I could tell you it's the sheep and their wooly babes. Or I could say it's silly Gillie the dog who comes calling at your cottage door when he hears the clang of dishes being washed. I might say it's the feinting goats, the donkey named Paco, the trio of horses, Pea Diddy the peacock, or the fairy-filled forest trails. But the truth is, families come again and again to Leaping Lamb Farm because of its welcoming and kindhearted owner, Scottie Jones.
Greener pastures at Leaping Lamb Farm
Scottie has lived on these 70 acres with her husband, Greg, for 14 years. The couple decided to write a new chapter of their lives' story when entering their 50s. So they left their business careers in the Phoenix Area to pursue greener, wetter pastures in Alsea, Oregon. Their friends laid bets that the couple wouldn't last more than three years on the farm. That only spurred them on to make their farm a success.
At Leaping Lamb Farm, Scottie and Greg cut and bail their own hay (sometimes with help from neighbors) and chase down their runaway sheep when their livestock outsmart the fences to leap into the surrounding mountains. When the Joneses realized their farm was eating their retirement savings, the couple built a two-bedroom cottage on property and began renting it out to suburb- and city-dwellers like my family for nature-filled vacations.
The beauty is big in this bucolic spot of Oregon, about an hour and a half from Portland. You'll wake to the sound of a rooster (or two) crowing on your first morning. But you'll soon adapt to the mellow sounds of farm life, cock-a-doodle-doos included. Two hand-fed rams baa for their daily servings of dried corn. The hens cluck. The duck quacks as it waddles into a plastic wading pool. Green grapes grow on vines that twist their way up the deck of the cottage. It's all framed by giant evergreen trees in the distance.
Love is in the details
It's the little touches that keep families coming back to Leaping Lamb Farm. Thought has been put into the details to make simple things even more memorable during a farm stay here.
The Joneses outfitted the hay barn with a basketball hoop and basketball. With parental supervision, kids are welcome to climb the hay stacks to shoot and play. Light streams in through the barn's slats, painting sunbeams across their smiling faces.
Scottie gives hand-drawn maps to fairy houses that a talented farmhand built on their property. Ahem…I mean the houses were built by fairies who find Leaping Lamb Farm as magical and welcoming as human guests do. Leave a note in the wee mailbox at one such tiny home and expect a letter mailed to your house after your vacation.
The flavors of Leaping Lamb Farm
Guests are invited to wander through the vegetable garden, flower patch and green house. You can supplement your meals with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, herbs and more. (It's not a free for all, though, people. Let's be reasonable.)
Leaping Lamb Farm pushed my kids, especially my youngest, out of comfort zones. My son has a fear of vegetables and especially fruits. Never before had he ever tasted a berry. At Leaping Lamb Farm he didn't hesitate to pluck a mulberry from the tree and pop it into his mouth.
Leaping Lamb Farm lessons
Scottie doesn't merely give guests a tour of the property. She connects. She asks questions about your family, and cares about the answers. She explains the why of farm work to children and their parents: how to find the barn swallow nests, how composting works, why it's important to pick a horse's hoof before riding it.
Finding balance at Leaping Lamb Farm
The Joneses have fashioned a tightrope on which children can play while parents watch from the cottage deck, glass of wine in hand. The rope is a couple of feet above ground, strung between two trees. When my 8-year-old son started bouncing on it, Scottie said in her soft way, “I might ask you not to jump there. The rope is meant for balancing. It's not a trampoline. Can you show me how far you can balance on it walking from one end to the other?”
Childhood, how it should be
Usually my children avoid and whine about chores of any sort. Not so on the farm. I gave them free-reign to explore here…the only rule being not to go into the forest or hay barn without an adult. This newfound freedom turned my lazybones kiddos into productive farmers that gleefully collected eggs, fed the horses and even mucked out stalls.
There's a trust here; trust that children will follow the farm rules and act responsibly. Trust, for example, that the kids can take the mama goat for a walk on a rope lead with her two babies following behind. And that children will, “steer the goats away from my flowers and berries, but encourage them to eat the weeds instead.”
When I was a kid, I played for hours outdoors, without adult supervision. Today, with fears of kidnappers and molesters, my children sadly don't have that same freedom to explore and scrape up their knees and come home when the street lamps light up. It was such a joy to call out my children's names at dinnertime from the cottage door and watch them scramble in from the world of play for a family meal. How wonderful it was to let them live a few days of innocence, free from my helicopter love and unburdened by their own obsession with technology.
A farmer is born
We all mourned a little the day of our departure from Leaping Lamb Farm. My 11-year-old daughter, Karissa, made her rounds to ensure she snapped a photo of all of the animals, and get an extra snuggle with Paco the donkey. Then Karissa declared she wants to be a farmer when she grows up. I'm not sure if she'll follow through on that dream. But I do know who she can call for patient and gentle advice if she ever does.
Tempted to book a stay? Read reviews and learn more about Leaping Lamb Farm on Trip Advisor.
Would you like to unplug and reconnect during a stay at Leaping Lamb Farm? Let us know in the comments below!
Even if you can't visit, you can share a little slice of this sweet farm with your children with Scottie's book, Paco the Dusty Donkey.
A Note from The Travel Mama: My family paid a media rate to stay at Leaping Lamb Farm. This story includes affiliate links. All opinions are mine, as always.