A Late Summer Night Stroll with the Rhodies

We’ve started a new homestead tradition this summer and that is letting the chickens out of their run every night for a bit of an evening stroll. It’s been so hot this past week that they pretty much lay under the raspberries during the heat of the day as even walking around in the shade take too much energy. But by early evening when the temperatures cool off a bit they come alive again. I want them to have some exercise and this evening walkabout strategy has seemed to interest them greatly.

Prcking foot cute                           Chicken pecking on Gene’s shoes. Such funny birds!

I chose to not let them truly free-range, fulltime on our property for several reasons but they have been enjoying a little free time stroll around the vegetable garden and yard each evening.

3 Rhodies outside the fence USE

The Rhodies find an area of moss and enjoy munching it.

Our Cochin’s who have lived within their fence in pastures for the past year are not comfortable coming out with us yet and run right back into their run area for an apparent feeling of security. To bad girls!

Snowballoutide gate USE    Snowball the Cochin won’t come further out of her pen than the gate.  

But the adventuresome four-month-old Rhodies seem to adore their nightly stroll with us. It is really fun to watch them walk around, explore, looking for and finding bugs and running to catch up with one another.

Sometimes I sit on the grass and they come up to me and peck at my clothing and shoes. This gives me the perfect opportunity to observe their legs and feet looking for mites, to peek at their bottom to make sure we have no pasty butt issues going on. They won’t let me hold them to do a thorough check over but as long as I can “observe” their health every day, I am comfortable.

Chickens outside of run with white roof USE The Rhodies like to walk along the fence row of their run looking for bugs.

Two chickens at barn

Two Rhodies boldly venture over towards the pole barn.

I hope you enjoy today’s photo diary!

Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna


The Heat is On: Photo Diary week of July 6 – July 13

The heat is on in SW Michigan and on the Small House homestead too.

House and barn under the Oak Trees USE

I’ve been hauling hoses to water the garden beds and the vegetables. I put down another truck load of bark chips this week though I am not sure how many more loads I’ll be doing this summer due to the rising heat and humidity…perhaps more come fall.  The mosquitoes have been very thick here on the homestead this summer from all the spring rains which means gearing up in mosquitoes mask, long sleeves and pants.

Herb garden studio in distance USE

I am still working every morning painting the chicken coop pieces and parts though the bulk of it is now painted. I have been teaching the three-month old RIR chicks to go up the ramp into their new coop.

IBarn front-side close view

The garden is growing slow this year due to the cool nights though I’ve started harvesting more lettuce greens, a few cherry tomatoes and a single yellow pepper. I did fertilize the tomatoes this week with my bath of comfrey tea I made a few weeks ago.

Vegetable garden  7 11 15

Album holder flower pot for 2015

July and August are lighter outdoor work months for us because it’s just too hot to take on new large projects and we are also pretty fried by July as well. I have a long list of projects I want to accomplish in the house during the hot months anyway. I need to file, find a replacement door handle for the three season porch and research a new pole barn door as our old one is showing signs of failing. And at some point this summer we have to have the river rock floor in our porch cleaned, repaired and resealed but that project has been waiting for real hot weather and no rain.

Garden view out backporch slider

We are hoping for rain and cooler days ahead.

Working area


Gene holding snowball USE

Small House homesteader, Donna

Vanishing Landscapes – Red Horse Ranch, Fennville

Yesterday I had the privilege of feeding my horse friends at Red Horse Ranch. I volunteer there one evening a week so that I can be close to the horses and give them equine Reiki when the timing works.

Red on white snow falling USE

Red Horse Ranch in a raging but beautiful February snowstorm.

Almost a white out USE

It was so cold that I didn’t share Reiki the horses but I was able to spend a bit of time photographing the farmstead. Documenting old places, especially vanishing landscapes is an old love of mine. I have been doing this for more than 50 years now. Recording these old-style covered bridges, barns, factories, one-room schoolhouses, train stations, old neighborhood stores and more, these vintage structures draw me in and do not let me  go.

Inside barn looking out

The view from inside the “big barn” looking out.

While I once documented them in black and white film, I now use a digital camera to capture their beauty and create photo essays using computer software. The equipment is certainly different but the creative process is much the same.

Chicken coop from side  in snow USE jeg

Chipped paint, weather wood and snow flakes on the chicken coop.

Coop window close USE

There is just something about photographing barn red paint against white snow.


Coop and fence nice

The chicken coop in the landscape.

The cold simply vanishes when I am immersed in my craft with the camera in hand and my mind in sync. Photographs jump out at me in the tiniest of details from the barn latch to the blue-gray eyes of the barn cat.

Barn cat USE

The barn cat carefully watches me giving Reiki healing to J.B.

When I stood in the barn and look at the hay mound filled with bales of hay I am suddenly transported back to my grandparents Yankee Bank Barn on the Prairie Rhonde, in Schoolcraft, MI. For a moment I was teleported back my childhood and I was standing in the sunbeam watching the straw pieces floating down and around me. For a moment I smelled that unique odor of fresh baled hay. I haven’t thought of that day in years. Isn’t that interesting how a place, and a moment, can trigger a fifty-year-old memory?

Haymound close USE jpeg

The hayloft and tack center.

Red stilllife USE

A picturesque vignette of vintage wheelbarrow and chair.

BJ eating in barn USE jpeg

B.J. eating her dinner before her Reiki treatment.

These vanishing landscapes call to me and sing a song of a story of a slowly dying time. My grandparent’s barn is gone now but the good memories remain. 

Small House Homesteaders and Photographer, 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.

Ely Lake white spacing jpeg w text

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