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.

nebraskadave
4/12/2014 8:56:57 AM

Brandon, welcome to the GRIT blogging community. I'm sure you will have many interesting stories to tell about backwoods living. Your Google earth picture certainly explains how you can heat with wood during the Winter months. Nebraska, where I live, doesn't have an abundance of trees. The trees here are mostly planted trees for wind breaks or bank erosion control. The wild trees grow along rivers or drainage ravines. I do admire those that can heat with wood because it's allot of work and this last Winter was extremely cold here so I can imagine just how much wood it would take to heat a house. ***** Your plans for gardening are amazing. I'm in the process of taming a .62 acre city property that I purchased from the city through the foreclosure website. Now I'm in process of buying another city foreclosure property for gardening so I'm claiming to be an Urban farmer. City farming has to not only produce food but have an element of landscaping and beauty to it. I'm still learning how to accomplish that but things are moving into the third year with great accomplishments. ***** I'm looking forward to reading more about backwoods living. Have a great Michigan day in the garden.





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