We spent as much time outside as possible during our recent February thaw. The sunshine felt wonderful on my skin and the warm weather made a partial clean-up of the yard possible.
Our small parcel of the Oak Savannas forest with compost bins in the distance.
When you live under the shelter of forty-seven White Oak trees you end up with a lot of sticks blown down in the yard that need to be picked up come spring. One record spring I collected twelve garden carts full of sticks and twigs!
One of our Rhodies enjoying her time in the forest edge.
So I am always happy to have the opportunity to get outside during the winter months and do a bit of pre-spring yard clean up.
Snowball the Bantam Cochin like all chickens loves to scratch in the leaves.
Have I recently mentioned that our land was once part of the Oak Savanna Forest?
This italics piece below was written by the author of the Lillie House Blog. Lillie House is an urban permaculture garden in Kalamazoo, Michigan. You can see the post about the history of the savannah in its entirety at Lillie House : How We Save the Savannas
And most magnificent of all the ecosystems in the new Americas was the savannas. These large parcels of land were once common across the region where the Eastern Woodland receded into western prairie.
Our chickens free ranging along the path into the forest.
Just as we call the prairies “grasslands,” these savannas were “flowerlands,” glorious with a great bounty of broadleaf plants that provide medicine, food and forage. These special ecosystems are the preferred environment of many species, the only place where some can thrive. No doubt it was also home to undiscovered, lost soil communities that we had not yet begun to understand when we brought with us a vast, yet tiny army of invisible conquistadors to colonize the kingdom under foot.
Photo credit: Lillie House Blog Spot.
Within ten years of “settlement” by Europeans, these ecosystems were transformed. The open woodlands filled in to thick forest, prairies and savannas turned to cane thickets and old field, and eventually forest. This once open, park-like continent transformed to just another dense European thicket, and the North American miracle was never to be seen again.
One of the remaining stands of native lupines in the State Game Area.
One large 50,000 acre parcel the Allegan State game Area was preserved by officials for its recreational use for campers, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, horse trail riders and hunters and due to the prevalent native lupines that grow there. These beautiful lupines are the host plant for the protected Karner blue butterflies.
Spring in the forest with native Lupines providing the color.
The chickens had a blast being out of their run. They walked, scratch and pecked for hours every day. We feel most comfortable supervising the chickens when they free range outside of their fenced in runs.
The forest edge creates a lovely back-drop to our property as well as wind break.
I have tried to preserve the trees on our land and to plant native plantings as well as the many native Lupines as I could plant. I have maintained and played steward on this property as best that I can in the fifteen years we have lived here. We have work hard to preserve and protect this unique ecosystem and add to it as we can.
The weather report indicated that a big storm is headed our way later this week and predicting 5″ to 8″ of fresh snow. So I have been picking up as many sticks as I could and letting the chicken out for several hours a day. Apparently this lovely thaw is about to end!
Oh and the bluebird are coming back…we saw two males looking for their breeding territories earlier this week! I’ll keep you posted!
Small House homesteader, Donna