Author: larenleland

bumble bee houses

There are lots of bumble bee queens looking around for a place to call home right now. Why not try to create a home they may like? I’ve read that, statistically, for people who study this sort of thing bumble bees only use about 30% of the homes humans try to make. Well, then I better make more than one!

I learned some tips from this video by David Goulsom, founder of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust.

In nature, bumble bees often build nests in abandoned mammal holes. To approximate the insulation scientists say they like, I used dryer lint. (I haven’t bought any new clothes lately, so hopefully my lint isn’t toxic. I also wear natural clothes and organic when possible, but that’s surely something to think about. Don’t use your dryer lint if you use fabric softener!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did three different designs in a sunny spot (the featured image above.) One is ground level, two are dug down into the ground. I also built one in to a shaded hillside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know yet if the queens will choose to live in these spots, but I thought I’d share how to do it in case you’d like to build your own.

Now is the time!

This queen spent quite a bit of time drinking from the flower I placed by the front door, retreating into the house , and then coming back to drink more! I hope she makes it her new nest — time will tell.

queen bees!

This is the time of year when the young queen bumble bees leave hibernation to stock up on food and then establish a new nest. Here are some photos of the queens I’ve seen on the farm… most of them are yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) which are very camera friendly. The last photo is a different, unidentified species who usually fly away very quickly!

This post also highlights the need to have early forage available! Crocus and pieris japonica attracted the most I’ve seen this year. Daffodil, sweet box, red-flowering currant, and my plum trees have also had some visitors.

 

Not as pretty, since she’s not in a flower… but it’s the only photo I have been able to get of a different species. These queens are camera-shy.

 

 

composting with live worms!

The first time I heard about composting with worms… I wasn’t interested. At all. But things change!

One of the reasons my mind changed, is that I read a great book about worms. It’s called the Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms.

The author has such a sweet way of engaging with worms, she really seems to love them, and her fascination rubbed off on me. The book is chock full of amazing worm stories.

Plus, worm castings are amazing fertilizer.

So, I got to researching and ended up installing a worm bin!

Happy little worm bin

I learned the most useful information from this video that explains how to do it in detail.

One tricky part was finding an appropriate place to keep them. They are not cold-hardy and they can also die from heat in the summer. Basically, they need to be in the house. Worms… in the house…?! I ended up finding a spot in the enclosed back porch. It’s part of the house, but feels a bit removed. They’ll be safely tucked away from temperature extremes and it’ll be easy to get them kitchen scraps.

If you are wondering what red wrigglers can eat… here’s a helpful graphic.

After researching options, I ordered my worms from a company called Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. Here’s the bag I received in the mail… and the worms before I covered them with wet newspaper in the bin. Very excited to see how these little creatures grow and change!

mole hills to bee buffets!

Do you have lots of mole hills in your lawn? Don’t despair! They could be the perfect way to introduce bee-friendly flowers.

Lawns that are a mixture of grass and flowering plants that are short enough to be mow-able are a great way to contribute to pollinator forage. There are commercial mixes available, such as this (untreated, bee-safe) version from American Meadows.

I just purchased one pound of organic white clover and walked my entire property, seeding every mole hill I encountered. Over time I’ll probably add other flowers too. I’ll post an update once they get growing!

free camping!

I just took a road trip from Oregon to New Mexico and back! In decompressing from the trip, I wanted to share resources with you all.

I’ve long romanticized about how fun it would be to get plugged into the free camping network, so on this trip we gave it a try!

We primarily used two web sites. Campendium (which has a great app) and FreeCampsites.net which is a bit more rudimentary and tends to include more unoffical information, which can be great in a pinch.

At first, I was quite nervous about parking in free spots to camp, but we made sure to know the laws in the states we were traveling in and it went great. For example, in Oregon and California it’s legal to sleep in your vehicle for up to 8 hours in rest stops. It changes drastically state by state: New Mexico allows 24 hours.

Overall, I would say try to head for unincorporated land over rest stops, but that’s my personal preference.

Our favorite free camping spot was Loy Butte Road west of Sedona. The photo above is the view we had there. Beautiful.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

permaculture

One of the reasons we’re really excited to have all the space on the farm is so we can practice permaculture techniques. Permaculture is defined in many ways by different people, but generally it is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. (According to google’s dictionary.)

Here’s one of our recent projects, covering grass with cardboard and compost. This is a gentle way to convert grass into perennial beds without the use of herbicide.

We also grew our veggies in a hugelkulture bed this year, which is another permaculture practice. Basically, you bury wood under a pile of soil and plant into. The idea is that the wood will hold water and break down over time, giving nutrients to the soil. Our plants loved it!

If you’d like to learn more, check out some of my all time favorite permaculture books.

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small-Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening

Solviva: How to grow $500,000 on one acre, and Peace on Earth

The Bio-Integrated Farm: A Revolutionary Permaculture-Based System Using Greenhouses, Ponds, Compost Piles, Aquaponics, Chickens, and More

Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

solar at Advantage!

I’m so happy to announce that Advantage Real Estate is now running on solar!

While I’m at it, here’s my office. Please come by sometime to chat about real estate.

You can find Advantage Real Estate at 205 E Olive St in Newport, Oregon.

Native Bee Conservation resources

Click here to download my full Powerpoint presentation in PDF format.

Organizations

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international non-profit organization that protects wild life through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.

Pollinator Partnership is a 501(c)3 organization and the largest in the world dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems.

Pollinator Restoration Project: Central Oregon Coast is the citizen group helping to restore the pollinator habitat of the Highway 101 corridor from Yachats to Newport.

Blossomwood Farmstead is our local Yachats native bee sanctuary.

Books

The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph S. Wilson

Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton Field Guides) by Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorpe, Leif L. Richardson, and Sheila R. Colla

Nectar and Pollen Plants of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Dictionary of Plants Used by Honey Bees by D. M. Burgett, L. D. Johnston, B. A. Stringer

Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees by Lori Weidenhammer

100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive by the Xerces Society

Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat by the Xerces Society

A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm by Dave Goulson

A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees by Dave Goulson

Helpful PDF

Bumble Bees of the Western United States from the Forest Service

Help track bumble bees

Bumble Bee Watch

Report native bee sightings (and other species) in the Cape Perpetua area

iNaturalist Cape Perpetua bioblitz

 

Newport News-Times article

My new brokerage printed an article announcing that I joined their company! Here’s the full text…

Advantage Real Estate in Newport is happy to welcome Laren Leland to the team. She brings three years of experience as a broker in Portland.

Leland just recently relocated to the area with her partner in order to spend more time at her family’s farm. Blossomwood Farmstead is located seven miles up Yachats River Road. Together, they are creating a bee sanctuary and permaculture learning garden.

Leland strongly believes in being stewards of the environment in all areas of life. This starts at home with energy efficient upgrades, using sustainable materials, planting pollinator gardens, and installing native landscaping. She is an Earth Advantage Certified Broker and a OSU Master Gardener and can connect people to resources that take these considerations into account.

In addition to working as a broker, she also personally invests in and manages various estates as part of her family’s business. This gives her ongoing practical experience with a wide range of activities, in everything from preparing properties for sale, updating homes for renters, and setting up properties for Airbnb.

Leland is an active supporter of the LGBTQI+ community, wholeheartedly embracing her fellow members by organizing and participating in community events and organizations.

Leland’s professional background is in graphic design and her Master’s Degrees are in Intermedia Art. She spends any free time she can find writing and creating.

She is also looking forward to becoming part of the coastal community. Check out her web site for updates on the farm, real estate posts, and fun projects. You can find it at: larenleland.com.

Leland can be reached via text or phone at 503.883.1511. Advantage Real Estate is located at 205 E Olive St in Newport.

 

Flood Insurance information

At the quarterly meeting of the Lincoln County Board of Realtors, we had the chance to listen to a great presentation by Christine Shirley about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP.)

Flooding concerns are a very timely subject, taking into account the hurricanes and general uptick in extreme weather. In fact, “flooding is the most prevalent and costly natural hazard in Oregon, and a component in 90% of the nation’s disasters.”

For someone considering buying a property in a flood zone, it’s incredibly important note that in order to finance the purchase with a loan, flood insurance will be required. There are quite a few factors that can influence the price of that insurance. It’s pretty safe to say that over time the price of flood insurance will continue to rise.

One huge takeaway from the presentation is that flood insurance is always transferable from the current owner to the new one. In cases of grandfathered zones and subsidized policies, this can make a huge difference in price.

Another good point is that you only need flood insurance to cover the value of the buildings being insured (not including the value of the land.) Shirley mentioned that many properties are over-insured because they are based on the price of the mortgage.

If your property is not in an official flood zone, but you have reason to worry about a flood, you can still obtain a “preferred risk” policy, which is often cheaper than the policies for flood zone properties.

Obtaining an elevation certificate is critical for figuring out how much flood insurance will be for a given property. These certificates are not maintained by any outside organizations, so the homeowner needs to make sure to retain them.

For more information about FEMA flood zones, check out https://msc.fema.gov

If you are considering purchasing or selling a property in a flood zone, I’d love to talk to you about all the aspects you should consider!