Guerin homesite, barn and pastures
In 1995, looking for a place to settle with pasture for livestock, we ventured up a road across from the Langlois Market: Langlois Mountain Road. Up and up we climbed, enjoying the views of the coastal plain, the Pacific Ocean, and pastures that would remind a Scotsman of the moors of home, with bands of sheep dotting the swaths of green. At random intervals, gravel roads led off to dwellings, mostly out of view.
No “For Sale” signs were posted to encourage our exploring, but on we pressed, enjoying the beauty and sense of isolation as the road narrowed to one lane at the 4-mile marker, location of the old Millard School. The road snaked along the contours of the promontory, then began to dip into narrow defiles, following the terrain and stream courses until it opened into a valley carrying the East Fork of Floras Creek.
And at 8.5 miles, there it was: acreage for sale with a small house and barn. The mature trees had been logged off recently, making the purchase price reasonable. During our next visit, we explored the property in heavy February rains, scrambling up the western fence line to the BLM parcel across the top and down the eastern slope, discovering enough open ground to sustain a few cows and horses (and eventually –goats). The vista was expansive from the top, offering views of Edson Butte with its fire lookout tower to the south and to the east, the ridge that separates the Floras Creek drainage from the streams leading to the Coquille River. The contiguous BLM 80 acre parcel to the north held old growth timber. Further exploration revealed a narrow ridgeline trail kept open by wildlife movement – and opportunity for human travel and exploration in the years to come.
We were sold. So we would be isolated on a parcel served by a road that made travel slow and sometimes dangerous, with heavy winter rains eroding it in sections. Pulling a stock trailer on the one-lane parts would be difficult at times. But we were not daunted.
We bought the place that winter, and Mike moved right in, while I drove from Eugene every weekend where I was still working. The labor of cleaning the property, preparing the house, and building fence seemed endless. That first summer gave me pause at times, especially after a full day of post hole digging, stretching wire, hammering my thumb instead of the nail head.
Blessedly, we had the horses for intervals of relief from the constant work.
View from upper pasture
The neighboring ranchers stopped by to introduce themselves those first months of our residence, offering their ranches to ride on after discovering I was Tom Guerin’s daughter and was raised on a cattle ranch. We were surrounded by Isenhart property with miles and miles to explore. And how delightful to discover that the creek just south of the East Fork of Floras is Guerin Creek, with Guerin Ridge alongside, named for an early settler, a son of William Guerin, my great grandfather’s brother.
Also, that first summer, Mike and I discovered that we could saddle up in our own barnlot and ride all the way to my pioneer cabin at Bone Camp in the Sixes River country, a long and sometimes difficult journey through the back hills. I felt such sweet satisfaction upon arriving on that first trek, then overwhelming joy with flowing tears as we dismounted our horses. It was the first of many rides into the cabin on those old trails.
In November of our first year at AM Farm, we rode to the cabin after an early morning duck hunt in our poke boats down on New River. Following the hunt, Mike dressed the ducks while I grabbed the horses and a few provisions and off we rode, gathering chanterelle mushrooms along the way on the 4 -5 hour journey. We baked the ducks in the wood fired oven and enjoyed a “living off the fat of the land” feast that evening, in the little cabin lit by kerosene lamps.