Category: Blossomwood

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!

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June blooms!

What is blooming for pollinators at Blossomwood Farmstead in June? Here’s a huge list, though I may have missed some!

Bird’s foot trefoil. Lotus corniculatus. Origin: Eurasia and Northern Africa. Often used in wildflower seed packets. Invasive weed in North America. Bumbles love it!

Borage. Borago officinalis. Origin: Europe. Edible herb. I’ve heard that it releases new nectar every 45 minutes!

Blackberry. Rubus. If I remember correctly, this is our native, crawling blackberry plant. We also have invasive Armenian Blackberry. The bees love both!

Climbing rose. Rosa multiflora. Orgin: Asia. Planted in the US originally for soil conservation, it is now considered invasive. Although I am not happy it is climbing our trees, the bees absolutely adore it!

Clover. Trifolium sp. Naturalized, originally from Eurasia. Usually classified as a weed when it occurs in grass, bees love clover! (There’s a bumble right in the center of this image below.)

Dandelion. Taraxacum. Actually, this is a false dandelion, (Hypochaeris radicata) but we have both blooming in June! Origin: Europe. Naturalized. Commonly regarded as weeds, loved by bees.

Daphne. Daphne. Depending on species, native to Europe, Asia, or North Africa. Very fragrant!

Foxglove. Digitalis. European origin, but naturalized here very thoroughly. I’ve seen bumblebees visit foxglove, but not super often on our Farmstead.

Lavendar. Lavandula. Origin: Europe.

Red hot poker. Kniphofia. Origin: Africa. Favored by bees and humming birds.

Thimbleberry. Rubus parviflorus. Native! Delicious wild raspberries later in the season.

Queen Anne’s Lace. Also known as wild carrot. Daucus carota. Origin: Eurasia. Naturalized in the US.

Rose. Rosa. (We have a few different varities.) According to Wikipedia, “Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and northwestern Africa.” Many cultivars are not visited by pollinators a great deal compared to other great bee plants, but sometimes they are for sure.

Penstemon. Penstemon. Native to North America and Eurasia. Favored by humming birds.

Sage. Salvia officinalis. European. Kitchen herb and favorite of pollinators.

Snowbell. Styrax japonicus. Japanese origin. Loaded with pollinators and very fragrant!

Wild lilac. Ceanothus. Native! One of my favorites, and the bees too!

Yarrow. Achillea millefolium. Origin: Eurasia. The first photo is a cultivar, the second is a naturalized common yarrow with white blooms. I see flies on these more than bees — flies are pollinators too!

Yellow flag iris. Iris pseudacorus. Origin: Eurasia. Considered invasive. Pollinated by bumble bees and long-tongued flies. (I haven’t ever personally witnessed a visit by a bumble bee, but there are ants below.)

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Blossomwood Farmstead links

Welcome to Blossomwood Farmstead’s web site!

Our farm is a 42 acre bee sanctuary; we follow organic practices and we’re adding bee forage plants to support the native pollinators. Twelve acres consists of pasture and grass, thirty two acres are forested.

The original homestead farm house was built in 1916.

We have two Airbnb’s on the farm!

Bee Sanctuary Farm House sleeps two to six people.

Bee Sanctuary Garden Guest House sleeps two.

Bee Sanctuary Garden Guest House

Now you can stay at Blossomwood Farmstead! Our guest house is up on Airbnb. It sleeps two, so it’s the perfect get-a-way.

Here is inside the guest house.

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Your view from the porch.

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The river!

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Official description:

This is a small guest house on a 42 acre farm property on Yachats River Rd. We are seven miles from the beach and town of Yachats. Our farm is called Blossomwood Farmstead. It is truly a retreat.

The guest house has one bedroom, one bathroom, and living room space with kitchenette. Enjoy relaxing on the front porch!

This farm is a bee sanctuary, which means that we use organic methods when possible and do not use pesticides. We will be continuously adding forage to support pollinators.

Click here to see the listing on Airbnb!

farmhouse project update

The old farmhouse is getting fixed up! The project is about 2/3rd done. Take a look at the progress!

The featured image above shows the new polycarbonate on the porch and roof on the house.

The inside is still quite under construction, but still exciting to see all the new light coming in bigger windows, new skylights, and french doors!

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And we can now see the trees through the carport roof!

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no more cedar shakes!

Out at Blossomwood Farmstead we are having a big renovation project done. First step — goodbye to the cedar shake roof. We would have been happy to keep it… but check out the photos of its condition. It was practically a living roof, and not the intentional kind!

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Another issue with the house was how dark the front porch and carport were. Shade is lovely in the summer for the rare days when it is really hot, but near the coast over 90% of the time sunlight is much more welcome. In addition, our inspection report had mentioned that the roof on the carport should be replaced because the angle was too shallow for cedar shake. We will have it replaced with polycarbonate. Here’s the before.

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These support beams under the porch roof (painted white here) were originally forest green, so it was even darker than the photo below shows.

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Here’s the progress… roof removed and tar paper up in preparation for a new metal roof. I can’t even tell you how lovely it is to have so much light on the porch!

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And here is the car port with most of the roof removed. So nice to see the trees from under there!

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Keep an eye out for more updates as the project progresses! Next phases: polycarbonate, skylights, new windows, and metal roof!

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pollinator garden

We put a small pollinator garden in at Blossomwood Farmstead this weekend!

Here’s the hill before, with our chosen perennials placed where we wanted to plant them. We wanted things that would be relatively self-sufficient and not need a lot of watering once established. We planted penstemon, pincushion flower, red hot poker, yarrow, breadseed poppy, cosmos, valerian, and lavender. There was already ceanothus, a yellow red hot poker, and rose cambion.

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Getting all the grass and weeds out was the most labor intensive part. It looked like a bit of a mess during the process.

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Here it is with all the sod gone, ready to be planted, before the mulch.

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Here it is all finished!

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It looks a bit sparse now, but there is room for everything to grow and fill in. Can’t wait to see it in a couple years. We have already seen quite a number of bumble bees, humming birds, two butterfly species, and some small native bees as well. It’s amazing how fast they all find new flowers.

Refinishing hardwood

There’s an old 1916 farm house on Blossomwood Farmstead. When we purchased it there was unfortunate 70’s wood click-together flooring upstairs in two rooms. There was also, a plywood platform for a king bed in a room that was much too small for it. The third room had grey painted fir sub-floor. (There are additional issues to address — the walls need paint, lack of light/view, no egress windows, etc… but this post is just about the floors.)

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We started the project by pulling up the 70’s squares and plywood platform… we were not positive what we would find below, but we hoped it would all be fir sub-floor like the third room.

IMG_2314Looking good! So we decided to carry on and remove all the wood tiles, then refinish the floor.

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IMG_2328There was a layer of paper, which was nice, because look at all that dirt it had collected. What would be under the paper?

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Painted wood floor. And… sadly, plywood filler. Here’s the whole floor once we had everything up.

IMG_2337We realized that we would have to find some old fir flooring to match. We sourced it at Aurora Mills, which is a great architectural salvage operation. Here are the boards we picked out.

IMG_2520 IMG_2522Back at the farm our caretaker went to work sanding the floor. She also tore out the plywood and replaced it with the fir we got her. Cedar (my partner) helped too. What a job! Check out the difference between the sanded portion and the dark old floor.

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We did some research and decided to go with OSMO to finish it. AND… drum roll please … the finished floors? Gorgeous!

IMG_3107 IMG_3111Before/after of the same room. (Different times of day, but you get the idea!)

before_afterIt’s hard to believe they are the same floors we started with! There are quite a few more projects to come, but we are really happy to have started from the ground up.

what do you plant for a bee sanctuary?

I have been so pleasantly surprised every time I dig a hole for a tree on this land. I’ve heard the term “fertile river valley,” before — but never experienced it to this degree! The soil is gorgeous.

Since part of this adventure is a hope to share what we learn, I wanted to post about what we have planting on the farm in our past three months of stewardship. The season is right for planting trees now, so we are trying to get the year’s plantings in now. I’ve also included our wish list for the future.

Pictured above is our peach tree of the Frost variety. In speaking with neighbors we learned that was the best variety for the region. (Some said the only one that would give us peaches.) Fruit trees are generally a great bet for bees. Others we have planted include: crabapple, two plums, and quince. There were already four old apple trees, so I gave those a good pruning.

 

IMG_2613-1Above is a photo of heather. Two days after we planted it there were 5-7 bumble bees on each of three plants! In the bushy category we have also added three ceanothus plants, lavender, red osier dogwood, Indian plum, daphne, and flowering currant.

Here’s the flowering currant, right by the bridge to welcome visitors.

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I also chose that general location for the magnolia, so that at the first of the season we’ll have a burst of colorful blooms right at the entrance.

As far as flowering trees goes, I did a previous post about the Arbor Day Foundation, where you can buy very affordable seedlings. Of course, this is an exercise in patience since it will take years (decades) for them to grow into large trees. We have ordered, Northern Catalpa (2), Sourwood, Red maple (free with order,) Washington Hawthorn, Tulip Poplar, Forsynthia (2 free with order), Little Leaf Linden, Witchhazel, Black Tupelo, Sugar Maple, and Eastern Redbud. These are all spectacular bee forage trees. I encourage you to research them all. Gorgeous trees.

I’ve also ordered some willow. Most willows are great food for bees. I have a pink pussy willow known as Mt. Aso coming, as well as a curly willow and a basketmaking purpuera. The purpuera is also good for creating living willow structures, which I am excited to try out!

Last, but not least, we have some things started in the veggie garden. For the bees we have borage, poppies, and echinacea. For us we’ve put in an asparagus patch, ginger, and tumeric. Much more to come!

One challenging aspect that we are not very familiar with is how wildlife (including quite a large herd of elk!) will impact what we plant. We have caged the trees for their protection. We have a fence around the veggie garden, which we will fortify in time. We might build quite a bit more fencing than we have now… we will have to see how it goes. So far it seems that the elk avoid the areas near the house, but I have heard that can change pretty quickly.

Here’s some of our wish list for the future: (some for bee forage, some for perennial edibles)

More bee trees and bushes (with groves of like-species, but we’re starting with one of each to see how they do.) Japanese snowbell, winter jasmine, serviceberry, lilac, beautyberry, aralia, vitex.

Persimmon, pomegranate, paw paw, pear, hardy kiwi (I am rooting starts right now!) figs, grapes, rhubarb, artichoke, ramps, sea kale, sweet potato, ground nut, good king henry, lovage, french sorrel, plus every herb and medicinal plant we can find (with plans to build a formal herb garden.)

I’m sure more will get added… if you know of a great bee plant or perennial / self seeding non-invasive edible that would do well in Coastal Oregon, please let me know!

We love this land. Thank you for reading about our adventure!