The Stories of Seeds

I believe strongly that growing our own food, using the seeds we choose, and eating the way we believe, is about not only about personal freedom but also about food and health safety.

vegetable bed from corner

Our firewood edged raised beds in our 2014 garden.

Is not our right to farm and is not our freedom to farm stated in the second amendment? I am very alarmed about the corporate and agribusiness take-over of our seeds and seed banks.

Snow peas 2

Early tomatoes in the low beds and in bags, an experiment.

This year I made a conscious decision to purchase heirloom and open pollination seeds to use on our homestead.

Beans early July

Scarlette Runner Beans growing up a pole.

Not only do I want to support the small business owners who are working to save old seed varities, I just love the stories of the how those older varities of seeds came into being and were saved. Older seed varieties absolutely intrigue me.

I also want to save my own seeds for the following season. I can save a bit of money and more importantly I know exactly what I am growing.

Vegetable from outside corner

Our fenced in vegetable garden that adjoins the chicken coop and run area.

I want to help preserve the genetic variety of our heirloom seeds one grower at a time.

July raised beds on right side

Our pole beans did very well in 2014. I allow the butterfly plants to flourish in my garden bed.

This year I purchased our seeds from Mary at Mary’s Heirloom Seeds and from Jo at Seed Treasures. These are seeds that will grow healthy old-strain plants that are easy to care for and taste great.

Sunflower patch VERT

Our sunflower patch is part of our vegetable garden for beauty and to help pollinate the plants.

In Michigan the Right to Farm Act used to protect small farmers and growers like the Small House Homestead but this act has recently been altered. This change directly affects homesteaders and farmers who keep bees and chicken keepers and sell their products. Agribusiness is trying to put the small growers out of business. This has forced many of us to go underground.

If you are not yet aware of these natural wonders of the world – heirloom seeds I hope that I have educated you. Seed’s are the original gift of nature, so please join those of us who want to keep them around.

Will you join me?

Small House Homesteader, Donna


Winter is Back with a Vengeance!

The arctic blast is back on our homestead – brutally cold waters are blowing inland over the waters of unfrozen Lake Michigan. We are expecting wind chills of 5 to 15 below 0 all this week.

Playhouse forground USE

I am eternally grateful this week for my cozy and warm home and our snow blower!


Without a heated workshop, it looks like progress on the covered chicken run will be screeching to a halt. We did manage to get the runs two doors built and covered in chicken wire and hung this past week.



I guess there will be time to get our freezer defrosted and cleaned and the bathroom closet reorganized after all!





Stay warm and thanks for following!


Small House Homesteader, Donna


Homesteading: What I Would have Done Differently

At the beginning of the new year many folks start making their New Year’s Resolutions. I admit, I use to do this but I don’t any more. I now have an ongoing list of projects in my computer all year rounds that serves to provide focus and keep me on task.


The entry point to our home down the sidewalk and under the trellis to the three-season porch. This is spring.

Turn around bed and trellis

The same point but in the fall when the ornamental grasses are in flower.

This year instead I am looking back to see what I might have done different on the homestead had I known then, what I know now.

Lupines bricks diaganol USE

One of my favorite flower beds is the native lupine bed in front of our home.

I believe we did a lot of things right but the main change I would have made was to have plant our fruit trees sooner. I was not educated yet and just didn’t take the time to find out what trees would work best for us here. If I had planted those trees early on, we would have happily been eating our own organic fruit from our own trees for the past few years now.

Back of house fall deep sky best USE

Why I call our blog The Small House Under a Big Sky.

That’s it. That is about the only thing I would have changed. And that’s not bad for two mid-life novices who came to the country from the city (think Green Acres!) to work with their hands and grow their own food and make their own artwork!


An autumn view of our pole barn surrounded by White Oak and White Pines.

garden back of porch chartreuse and porch

The rear garden bed behind our three-season’s porch. 

Studio under deepblue sky NICE

My art studio, the former White Oak Studio & Gallery.


The daylily bed under a crabapple trees is the centerpiece of our center sidewalk.


Daylilies in their summer beauty under our trellis.

Field stonesand garden in bloom nice

Our flower beds are edged in hand-collected field stone.

Live and learn, make mistakes and learn from them and rejoice in the successes!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

My Favorite Chicken Resources

I am always looking to learn new tips and techniques to become a better chicken keeper. With my personality, I typically leave no stone unturned…I research on-line, talk to other keepers, read magazines and books and take away what works for me.

Favorite Chicken Resources Background w picturejpeg

I get questions from beginning chicken keepers from time-to-time so I created this resource to help you get started.

My Favorite Chicken On-Line Groups:

1) Poultry Natural Living & Herbal Care

2) Chicken, Critters, Crops and More!

My Favorite Chicken Bloggers:

These two chicken bloggers have blogs that are chock full of informative chicken raising articles that are not to be missed. These are my favorite two.

1) The Chicken Chick

2) Fresh Eggs Daily http:/

My Favorite How-to Chicken Books:

1. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers, by Harvey Ussery with a Foreword by Joel Salatin. his website is The Modern Homestead

2) Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, by Gail Damerow (care/feeding/facilities)

These will make for some good winter reading!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Another Annual Cousin’s Breakfast

I don’t mean to be melodramatic but one thing hard about getting older is losing family members and friends. One thing hard about getting older is losing family members and friends. With each passing year there are fewer of us around than before.

Cousins annual breakfast 2014

In my immediate family we have just one 82-year-old Uncle left alive and then it’s down to us — the cousins. This loss of family is part of life and on we all know death is coming but still, it is sad. And we are mostly in our 50’s & 60’s so its inevitable at some point.

A few years ago my cousins and I stared getting together for a meal around the new year. Some years its is held as a NY eve dinner and this year it’s NY day breakfast.

Most of us have to drive at least an hour and we pick a site that is about midway for most of us and it is a pleasant way to begin the new year or see out the old one. This is an opportunity to share and catch up on the past year. And it’s fun to.

Small House Homesteader, Donna