By Chris Heiden
In Michigan, Chris Heiden and his family moved to 5 acres in the country back in 2001. He plans on focusing his blog on his family's endeavors. "The primary focus of the blog is a family raising chickens and turkeys. We have decided to start with hobby farming and transition to a more self-sustained farming lifestyle over time," he says.
They moved to the country for a simpler and quieter life. "We have enjoyed being surrounded by the woods and farms," he says. He defines a homesteader "as someone who utilizes skills to enhance his or her quality of life by living a life off of the land."
He plans to add pigs and sheep in the near future, making Heiden Farms even more self-sufficient.
Currently, Heiden Farms is home to a number of breeds of egg-laying chickens: Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, Silver Laced Wyandottes, Golden Laced Wyandottes, Black Jersey Giants, Easter Egg/Aracaunas, Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks, Bantam Dorkings, and Isa Browns.
Chris' current project is building a permanent turkey shelter. "My older son wants us to get a small number of Blue Slate turkeys for a show and then breed them for 4-H events. We are studying different options of turkey facilities available from the USDA and Michigan State University extension offices. The shelter will be designed and built in stages during the winter months as much as possible," Chris says.
The Heiden to-do list includes getting set up for feeder pigs with a permanent shelter and a fenced-in facility. Chris says this will be the next project as soon as the turkey shelter is completed. Then he plans on setting up for a small flock of sheep, including shelter and a fenced-in area for grass rotation.
A garden is also in the works, and Chris plans on planting blueberry bushes, tomatoes and beans, among others.
He counts his country skills as gardening, planting and animal husbandry. And his philosophy on country life "is to make the most of the time that I have to enjoy and share the experiences with my wife and sons. Our animals bring such joy to us each and every day. They all have such interesting personalities."
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