Tucked into a beautiful isolated north-south valley, on the western slope of the Coast range of southern Oregon, with a clear, clean river named Middle Creek running through, is our farm. 27 acres of lush pasture and 100 year old conifer forest, barns, and a home surrounded by productive and established orchard and gardens, the land sits a mile or so below a narrows in the canyon, where tall rock walls like sentinels stand above the road and river that head up east into what old timber is left in this part of these blue-green mountains that face the sea. To the west the hills rise and fall a couple of times before the mainstem Coquille river winds it’s way lazily to the surf some 25 miles distant. A winding, scenic 20 minute drive takes you to the old town and county seat of Coquille, and another 20 minutes lands you in the second largest port on the Oregon coast, the city of Coos Bay.
Weather here is mostly wet for the months of December-March, with temperatures ranging from the 30’s to 50’s, occasionally dipping into the 20’s…occasionally snowing…then, through April and May the rains begin to taper and the sunny spells increase to remind us of the amazing summer to come. As seems to be the case is most shorter summer climates, life seems to take on a certain urgency of beauty and celebration of itself. With the mercury hovering in the 80’s to 90’s commonly during the long lazy afternoons, the swimming hole is a welcome respite. Fall can stretch out into sweet, ripe days and lingering warm, scented evenings..with crisp, starry nights when the Milky Way is like a bright brushstroke of glitter across a deep blue-black sky. When the winter rains return they are a welcome relief to the dry land and ensure the continuing cycle of fertility and fecundity.
Since I moved my young family here in 1983, this place has been farmed organically. Raising Llamas, goats, ducks and chickens, as well as the occasional turkeys, has been an on-going part of farm life and death here. By amending and composting the clay-rich earth, along with ample spring and river water and long summer days, we have sustainably raised bumper crop after bumper crop of delicious vegetables and fruits over these many seasons. Greens and herbs are grown in the greenhouse nearly year round, and the garden starts are also seeded and raised there starting with the tomatoes and peppers in February. The lath house is where the starts are “hardened off” before their risky transplant to the cool spring soil..and exposure to the lurking late frosts. As the soil warms, an eager horde of various starts join direct seedings to fill the nearly half acre veggie garden with a continuously changing show of color and form that finishes with bounty and memories..filling the pantry, food storage room, freezers and happy bellies. Apples, pears, plums, peaches, cherries, and figs join in a steady flow of fruits to fill dehydraters, cider press, wine crocks and canning jars. Berries both wild and gardened, and grapes join in as harvest moons wax large.
This land has a very long history of bounty and human involvement, in fact, thousands of years. Every time I come across a primitive tool, or implement, while working this soil, I am reminded of the earlier stewards here. They harvested, used fire to manage, and met here to scrape hides, harvest Salmon, swap stories and genes. They took good care of their world here as it took good care of them. As was the case in most all of this western land, the coming of the whites marked the ending of an era..and a gradual, then gaining momentum, destructive change took place. As the most recent steward on this bit of paradise, I have considered it my inheritance to speak for all the inhabitants of this sacred place..and hold in my hearts eye a healing..a return to the ancient rhythms that created the real wealth that was here..for all.
When I first drove down what was then the driveway, through the woods and out onto the lower pasture here, I turned to my wife and said “This is it!” ..and it has been, since that mid-summer day. By 1990 we had undertaken a major remodel of the shack that was on the site…concluding with the addition of the dance/recording studio building. The timber-framed barn and equipment shed went up in that same period, and much garden expansion, fencing, treeplanting and landscaping was happening along with the construction. Though I divorced in 1996, with the help of the next strong women in my life, by ’05 the cobblestone walks and patios and rock-walled perennial flower gardens and orchard had been established around the house, and a bed and breakfast recording studio was open for business. Many musicians have enjoyed the creative, serene and natural atmosphere of the place..many family, friends and neighbors have enjoyed the place for it’s beauty and relaxation..and for great parties and events.