Our Project: Fifty Acres



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Our big family project is contained in fifty acres of cedar forest in Northern Michigan–and just outside our local city limits.  The ground is almost pure rock–the forest is actually perched on the bodies of previous trees, creating hillocks and very shallow root structures.  The front 13 acres has a little more soil, but not much.  Mike tilled open meadow there, and found about 1.5 inches of soil between each flat shale stone.  We have lots of limestone, too, which will make planting anything kind of difficult.  At this point, I think we’ll frost-seed clover in the early spring, and pick stones to make raised bed areas that will hold in dirt that we’ll have to bring in.  Next year, we’d like to get in sunflowers and several rows of corn in those beds.

We’ve been freeing up apple trees in the property up-front, 23 of them by last count.  We have speculated that perhaps this whole area was once an apple orchard–nearby properties have lots of very old trees.  In the spring, we’ll be trimming them while they are still dormant and use Triple 19 at their bases to help boost them back into production.

The back yard will be graced with cedar-log raised bed gardens, a labyrinth and gazebo, and a zen garden.  My kennel is going up in the garage (my parents laugh about that because who turns a great car garage into a giant dog house in an area with so much winter-time snow?!  ME!) We are raising North American Retrievers–more about these great dogs will come with another blog! Fun with pouring cement for the kennels, etc–you are sure to laugh at our learning process.

Yesterday, we ambled about an hour away and found a used dog kennel for sale (usually $300, and we got it for $100).  This particular find will become our chicken run, once we attach it to the coop and patch up a few little holes with new chicken wire.  The kennel was moved whole, on a trailer while we sang “Green Acres is the place to be…”  Too funny.

Some of the bird feeders are up and we are already seeing chickadees, nuthatches, thrashers, blue jays, hummingbirds, black squirrels, pine squirrels, 13 striped ground squirrels and rabbits.

Oh, yeah.  Rabbits.  We have two litters, three breeding does and one buck.  I chose Rex-New Zealand crosses to have less fur to deal with during butchering.  I opened one nest box and one lovely blue rabbit-ling fell out…and ran like crazy into our very tangled woods.  If he/she survives, we may have some very interesting wild rabbit colors in the future.  Sigh. At least they don’t look like baby rats anymore! HA!

We currently boast six adult hens and a lovely rooster we call Cabrera (For Miguel Cabrera osf Tiger Baseball fame).  He’s very well behaved and takes good care of his hens. We also have nine chicks that look like Black Austrolorp/Barred Rock crosses.  They are fully fledged now, and we’ll add the hens to our flock once they have some size to them.  The cockerels, well, lets just say like the taste of slow cooker chicken!



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