A Michigan Homestead

About Us
Our familiy is a small one, consisting of me, my husband and our daughter. It also includes some non-human members. Because our dog Trailblazer (Blaze for short) lives in the house with us, we'll describe her here. She's 3/4 labrador with the rest being husky and perhaps a smidge of Dalmatian. She's an excellent farm dog, keeping vermin, stray cats and other wild life off our property. She protects the chickens (and gets chased by them occasionally!) and enjoys her job patrolling.
Our spread is small, about 5 acres, but make use of it. We have chickens, a vegetable garden, a fruit orchard, a large spring-fed pond and a mix of hardwood and evergreen trees. We live within sight of the Rifle River in Northeastern Michigan, one of the cleanest rivers in the state.

We get out eggs from Golden Comet and Black Star hens. At one point, we owned heritage breeds the barred Plymouth Rock and dominiques, the oldest American breed. In 2010, we added 4 cochin pullets to our flock in addition to the partridge cochin rooster that we already had. We will hopefully have chicks next spring. We also have an Easter Egger rooster named Twinkie. We will also allow some of his offspring to hatch to see what they will be.

Because we live in a heavily wooded area, our garden is comparatively small. There are only a few places that receive enough sunlight to make a garden worthwhile. We do have a 20' x 15' vegetable garden where we grow Spanish Sweet amd Red onions, cabbage, California Wonder green peppers, Danvers carrots, Roma and Better Boy tomatoes, Poinsett 76 and National Pickling cucumbers, sunflowers, Red Pontiac and Kennebec potatoes, Mucho Nacho peppers and four types of blueberries. Most of what we grow is open-pollinated so we can save the seeds of what we have. The chickens and horses contribut fertilizer and only the blueberries for a short amount of time received any non-organic fertilizer. Because of the proximity to the pond, we cannot use chemical fertilizers. We can or dehydrate much of the leftover harvest. Garden has recently been expanded and next year should bring garden dimensions to 40 x 15.
We also have a perennial/hummingbird/butterfly garden with butterfly weed, butterfly bushes, hollyhocks, purple coneflowers, marigolds, nasturtiums, bee balm, forsythia and a lilac bush.

The orchard is a relatively new development and one with several setbacks so far. Again, lack of full sunlight proves frustrating, as do the ubiquitous deer. Last year, one of our Red Delicious was devoured. With the addition of fences, we are not having this problem. In spring of 2010, we added two more cherry trees, a golden delicious apple tree and two hazelnut trees. Next year we hope to add a few spy apple trees.
Larger is not always better. Simplicity in its purest form, we reside in a 700 sq ft. cabin. Constructed by my husband and his father, it consists of 2 x 6 construction with some walls bearing a fieldstone facade. Our appliances are high efficiency and the walls well-insulated so we use minimal electricty and heat. We also have wonderful views of our forest and pond.

Party Party (AA Apollo Bey x Parkways Society Gal) is a double-registered Half-Arabian/National Show Horse Mare. "Izzie" as we call her has an impressive competition record. She was shown on the Michigan Hunter/Jumper Circuit before I bought her. Then she began a long, lucrative career in competitive trail in UMECRA sanctioned competition. She has 650 miles, many first places and a Region XIII Champion title. This year, Party Party was 3rd in Lightweight Restricted Mileage for Great Lakes Distance Riding Association, 5th in Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Rides Association (out of 61 horses from 6 different states) and High-Point Half-Arabian for the state of Michigan. At 18, she's still going strong!

A clear spring fed pond graces our property. Home to perch, goldfish, minnows & frogs, it also is frequented by our songbirds, kingfishers, osprey and an occasional Bald Eagle. The pond provides water for the garden and chickens during dry spells. Despite our pond, the presence of natural predators keep the number of insects down. It is quite amusing in the summertime to see bats hovering over the surface of the pond, taking in mouthfuls of mosquitoes.

About 2/3 of our property is wooded, half of that upland forest and the other half swamp. Eastern white cedars thrive in the swamp with some balsam fir scattered throughout. On the well-drained ground, we have huge white pines, red hemlocks, balsam firs, oaks, white ash and poplars. Our forest also provides some wild berries such as strawberries, raspberries, barberries and elderberries. We also have one wild apple tree on our road frontage. A few natural springs flow from our hillside into our swamp.