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hit the hay at a farm stay


November 2014

Written by
Haley Shapley


Usually vacations are about getting away from work, but increasingly, people are choosing getaways that specifically involve working… on a farm, that is. Long popular in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, farm stays are picking up steam in the United States, especially for those looking to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty with manual labor and escape city life for a brief while. They’re also great for teaching kids where food really comes from. Trade your office for a field at these three West Coast working farms.

Farm photoleaping lamb farm stay

Alsea, Oregon

“Just being on a farm is good for the soul,” writes Scottie Jones, who owns Leaping Lamb with her husband, Greg. “And each person who stays on a farm helps support a cultural tradition that is under severe economic threat.”

The Joneses came to the Oregon Coast Range by way of Phoenix, swapping gridlocked streets for physical labor beyond what they’d imagined. After they realized how tough it is to make a living running a small farm, they decided to open their (barn) doors to guests, sharing the lifestyle they loved.

Those who want to work can find it by collecting eggs, feeding the animals (including bottle-feeding adorable lambs when there are “bottle babies” around), harvesting the garden and brushing Paco, a miniature Sicilian donkey. If relaxing’s more your speed, visit with the freely wandering chickens and horses, hike along the nearby trails, or just sit on the porch and take in the atmosphere with a good book in hand. 

The farm hosts only one group at a time, so you’ll get your own cottage, complete with two bedrooms, a full bath, a kitchen with eating area and a multilevel deck. But perhaps the best amenity? All that farm-fresh air.

Farm photorinconada dairy

Santa Margarita, California

In the coastal hills of San Luis Obispo County, Rinconada Dairy has grown from eight ewes and a ram in 1999 to 150 ewes and a herd of Nubian goats today. Along the way, their handcrafted cheese from raw sheep milk has drawn acclaim, particularly the flagship Pozo Tomme, rich and nutty and ideal for grating. 

Feed the animals, work in the organic garden, milk the sheep (the lactating season runs from spring to fall) and learn how to make cheeses that please when spending the night at the farm. Accommodations include the Fiesta Room in the hacienda-style ranch house or an apartment in the barn. In your spare time, there are 92 acres ripe for exploring, filled with surprises including bedrock mortars (also known as Indian grinding holes) and petroglyphs. 

Farm photopaca pride  guest ranch

Granite Falls, Washington

Reconnect with nature and hang out with some curiously cute alpacas at Paca Pride in Snohomish County. Located on Mountain Loop Highway with views of Mt. Pilchuck, the farm is surrounded by an abundance of outdoor opportunities, with alpine lakes, old railroad tunnels and soaring panoramas along the hiking routes.

Choose the accommodation option that best suits you, from a wood-paneled guest room in the main home to a round yurt in the woods, to tent camping, either on the grass or a covered platform. In addition to the alpacas, turkeys and chickens roam the property.

After your stay here, you’ll go home rested and refreshed, and perhaps with some supersoft clothing made from the fleece of your new friends: think socks, hats, scarves and more.

find the farms

If you’re looking for more ideas on places to stay, visit

Leaping Lamb Farm Stay
20368 Honey Grove Road
Alsea, OR 97324

Paca Pride Guest Ranch
28311 Mountain Loop Highway 
Granite Falls, WA 98252

Rinconada Dairy
4680 West Pozo Road
Santa Margarita, CA 93453 

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