In 2004, we purchased the original homestead near the Wildwood Falls. The homestead is a 151 acre piece that was settled by the Hunt family in the late 1800s located in Wildwood, Oregon. (The town of Wildwood merged with Culp Creek. When the Culp Creek post office closer, our area became part of Dorena.)
The property surrounds the north side of a local summer swimming hole, Wildwood Falls. We renamed the farm to “Wildwood Falls Ranch” to reflect this well-known landmark.
The previous owner of Wildwood Falls Ranch had lived on the property for 11 years. Pete Janelli raised many different animals on the farm from cattle to ostriches.
When we first visited the farm, the front pastures was filled with grazing sheep, and behind the farmhouse and in the back 40 acres were his racehorses. There were 5 stud horses in the area of the coop and barn. (photo right)
Our first step was to clean up the farm and contact the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.
The back 40 acres were blanketed in wild camomile – a daisy type flower. Quickly we realized that the soil quality in this area had been dramatically depleted by Pete’s earlier 80-head cattle herd. We also noticed strange small fungus or lichen in areas where old baling twine was left to decay. After doing research, we found that this twine contaminated the soil that if eaten ended up in the meat of grazing animals.
We dug up thousands of pieces of plastic baling twine that had been slowly leaching poisons into the soil. Once the offending twine and wild blackberry was cut down, we sub-divided the area into three pastures.
Our few horses wintered-over these fields. We fed them by tossing hay onto the wet earth. We moved the feeding areas systematically to cover the ground. The grass seeds that fell from the hay re-established a beautiful grass to these depleted fields.
We are happy to say that within a year, the back 40 recovered quickly (see below). The following image is of the same area taken from a different vantage point. You can see the quality of grasses that now grows as the soil continues to recover.