Heavy Hardwood Corner

Top 5 Reasons Why Our Hens Have Made It Through the Winter

Backwoods BrandonThe winter in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan is long, cold and tiring. It’s rough on everybody, sure. But it’s even tougher on the critters that don’t have a leather recliner to snuggle into by the wood-fired stove. The winter of 2014 took the heaviest toll on the chickens of Heavy Hardwood Corner. They were plagued with sickness, causing six of them to pay the ultimate sacrifice over the course of the cold months. Egg production stopped. The chickens were no longer pulling their weight. They were barely hanging on, just trying to survive until the spring sun warmed up the chicken park again.

Happy Hen 

During the spring and summer of 2014, we vowed to make changes. We didn’t want the flock to have to fight through the cold months like they did during one of the harshest winters on record. We raised a batch of brand new laying hens throughout the summer months, and we headed into the winter of 2014-2015 with 10 hens, optimistic that they’d stay healthy and productive.

They did. It’s now March, and we still have 10 hens. Throughout February, the coldest month of the year, they pumped out seven to 10 eggs daily. Even when the temperatures dipped to 25 degrees below zero, the chickens produced. Even when the winds whipped through the woods at a blistering 30 mph, the chickens clucked in the coop with a smile across their beaks.

Here’s how we did it.

  1. We kept the coop dry. Making sure that moisture wasn’t bouncing about the hen house played a huge role in this winter’s survival rate. Last winter, we constantly struggled with a wet coop. This year, we had to make a point to clean it out more regularly. That meant removing soiled straw and scraping the floor. It meant opening it up to completely air out after cleanups. It meant more trips to town to keep fresh, dry straw on hand. In turn, it meant that the birds stayed healthy.

  2. We kept them safe from predators. A few of the six chickens we lost last year were preyed upon, both from the sky and the ground. In the summer of 2014, we built a new chicken park. We strung netting over the entire area to prevent airborne predators from snacking on our birds. We brought a second family dog to the woods to help run off coyotes, coons, weasels and other hungry critters. We incorporated part of our electric garden fence to deter night prowlers that the netting and mutts may have missed. In turn, we’re stuffed full of omelets and our neighbors are too.

  3. We were able to keep them healthy. Keeping the coop dry was a huge part of this. Last winter, every hen in the flock fell victim to vent gleet. This is a nasty condition where the chicken’s vent becomes puffy, red, irritated and very sore. It keeps them from laying eggs and if left unchecked, the infection can take over their bodies, eventually killing the chicken. After washing countless chicken butts and nursing the hens we had left back to health last year, we made sure that the bum butt syndrome couldn’t make its way back into the hen house this winter. This involved actively checking on the hens to makes sure they remained in good health with clean, fluffy butt feathers. The extra inspections proved to be worth it.

  4. We fed them layer pellets. Instead of picking up the regular old scratch grain mix from the farm town elevator, we went with their layer pellet feed. The layer pellets offered the chickens the nutrients they needed to keep laying eggs. During the warm months, they get all their good fixin’s from the bugs, grubs and greens they dig up during their free-range time. But during the winter, the birds are no match for the 2 to 3 feet of snow that sits on top of the frozen ground. We kept them fed well this winter, so they returned the favor with fresh eggs daily.

  5. We made sure they always had fresh water. This gets difficult at times during the coldest months of the year. When the temps dive into negative double digits, the water in the poultry drinker can start freezing before you make it back to the front porch. When the winter storms roll through, the last thing you want to do is water the hens for the third time in a very cold, dark day. But, we did. Once in the morning, once in the evening. The chickens gulped it up every time. It was easy to tell when the birds got thirsty, because they would hop out of the coop in the morning and start eating snow. We kept their thirst quenched, and because we did, they kept our egg cartons full.

Basket of Eggs

It’s only the beginning of March. I know we’re not in the clear yet. In fact, it was minus 23 degrees just three days ago when I chored the chickens in the morning. We have weeks until the April rains wash away the last of the snow and ice, bringing the chickens back out on the search for free-ranging forage once again. But we’ll stay the course, knowing what we’ve done this winter works.

If all goes well, the hens will stay the course too, living happily and healthily in the cold, providing us with a brand new batch of fresh eggs every day.

Garden Twine the Magnificent Multitasker

Backwoods BrandonNot every garden tool guzzles gas and puffs exhaust. Not every piece of equipment requires brute force and sweat for operation. Sometimes, the handiest tool that saves the most time and effort is as simple as a string. Garden twine, The Magnificent Multitasker, is the do-all, must-have piece of the garden tool pie. So maybe it doesn’t do everything. But, it can sure make things a lot easier and more enjoyable.

Twine Spool

I’m referring to any sort of string, rope or twine that can be used to complete a number of different tasks. These simple lengths of string can be pulled from the barn at any point from planning to harvest. When the brand new reel is rolled out, it can be wound back up onto a new makeshift spool to be used time and time again. It helps prepare the beds and support the plants. It lays out straight and holds the weight of ripe tomatoes. It lifts things up, it ties things down. Every gardener needs it. It is The Magnificent Multitasker.

While planning a new garden space, a good roll of twine is your best friend. It can be used to measure your distances and stake out your entire growing space before making any permanent commitments. It serves as a great visual aid that helps you see where you’re headed like a glimpse into the near future. This is very important. When you can see where you’re going, it’s easier to spot potential problems before you begin building. That fence line is too close to the maple’s roots, we have to move it back a few feet. The edge of the vegetable garden is too close to that cherry tree, we need to move it over a touch. There’s not enough room here for grape vines without shading the herbs, let’s rethink this a bit. There it is. That’s where we need to be. Let’s build it. Garden twine makes it possible.

When the plan is put into action, so is the string. With a handful of rocks and some string, you can build perfectly spaced and straight rows. Simply cut a length of twine long enough to span the length of your rows. Tie a rock to each end. Cut a second length of twine, just long enough to span the width between your rows. Tie a rock to each end. Lay the short string out to know exactly where your next row needs to be. Lay the long string out and plant beside it to make sure your rows stay straight. It’s that simple to have a functional and aesthetically pleasing layout.

Rows

A skinny white string is stronger than it may look. It’s got the power and longevity needed to trellis vining peas and support the heavy fruit of an August tomato plant. So many people purchase expensive metal trellises and supports, when they likely have the material lying around to do it with. With stakes and string, you can build a simple trellis that allows your peas to vine straight toward the sun, where they want to be. You can train your pumpkins to stay put and you can keep your heavy tomato vines out of the dirt when they’re weighed down with fresh fruit. Twine makes it happen.

Pea Trellis

For many of us, chickens are an important part of our garden system. They provide us with fresh food daily and make some effective compost while doing it. They keep bugs down and cultivate the ground during the off-season as they peck and scratch. They’re important to us, so it’s important that we protect them. Simple string can span across a chicken yard to deter airborne predators from making a swoop at your hens. Predation from the sky can be a huge threat to your backyard flock. Garden twine offers a simple solution. Simply tie sections of string from one end of the yard to the other, attaching them directly to the top of the fence. Do this about every 2 feet or so. Now, watch the hawks circle about, just before flaring off to look for a new target.

There is no room in the garden for uni-taskers. We need tools that can handle numerous jobs and handle them well. Garden twine is one of those tools. So start snipping, stretching, tying and training. Put this easy going, user-friendly material to work for you. You’ll learn to love The Magnificent Multitasker that makes it happen.

Pea Trellis Two

A Labor of Love

Backwoods BrandonThe first 40 hours of the week is spent at work so we can pay the bills. The second 40 hours of the week is spent working at Heavy Hardwood Corner, so we have fewer bills to pay. It's been a sun up to sun down kind of spring. With each project that gets checked off of the to-do list, we inch closer and closer to accomplishing the goals we've had for years. It hasn't come without blisters, splinters and busted knuckles. It hasn't come without sweat, blood and bug bites. But it also hasn't come without smiles, laughter and some of the best family time this group of three has ever enjoyed together. It's a labor of love that we're happy to call our own.

The two biggest projects we've tackled so far this season are building a new fence for our massive garden expansion and getting ready for the delivery of our brand new Central Boiler Outdoor Wood Furnace. We've come to realize that the only way to feel better about the daunting tasks ahead is to put our shoulders down and get to work. When the load seems a bit overwhelming and I start to stress about how it's all going to get done, I just tie my boots a bit tighter. I slide into my most comfortable pair of working jeans and throw on my cleanest dirty shirt. I pull the bill down on my favorite frayed hat, stuff a handkerchief in my back pocket, sheath my knife and get to it. The love we have for what we're doing is what keeps us on our feet every day from dawn until dusk.

We started the fence project by bringing a truck load of cedar posts home from the Amish. After spending five hours stripping 50 posts, it was time to set them in the sandy soil. We ended up fencing in about half an acre of our property to encompass all of the fruit and vegetables. The cedar posts are set over 2 feet deep and we ran 3-feet-tall welded wire fencing around the entire perimeter. Directly above the 3-foot-tall fencing is a hot wire. There's another hot wire at 4 feet and another at 5 feet. This will keep the rabbits out and give a nice zap to any coons who try to climb over the 3-foot-tall welded wire. This system has also kept out the large population of deer and black bears that we share the woods with.

The black bears have been getting curious though. Last week we were woken up by a large bear rearranging the furniture on our front porch. We could hear its large claws and heavy footsteps right outside our open bedroom window at 2 a.m. It was definitely a startling way to be woken up. After making a loud noise to spook the bear off of the porch, I made my way to the kitchen window. Standing there in the glow of the barn's motion light was what I estimate to be a 350-pound black bear. Scurrying into the woods close by was his partner in crime, another big bear. First thing I did the next morning was take a walk to where I saw the bear standing in the driveway. I found some perfect tracks, including one back foot track that measured over 10 inches long. The picture shown here is the front paw of the smaller of the two bears that visited the porch that night. These visitors are going to have a nice surprise if they try to get to our sweetcorn inside the electric fence this summer.

The new fence is equipped with three gates for easy access. There's a picket gate on the east side that we made from repurposed materials for the entry way. There's a 10-foot truck gate on the north end for bringing in loads of compost or mulch and there's a gate on the south end that leads to the fire pit for easy pickin' and cookin' this summer. In our first year at Heavy Hardwood Corner, we had a 25-by-50-foot vegetable garden and six fruit trees including two apples, two pears and two peaches. This spring we've turned the veggie patch into a 30-by-100-foot growing space. We've added four blueberry bushes, three grapevines, two strawberry patches, two sweet cherry trees, a plum tree, a nectarine tree, a pumpkin patch, an asparagus patch and a mini garden/sandbox for our two year old, barefoot daughter. This new electric fencing system will keep all of this food protected and it looks beautiful doing it.

Last week was a big week for us. In preparation for the delivery of our new outdoor wood burner, we dug a four foot deep trench and buried our supply and return lines. While we had the ground opened up, I also ran a water line out to the barn and installed a water hydrant near the slab where the stove will sit. We decided not to buy the pre-insulated stuff that costs nearly $12 a foot for our supply and return lines. With over 140 feet between the house and the burner, that was fixing to get expensive real quick. Instead, we used a closed-cell spray foam to insulate the pipes. I sprayed five inches of foam into the bottom of the trench and laid the lines on top of it. I then sprayed a thick layer of foam around all sides of the lines before backfilling the trench. Thankfully our closest neighbor, who happens to live one mile away, brought his backhoe over to do the excavating for us. After a lot of playing in the dirt, two busted hydraulic lines on the tractor and going elbow deep in hydraulic fluid for three hours to fix it, we had the lines buried. We saved over $1,200 by doing it ourselves.

The next day we built a form for our concrete foundation and poured the slab that the burner will sit on. Now, we're just waiting for the burner to be delivered so we can hook it up into the existing propane boiler in the basement. It should be here any day. It will heat our home in the winter and our domestic hot water all year round. The math says it will pay itself off in just two and a half years. It virtually eliminates our dependency on propane. It’s a long-term, life-changing investment.

Every pinhole in my fingers from stretching fence, every time I got shocked while testing the electric system, all the bloody knuckles, blistered hands and sore backs my wife and I have experienced this spring are all worth it. We love the work we're doing, because it's what will feed our family and keep us warm for years to come. It's the lifestyle we chose and we wouldn’t change it for a thing. It's a labor of love, and that's a labor worth doing.

How To Turn a Busted Chicken Drinker into a Busy Chicken Feeder

Side by Side

Backwoods BrandonOne blustery evening last winter, my wife and I ventured out to the chicken coop to do the chores after dark. The temps were well below zero and the snow was over the knee if we strayed from the shoveled pathway. I grabbed our standard 1-gallon poultry drinker with frozen hands, only to find out that it was frozen too. It was a solid block of ice and the red bottom wasn’t budging. In my late winter frustration, I banged it a few times on the side of the coop to try to loosen the ice inside so I could remove the lid to fill it. Grabbing the handle, I twisted vigorously, thinking it had to break loose at some point.

“Stop, you’re going to break it,” my wife said.

“It’s not going to break,” I replied, determined to free the drinker from winter’s grasp.

Waterer

Just as soon as I finished my sentence, winter proved her right. One of the three tabs on the red bottom busted off, sending a 1-gallon chunk of ice to shatter at my feet. I refilled it, hoping it would hold water. After putting the red lid back on and turning it over for the chickens, the water rushed right through the bottom where the tab was broken. The drinker was done for. I filled a bowl of water for the hens, and then went back inside for a slice of humble pie.

The next day, we replaced the poultry drinker with another one just like it. The busted drinker stayed on the barn shelf for the rest of the winter, laughing at me every time I walked through the door. I knew I would use it for something eventually, I just didn’t know what yet.

A few days ago, I was looking for an excuse to take a short break from our fence-building project. My hands were full of blisters and pin holes from stretching welded wire, and I needed a little change of pace. So, I decided to redeem myself by turning the busted chicken drinker into a fully functional chicken feeder with supplies I had laying around the barn. We’ve needed another feeder in the coop since we introduced our 10 young hens, anyway. So, we got to it.

First, we found a tray in the barn that we weren’t using anymore. It’s one that sits under heavy pots to catch the water after giving your plants a drink. Any old tray with raised sides will work. The next step is the most important of all in the process of repurposing a busted poultry drinker. Remove the metal handle and turn the busted drinker upside down. That’s right; it’s as simple as that. Because the drinker is now upside down, the busted tab on the red lid can’t leak anymore. Two out of the three tabs are still in place, so the lid on the feeder is plenty sturdy enough to take on and off and fix a handle to.

FeederNext, drill four holes in the bottom of the new feeder, which actually used to be the top. The size of the holes depends on how big the feed is. They just need to be big enough to constantly keep the tray full as the chickens eat the feed.

Place the upside down feeder into the middle of the tray. Find the holes that the handle you just removed went through. Using a pencil, mark the tray near the holes. Using a small drill bit, poke a couple holes in the bottom of the tray. String wire up through the holes on the tray, and then through the holes that the handle used to be attached to. Twist it tight underneath the whole contraption to keep the feeder attached to the tray. You can now attach the handle to the top of your feeder by simply drilling a couple holes in the red lid and bending the handle a bit to fit snugly in the holes. Fill the feeder with your grain and twist the lid back on.

That’s all there is to it. The whole process only gave me about a 5-minute break from fence building. It gave me a lot of satisfaction though. One of the major components of trying to build a homestead is using what you have on hand to get the job done. You reuse things when you can, even if it’s for an entirely different purpose. We needed a new feeder to accommodate the extra chickens anyway, so we saved a few bucks and a trip to the farm store in the process. Now the chickens rarely eat out of the old feeder that they’ve had for years. They seem to prefer this new one and they line up for it come supper time.

Chickens perched

Getting Dirty and Getting It Done

Backwoods BrandonIt usually takes a while to shake out the stiffness that comes with a winter as long the one we’ve had in Northern Michigan. Thankfully, the muscles I’ve been using to shovel all of the snow and swing my 12-pound splitting maul thousands of times during the cold months, are the same muscles that I need this spring to run a pitch fork and a post hole digger. I’d be awful sore already if that wasn’t the case. The frost is out of the ground now, which means it’s time for our hands to go in.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us. The plans are coming together, but with each checkmark on the to-do list comes another entry at the bottom of the page. With full-time jobs and all of life’s other happenings, it seems like we never stop moving for long. The splinters in our fingers and dirt under our nails now will turn into baskets of fresh veggies and shelves full of canned goods this fall. We know it’s worth it. It’s time to saddle up and ride.

Getting dirty while planting seeds.

A few new fruits have been planted here on the corner, and they’re soaking up the late April rain as they settle into the sand. A friendly neighbor of ours, who just happens to have the most impressive garden I’ve seen, gave us a mature blueberry bush. He hooked up to it with his tractor and gently tugged it from the dirt. I had a hole in the ground waiting for it. We grabbed a bucket full of peat mud from the swamp to provide the bush with valuable nutrients to help it survive the shock of transplant. We mulched around it completely with sawdust, and it has already started to bud. It’s going to do well at its new home in the woods.

Transplanted Blueberry Bush

The same neighbor kindly gave us three Concord grape vines. He knows that if he ever has any extra food, I’ll find a place to plant it. I re-purposed some old deck posts that were no longer being used and buried four of them two feet in the ground, eight feet apart. The posts reach five feet above ground. I planted one new grape vine between each post. I made sure to dump some composted cow manure in the hole first to help the vines get established. I mulched them all with sawdust, and I’ll tie them to wires this summer if they grow tall enough to need support.

Concord Grape Vines

We have hundreds of seedlings planted, and they’re doing well. It’s still getting too cold at night to move them to the cold frame outside, but they’re reaching for the sun from the huge sliding glass door inside the house. These plants are almost big enough to transplant into larger square planters. When the temps warm up a bit more, they’ll be moved to their cold frame until the garden is ready to be planted. We are anxiously awaiting some other fruit trees we’ve ordered as well. We have two cherry trees, a nectarine tree and a plum tree on the way. We also have three more blueberry bushes that should arrive at our doorstep any day now. I’m looking forward to getting these new additions into the ground.

Tomato Seedling

We’re expecting another, bigger delivery soon as well. We recently pulled the trigger on our Central Boiler outdoor wood furnace. I think this is going to be one of the most important investments we’ve ever made. I’m chomping at the bit to get this thing hooked up. We can’t wait for the day when we can call the propane company and have them pick up their ugly white tank. We have more digging and building to do first though.

Central Boiler outdoor wood furnace.

Just yesterday, I stopped at the Amish sawmill and picked up about 50 cedar posts. These posts will hold up all 400 feet of fencing we’re building in the next couple weeks to keep the deer out of our garden. Every night, there are more deer in our yard wondering what we planted that day. I have to get this fence built right away to protect our seedlings when they hit the outdoors dirt in a few weeks. The fence project is on the top of our list. More information on the fence building and installation of our outdoor wood furnace will be available in future posts.

Cedar posts, ready to build a fence.

We’ve torn down the old fence that was around the garden, and it’s ready to be re-constructed into a nice chicken park for the laying hens. Two nights ago, we moved our 10 young golden comets into the coop with the fully grown hens. They’re adjusting well, and the old gals haven’t been beating up on them too bad. At a friend’s house a few miles away, we have broiler chickens started. They’re still tiny now, but in a couple months they’ll be excellent grill fare and one less reason to go to the grocery store.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say it hasn’t been all work and no play. My family spent last week in the mountains of North Carolina at my wife’s parents' place. My in-laws have built something truly special near the Fines Creek area of Western North Ccarolina, called Three Bear Holler. They have three cabins for rent, Poppa Bear, Momma Bear and Baby Bear. We stayed in Baby Bear, which has an excellent mountain view. Sitting on the porch, you can see my father-in-law’s cattle grazing on the mountain side. This is where our beef will come from this fall. Half of one of these steers has our name on it. Homegrown, grass-fed, beautiful, delicious beef. Whenever we head down to North Carolina for a visit, I make sure to bring my fly rod with me. I returned to one of my favorite fishing holes in the world. After a couple of hours trying to figure out what the trout wanted for breakfast, I finally matched the hatch. I started to wear the brown trout out with a little white dry fly, catching more than a dozen in less than 30 minutes. You can read that story HERE.

Mountain Brown Trout

We’re back in Michigan now, re-energized and ready to rock. I’m looking at the soaked forest as I type this sentence, watching the rain fall in sheets. As soon as it lets up, we’ll be back out playing in the mud, checking off items on the list. In the meantime, I suppose I can strip 50 cedar posts of their bark in the cool, dry pole barn. Somewhere deep on the list of to-do’s, after building fences, planting the garden and installing our new wood furnace, is chopping enough wood to heat the place for a year and setting us up with a station to clean our broiler chickens when they’re ready. One day, one post, one swing of an axe, one checkmark on the list at a time will get us there. Stay tuned to Heavy Hardwood Corner as we get dirty and get it done.

Welcome Home, Spring

Backwoods BrandonIt’s been a long, cold winter here at Heavy Hardwood Corner. One of the hardest we can remember. The snow just kept coming and the mercury seemed to have a hard time creeping above zero for months. That’s all coming to an end though. As the robins return along with the geese, we’re beginning to feel refreshed by the sunshine and receding snow banks. The turkeys are making their way back to their mating grounds, and I can hear them gobbling to the west on my brisk morning walks through the woods. The backyard chickens have a little extra pep in their step as they frantically search for open ground to scratch and peck at. We have a little more scoot in our boots, too, as we prepare for the season spent outside. Welcome home, Spring.

Robin
In Michigan, the return of the robins is a sure sign of spring. It's a welcome sight at Heavy Hardwood Corner.

Goose Landing
The geese return around the same time that the robins do. These migratory birds are looking forward to spring in Michigan just as much as we are. 

Our home sits on 10 acres, carved out of the Ausable State Forest in Northern Michigan. We live on a dead-end dirt road that runs out of gravel at the swamp about a mile from our property. The road heads north and makes a sharp curve to the west on the corner of our chunk of the forest. Our mostly wooded acreage fills that corner with mature, mighty oaks and maples, tall, skinny balsam firs, a small swell of cedars and the occasional bare, busted up birch tree. We live in one of the wildest parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and I’m convinced it’s also one of the most beautiful. We share the woods with big black bears, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, coons, deer, turkeys and much more. On any given day in the summer, any one of these animals could be seen passing through our Heavy Hardwood Corner.

My wife and I, along with your 2 1/2-year-old daughter have been hunkered down since the temperature dropped last year. The three feet of snow on the ground and constant sub-zero temperatures have made it hard to get much done. Our home is about three miles from the nearest pavement, 11 miles from the nearest town and almost one mile from the nearest full-time residence neighbor. Our road usually gets plowed about three days after a big snowfall, if it gets plowed at all. We’ve spent the last few months ordering seeds, planning the garden, trying to keep the chickens alive and bringing wood to the porch for the indoor woodstove that keeps us warm. We’re ready to welcome home spring with sweat on our brows, dirty fingernails, blistered hands, happy hens and scratches off of our list of to-dos.

Woodstack
The stack of wood on our porch overlooks an evergreen that's still weighed down with heavy snow.

This spring is slated to be our busiest yet. We had just closed the deal on this place this time last year. Last year, in our first spring on the corner, we built a 25-by-50-foot garden that kept us in fresh vegetables all summer long. We planted two apple trees, two peach trees and two pear trees. We planted blackberries and raspberries, and we got a beautiful strawberry patch going. We installed the indoor stove to help us in our goal of ridding our property of its dependence on propane by working for our heat. We did a lot in our first year here, but this spring we have a lot more to do to become more food independent and self-reliant.

Garden
In our first year at Heavy Hardwood Corner, we had a 25X50 feet garden space. This spring, we'll build it much bigger.

This year we’ll welcome home spring by ripping out last year’s garden fence and expanding it by more than four times. We’re preparing to build a fence that encompasses all of the vegetables and the fruit in one enclosure. It will be more than 400 feet around. This will give us room to make a huge expansion to the vegetable patch. We plan to get blueberry bushes going this spring along with a second strawberry patch, a few more fruit trees, grapevines and a lot more brambles and berries. The large fence will be built to keep the deer, bunnies and other critters out of it all. We’re using last year’s fencing to make a new run for the chickens. This new chicken playground will be where we store all of our composting material including coop cleanouts. It’s designed to give our hens access to the entire gardening area when we want them to have it and keep them out of it when we don’t want them in there. After the harvest in the fall, all the way until it comes time to plant in the spring, the chickens will be able to work on the bugs and fertilize the garden area, but they won’t be able to pluck the greens and berries when things start to ripen in the summer. We’re also working toward installing an outdoor wood boiler in the next month that will completely eliminate our need for propane and save us thousands of dollars each year, all while keeping daddy healthy and happy to be outside. Raising our first batch of feeder chickens is on the to-do list for this year too. All of these measures inch us closer to our goal of becoming more food independent and self-reliant. 

We have a lot of work to do. We’re welcoming spring home because we’re ready to do it. We’re ready to spend sunup to sundown outside in this magical forest we call home. We’re ready to accomplish our goals as a family, made possible by grit, grim, sweat and determination. We’re ready to work together. We’re ready to learn and grow, knowing we’ll make mistakes by doing, not mistakes by sitting idle and wishing we were doing. We’re ready to welcome home spring.

Satellite
This satellite image courtesy of google earth shows Heavy Hardwood Corner and the Ausable State Forest that surrounds it.