Category: blog

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 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!


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.


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.


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


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

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!

butterfly exhibits

I post about bees more often since they are my personal area of highest interest, but butterflies are of course quite important pollinators too. We seek to conserve them as well and many join the bees in drinking nectar from the plants on our farm.

I recently took a road trip and had the great fortune to visit three different butterfly exhibits.

These gardens and exhibits were quite inspirational! It helped me zero in on how we might be able to help local butterflies as our project takes shape.

Humbolt Botanical Garden butterfly house

They just started their butterfly project this year by catching butterflies in the garden and bringing them into a section of the greenhouse. (Although they also ordered Monarch eggs.)

Above you can see a Red Admiral on a Mexican Sunflower.

They had host plants available as well, with a lot of caterpillars! This is a Monarch caterpillar munching on milkweed.

Hallberg Butterfly Garden, Sebastapol, California

The oldest butterfly garden in the US! They are going through some changes now, since the woman who started it just recently passed away. Certainly worth a visit. Make sure to contact them ahead of time for a tour.

Here are caterpillars from the Pipevine Swallowtail.

And a chrysalis from the same species.

Here’s a caterpillar from a giant Polyphemus Moth.

Last, but not least we went to the California Academy of Sciences. Their project is a bit different, as they actually import exotic chrysalis’ from South America.

For more information about that, check out this sign.

This is a shot of their case of chrysalis’.

And some of the butterflies…



leafcutter bees!

We received our shipment of leafcutter bees today!

Leafcutter bees are solitary bees and great pollinators. Want to know more? Check out this page.

I bought these from

When I first opened the package, I saw the pheromone that is used to entice the bees to stay nearby. I set up the house and sprayed it on the nest tubes.

Next… the bag of cocoons, some of which had already hatched out!

I opened the bag and installed it above the nesting material. One little girl came out to say hi.

Here’s the view of the bee house, right on the edge of our garden — facing South to catch as many sun rays as possible.

chickens on the move!

Our chickens are no longer urban! We moved the four beauties out to be with us on our farm in Yachats. It was quite a process!

This was their coop and run in the backyard of our Portland house when it was newly built. (It’s got a huge jasmine plant overwhelming it now.) I bought the coop, then we built the run behind it.

Cute and functional! We didn’t want to move it because we may come back to Portland someday. Also, there’s a foot and a half of hardware cloth buried in the ground all along the perimeter, so that would be a mess to try to undo.

We have learned a few things since then and realized we wanted to buy a coop this time that we could stand up in from day one. I found a great option from some nice folks on Craigslist. We had to rent a U-haul trailer to get it our to the farm, but it was worth it!

We had a few weeks before the chickens were going to be moved to get it set up. We tried it out in a few places in the garden, but finally settled on a spot where they are shaded by the black walnut tree part of the day in the summer.) We installed it with one and a half feet of hardware cloth underground to help keep them safe from predators at night.

It’s a beautiful spot with a view of the pond and barn! (Which means we can also see them when we are in the barn.)

Last step, was to bring the chickens! They had a long ride, but seemed perfectly settled when we opened the box.

Seems like they love it!

(You can also see the chicken tractor behind the coop. We got that from a friend for putting them out in the field on occasion.)

But mostly I think they love how much protected space there is in our farm garden to free range!