The guest cottage is cozy and warm, with a living room, full kitchen, bathroom with tub, and two bedrooms. It sleeps six, and if you have little ones, everything you need is there: a port-a-crib, high chair, safety screen for the wood-stove, etc. There's a great porch with bird feeders and picnic table, and a washer and dryer!
The kitchen comes stocked for your stay with breakfast foods. We had more than enough. Every morning, we made waffles and fried eggs (fresh from the farm) and had fruit, cinnamon bread, and muffins leftover for a picnic lunch. We brought food for dinner (there's a small convenience store in nearby Alsea, but will only have the basics) and there are lots of boots and extra jackets to use while you're there. We were snug at night for sure: there's a DVD player and a TV with a VHS player and a selection of family-friendly movies, games, and puzzles. There's WIFI at the cottage, but cell service is spotty at best.
You won't want to leave the farm, but if you must, Newport OR and the aquarium is just over 45 miles away, and Portland is two hours' drive. Closer in, there are additional hikes and a fish hatchery.
Don't use your car GPS system. Instead, follow the directions given to you when you reserve the cottage. From I-5, the farm is about one hour away, through Corvallis.
When you arrive, you'll get an initial tour of the farm, and after that, you're free to roam at will. The main rule: close any gates you open! Depending on the season, you may be on-hand to see lambs born, bottle feed them, and/or pick produce from the garden. During our May stay, we helped feed a smaller 'runt' lamb, helped herd a missing lamb back to the barn, and mucked out stalls in between chore times. Two days weren't enough!
Bring plenty of play clothes, as you all will get dirty, and use the boots provided for the stalls and pastures. Bring hiking boots for the trails, and water shoes for the creek! Yes, a lot of clothing is required, but there's space in the cottage to store it all!
The Leaping Lamb farm stay was like no other vacation. It makes for a great alternative to a hotel stay, for roughly the same price ($150/nightly, plus $25 for additional people, at time of this review). For this price of a hotel room, you get breakfast, farm life, and so much nature to explore!
Disclaimer: we stayed at Leaping Lamb on a complimentary stay, for the purpose of this review.