River’s Blessings (riversblessings.com) is currently a small sheep farm located between Bandon and Coquille on the south Oregon coast. The goal of the farm is to build an operation that combines rotational grazing of livestock, a market garden, fruit trees, a fiber mill, and a dairy/cheesemaking operation to provide a livelihood for a community of people passionate about regenerative agriculture. Ultimately, the owner wants the farm to be a place where others can come to learn regenerative small-scale farming practices.
What the farm has to offer:
The farm is currently composed of two adjoining properties with a total of 170 acres. There are 65 acres of river-bottom pasture along the Coquille River and another 25 acres on higher ground. The remainder is in fir and cedar forest.
Water: The houses get water from wells. The rest of the farm is watered by the gravity-fed system supplied by a year-round stream, with active water rights. There are currently no water rights to the Coquille river for irrigation of crops or pasture. There are multiple large water tanks used to collect rain water from barn roofs. There are two 50,000 gallon water bladders available, not yet deployed, for holding the large quantity of water needed for summer market gardens.
The owner has invested extensively in infrastructure. The pastures are fenced, with some cross-fencing; more needed. There is a gravity-fed system of water lines in the pastures to water livestock. The farm has two houses on site and a third larger house is being renovated in nearby Coquille. There are two larger barns with hay lofts and two smaller barns for livestock, a shearing shed and sheep-handling system, a combination milking parlor/creamery (unfinished) with solar panels and a battery bank, a woodworking shop, and a functioning fiber mill for processing wool.
There is a 30 x 90 hoop house that currently houses a flock of 150 laying hens, and two mobile chicken tractors (which need some modifications). Other livestock includes about 100 Icelandic sheep ewes and this year’s lambs (~50), about 30 rams fattening for the butcher, a small herd (about 15) of mostly Scottish Highland cattle, and a few dozen Muscovy ducks and guinea hens. The sheep flock is protected by 3 Maremma livestock guard dogs.
The farm has 3 tractors in varying states of repair, an assortment of implements, a BCS walk-behind tractor with attachments, a skid-steer with several attachments, a heavy-duty farm truck, a lighter-duty farm truck, a fire/water truck, an 18′ Wilson stock trailer, and a flat-bed trailer.
What the owner is looking for:
For health reasons, the owner must maintain her full-time job and cannot dedicate as much time to operating and developing the farm as she would like. She is looking for people who are interested in a long-term (perhaps permanent) partnership to develop a shared vision. She needs farmers who want to become part of the community, who are enthusiastic about regenerative and small-scale farming, people who are interested in constantly learning and will invest the time and hard work to build a successful farm. Potential partners will have some experience in market-gardening, pasture and livestock management, and/or the wide variety of farm-related tasks such as equipment maintenance, construction, woodworking, and marketing products through farmers markets, online, or other means. The ultimate goal is to share what we’ve learned here via an intern program as well as shorter-term classes.
In her words, “I intend to still be here 30 years from now, but whether I am here or not I want River’s Blessings to be a place that nourishes the earth, the animals, and the people it touches. The vision is to experiment, learn, teach, and to make a bit of a profit.
“In the vision, there’s someone running the fiber mill, someone running market gardens, someone managing animals in a way that enriches the soil and creates product, possibly a dairy and cheese-making, and someone focusing on infrastructure. It’s a team of people who respect and can work with each other, who can cover for each other when time off is needed, and who can share knowledge with interns / students in the areas they are most comfortable with.
“This team becomes River’s Blessings. Ideally, I will live long enough that when I croak, this team is in place and working well together, and River’s Blessings can continue to function.”
She is offering a partnership which will eventually transition into ownership by people who will be committed to improving the land while providing for their families and community, and sharing the knowledge with future farmers seeking experience.
There is one partner on board, running the fiber mill.
Get people on the land who want to farm, share the vision of a regenerative agriculture center, andhave some level of the needed skills for managing and caring for the animals and infrastructure, willing to learn and able to teach. Refurbish the infrastructure and equipment. Get things organized. Get back to managing the three groups of animals across the pastures via rotational grazing practices. Start marketing lamb, beef, and eggs. Re-start the market gardens and garden greenhouse.
A diverse, balanced farm that uses regenerative practices to improve the soil and maintain the health of crops, animals, and people. A small core group of people who respect each other, work well together, and cover for each other when time off is needed. A home and livelihood for this core group of families working the farm. A place where others can come to learn regenerative agriculture.
Currently grazing sheep and cattle, and moving hen houses through the pastures for parasite control.
There are water rights for personal and animal consumption, but no water rights for market gardens. There is a gravity-fed water system to water livestock. We are catching water from most rooftops for the market garden and the fiber mill; we need to set up collection into our larger water bladders (two water bladders, 100,000 gallons of capacity total) for storage and use in the summer for the market gardens.
Mostly Coquille silt loam in the river-bottom pastures.
2 houses on site with water, electricity, internet, etc. 2 main barns with hay lofts. One barn has an attached shearing shed/multi-purpose room and sheep handling system. One house has an attached milking parlor/creamery (unfinished) with loafing area for sheep. A working fiber mill for processing wool, with a greenhouse being set up to hold an active "reedbed" system to cleanse water for re-use in the fiber mill. 30x90 hoop house, two mobile hen houses,
3 tractors (2 large, 1 smaller) all need work. Brush hog, hay mower, various other implements, BCS walk-behind tractor and attachments, skid-steer and attachments, wood-working shop, farm trucks, stock and flat-bed trailers, a variety of hand and power tools.
There are no existing water rights for irrigation of crops for market. This can be solved by completing the rainwater harvesting infrastructure, exploring establishing a pond for large-scale aquaponics, other imaginative means.
From its founding, River's Blessings has welcomed people of all backgrounds. The goal is to nurture people by nurturing the land. A healthy, compassionate community is vital to a successful farm.
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