Walks with Sassy

We took Sassy to the State Game Area today for her daily run. She has been sick from the strong de-worming medication but in spite of that she still needs a short run to burn off her high energy level.

We took her into the Allegan Forest wilderness area to an area that had recent been cut and cleared. We were curious about what had been done and followed the pathway cut back by the big equipment. We are always keeping a watch out for potential fracking sites as well.

Pathway Sassy USE

Run Sassy run!

The Allegan State Area is a unique 50,000-acre state-owned ecosystem. That is a showcase for oak-pine barrens (also called oak-pine savanna.) This area offers a unique community of plants and animals adapted to life on the dry, sandy soils of this area. Allegan County also features lowland hardwood and oak-pine forests, wetlands, ponds and open fields and many of those are found within this area.

This amazing ecosystem is just 10 miles from our home and one of the top 5 reasons we moved here. Not only do we love to hike, fish, kayak and watch birds we believed that this free outdoor opportunity is integral to us in our retirement years. It doesn’t take any money to enjoy the wilderness… only time.

Termite log 1

A termite infested log is still a thing of natural beauty.

Today we explored a recent clear-cut area to see what was going on there. Then we visited nearby Lester Lake to check out the water height after the recent rainfall, and to see what birds were visiting on their migration. The day was warm and sunny and our walk was delightful.

Turkey track

A fresh turkey track caught my attention.

It’s always hard to take time away from the homestead for these walks but once we do, I am always glad for the time away and the beauty we experience.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Easy to Make High Protein Chicken Feed Medley

I believe that healthy food is our best medicine and in using garden herbs for chicken health. So when I discovered this easy to make infused oil mixture for extra winter protein and nutrition for my chickens, I was thrilled.

Close up

A healthy and happy chicken has bright eyes, glossy feathers and ample energy.

While I can’t grow everything in my garden I do have a number of herbs that I grow and feed directly to our chickens. But winter feeding of herbs is so much harder.

Drinking out of red waterer

Lots of fresh water daily is also important to a chickens good health.

PLEASE NOTE: The credit for this original infused oil mixture goes solely to Susan Burek of Mile High Herbs, This came as a result of a post she made on the Poultry natural Living found on Facebook. This is my favorite chicken group of all time. https://www.facebook.com/groups/herbalpoultrycare/

Snoozle time

Mid afternoon snuggle down time.

While some of you are in states that are getting warmer, some of us “lucky ones” in the Midwest still have 3 to 5 ft. of snow on the ground!! And while our 10 degree below temperature have waned, it is running around 30 degrees at night. I’ve discovered that our woods holds in the snow and cold longer after it is melted in other more open spaces.

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Snow on the coop and covered run.

 So this means we are still feeding our chickens high caloric and protein feed for a few more weeks to help to keep them warm at night. I’ve tried all kind of feed type and combinations and this is the one I have the best luck with. It is versatile and can be adapted in many ways. I make the infused oil up ahead of time and then add that oil to whatever I am feeding that day.

Freckles close

This is Freckles, a Phoenix/Cochin mix and the top bird of our group.

This also kills two birds with one stone (likely a BAD analogy for chicken lovers!) but it gets the oils of the crushed garlic into the chicken as well as giving them the fuel that they need for cold nights. I feed garlic as a preventative measure to keep my birds as healthy as possible and basil for mucus membrane health and for its antibacterial properties.

Cloves of fresh garlic goes into my chickens food and their water. Some times they ignore it but some of them, like Freckles picks it out tosses it on the ground and then eats it. Freckles is the top chicken in our small flock.

Headingout the door of the enclosed run to the outside

Our girls heading outdoors for a little bit of sunbathing!

STEP 1: Garlic Infused Oil:

  1. Pour about 1 cup to cup and a half of a high-grade of virgin olive oil into clean a canning jar.
  2. Peel, crush and chop up 7 garlic cloves and add the garlic to the jar of oil
  3. I like to add dried oregano leaves but you can add almost any of your chicken healthy herbs that you might have on hand.
  4. Cover with lid and let this mix infuse several days to a week before using. The longer it infused the more it smells of the wonderful wholesome and healthy garlic.

STEP 2: Add Oil Mixture to Your Feed of Choice

I’ve been experimenting with many different combinations this winter but the one my chickens seem to like the best and the one they leave the least amount of waste behind.

Making the Oil and Protein Medley:

  1. I toss two handfuls of black oiled sunflower seeds in an ice cream bucket.
  2. Toss in a half a handful of dried meal worms.
  3. I add a large scoop of fermented organic chicken grower feed
  4. Add a chunk of cut up wheat grass
  5. A splash of apple cider vinegar
  6. Stir and feed

Add this mixture in your feeding bowl or pie plate and watch your girls rush in, cluck, cluck, and go to town!

Sitting pretty

Sitting pretty!  The girls today on their roost in the covered run.

You would never know today that these chickens were rescued chickens from a flock that was fed nothing but cracked corn. It’s taken me 7 to 8 months of providing fresh water and carefully selected food but they are now 8 months old and beginning to lay the mostly beautiful brown eggs.

The results of my feeding regime? Happy, healthy and well fed chickens. It is worth the effort!

Small House Chicken Keeper, Donna

Field Trip to the Last Standing Beech Tree

I took a field trip this week to capture the fog and rain at Ely Lake Primitive Campground.

I walked the North Loop to the Beech Trail, a trail I have been walking now for fourteen years. I’ve walked that trail to visit and to document the last standing Beech tree.

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I call it The Grandfather Tree.

For me that tree is a metaphor for life and what we humans are doing to our environment…

I enjoy the quiet, the wildness and the peace I find there. Our Labrador Sassy loves to run and swim there. Ely Lake is magical place that I hope will be protected in the future from fracking.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Evil in Eden (A Homesteader Needs to Get Away)

One thing about homesteading that might surprise you is how much deep rest and time off an aging homesteaders needs. To get that I’ve found I have to leave paradise!

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Gene and our trained bird dog, Sassy, pose at the Wilderness park sign.

Some folks feel that life on the homestead is all about sleeping in, setting your own schedule, taking time off when you want to because you are no longer punching a clock from 9 to 5. In some ways that is true as we are our own bosses and decide when we work and when we quit…but I personally have never worked harder, or longer hours, in my life!

Boulder and bay USE

This Sturgeon Bay scene shows the typical shrubby ecosystem found in Michigan’s up north geography. This is our favorite place to run our dog.

I’ve discovered there is a flip side to “Eden” and that there is always work waiting to be done and rest is a commodity that it’s hard to find time for on the homestead. (There is a bit of evil in Eden after all! Lol)

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I am fascinated with the beautiful patterns in this amazing boulder full of lichen.

When there are animals to feed and gardens to dig, the spring rush followed by the harvest time is always short and precious. And now that winter is just around the bed there is so much to be done there is no sleeping in or beach sitting for me. How about you?

Gene fishing w Sassy in camo waders

Gene did a bit of fishing in Lake Michigan, but saw no fish.

Our days are long here on the Small House Homestead, especially if we want to keep up our property (and we do) and we want to keep adding new projects each season (ditto.)

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My kayak nestled in the grasses and reeds of lake Michigan We were blessed with three calm days.

So this fall we took five days off and took a short camping trip for some much-needed rest. We drove the five hours to Wilderness State Park (near Mackinaw City, Michigan) for some rustic camping, reading and wave watching. I found that I was so exhausted once there that all I had the energy for was sitting in my bag chair, reading and listening to the waves. I only kayaked once.

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This “our” cabin. This is the 8th year we have stayed there and we have begun to think of it as ours.

Sunrise penninsula NICE

A spectacular sunrise….what a way to greet the day!

Best wishes from Donna from the Small House Homestead