McAuley Alumnae Blog

McAuley High School, Toledo, Ohio

News about an alum – Pam Basilus ’73

Posted by mcauleyhighschool on June 2, 2012

Down on the farm

A bookkeeper lives the good life at her ‘Peaceful Sanctuary LLC’


The Register-Guard

Published: (Sunday, May 20, 2012 05:01AM)Midnight, May 20

SPRINGFIELD — It’s a tiny gem tucked against the outside edge of Springfield.

It’s an acre of land with huge shade trees, a cozy 1928 house, a barn for two alpacas and seven cashmere goats, flocks of laying hens and pullets, an incubator of baby chicks and a tiny rescue Chihuahua named Olivia, who wears an equally teeny turquoise sundress when she’s not dressed up in her itty-bitty University of Oregon T-shirt or one of her other party outfits.

Owner Pam Basilius calls the place just north of Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend her “microfarm,” and she delights in sharing it with others who want or need to experience a bit of rural life.

She also calls it “A Peaceful Sanctuary LLC,” because in addition to being home, it’s a way of bringing in extra money on top of her bookkeeping business to help keep her dream afloat.

She’s holding an open house today and Monday to share her love of her farm with the community.

“I want to make memories for kids that they won’t forget — helping with farm chores, collecting eggs, seeing baby chicks that just hatched and watching the goats and alpacas,” Basilius said. “I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, in the city, and I wanted a farm my entire life, ever since I was a little kid.”

Basilius, 57, stayed in Toledo 45 years without a farm, but as a substitute she grew a big garden and rescued stray dogs and cats. She came to Oregon 12 years ago on a whim after somebody told her about Eugene, re-established her bookkeeping service and bought her tiny farm. She started renting out her renovated two-bedroom bungalow as a “vacation rental by owner,” these days commonly known as a VRBO.

Entering the house, with its warmly colored walls and red-and-white kitchen, is like stepping into a way-back machine set for the 1930s. Both bedrooms have antique furniture, the bedsteads covered in cozy patchwork quilts. The floors are dark, wide planks and the dining table overlooks a yard filled with shrubs and flowers. Much of the art work, as well as some of the furniture, has been created by local crafts people.

The house comes “complete with everything,” Basilius said, from fresh-ground coffee to eggs laid by her own hens. When she rents out the house — “I probably spend only about a week a month in my own home,” she said — she bunks with a friend a few doors away.

Her guests have included the entire Austin, Texas-based Asylum Street Spankers band and comedian Dick Smothers of The Smothers Brothers fame. Smothers has rented Basilius’ house often enough while visiting his son in Eugene that the two have become close friends.

Despite its diminutive size and dollhouse-like perfection, the farm is hardly a plaything. Basilius designed her own henhouse, which features a row of nesting boxes that open to the outside for easy egg collection, as well as a slanted tile floor under the roosts that lets the chicken droppings roll down into a trough for easy disposal. The house also has a hens-only door that opens automatically at sunup and closes at dusk after the birds have gone in for the night.

She rents out her goats for weed and lawn control and plans to sell wool from Opus and Regalo, her recently acquired alpacas. “I also will sell their ‘poo’ to people who want it for their gardens, because it is special fertilizer,” she said. “Alpacas take 50 hours to process their food into pellets, so the manure is never ‘hot’ and can be put right on the garden. They’re amazingly eco-friendly animals.”

She sells organically produced eggs laid by her hens and also sells baby chicks and laying hens.

Her tidy homestead has become something of a tourist attraction for local Lane Transit District riders. “One day, the bus stopped at the corner, and I heard the driver say, ‘And to your right, see the alpacas and goats.’ I found that very amusing,” Basilius said.

The only cloud on Basilius’ horizon is the possibility that PeaceHealth, owner of the nearby medical center, still might try to acquire — through purchase or condemnation — her property and that of two of her neighbors to put a road through that connects International Way, at the front corner of Basilius’ property, and RiverBend Drive behind it.

The threat first arose 10 years ago and flared again in 2008. At that time, Springfield mayor Christine Lundberg, who won re-election this week to another term in office, said she believed “that there’s a satisfactory solution in every problem.”

For Basilius, that would ideally mean one of two options: drop the plan to build a new road altogether, leaving her microfarm as-is; or for PeaceHealth to move her house farther back on her property and augment it with adjacent land not needed for the road project.

“In 2008, they said they would make a decision in four years, and that’s about now,” Basilius said. “I hope they’ll just leave us alone. I love this little place and all I’ve done to make it what it is. I’m just so happy here.”

“I love this little place and all I’ve done to make it what it is. ”


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