Spring on the Small House Homestead – Photo Diary

Good morning! Spring is truly busting out all over on the Small House Homestead this month.

HOR quince and bench studio USE

A favorite flowering quince bush bursts into bloom at my studio building. 

Forsythia and studio USE

All of my forsythia shrubs were transplanted or propagated from tiny shrub starts.

Phlox and stones USE

Creeping phlox offers a splash of pale lavender and spreads.

Spring and its intense flowering beauty is what we in Michigan live for!

Burning bush and daffodils barn

Daffodils and a burning bush in front of the pole barn.

Violets and logs in garden USE

Wild spreading violets in the vegetable garden. They will be transplanted when it rains. 

Our homesteads many flowers, shrubs, fruit trees and bushes are really starting to come alive!

Pink pear blossoms

Planted in 2015 , this peach tree replaced a tree that died from our high ground water flooding.

Phlox and chartreause shribe behind porch USE

The low growing flowers and shrubs behind the three-season porch.

Our 5-acre homestead garden is a bloom with the fruits of fifteen years of my labor.

Silver Lace Vine , trelllis, fence

The newly planted (2015) silver lace vine on the trellis is putting out leaves.

Violets under digwood in bird bed

Masses of wild purple violets bloom in the bird feeding bed under the dogwood tree.

Freckles with persnality and Snowball USE

Freckles and Snowball out and about enjoying the sunshine.

Playhouse with climber

The playhouse in the spring; day lilies are growing again and the climbers are too.

Sidewalk and chalk fun

Chalk drawings on the sidewalk speaks the language of spring.

I hope you enjoy a view of this week on the homestead and that you bloom where you are planted!

Small House homesteader, Donna

Small House Weekly Homestead Photo Diary


Not that I am complaining….but summer weather came upon us suddenly this week on our homestead in SW Michigan. One night it is freezing and the next day it is sunny and hot. In fact, it was sunny and hot all week-long and no rain. The daffodils are bursting out everywhere and their bright yellow color everywhere makes me happy. Even the daffodils that I had thought were drowned in the 2009-2012 high ground water flooding have returned with many new blooms and are spreading.

Firepit in meadow ith Rhodies very close GOOD

The Rhodies love to scratch and peck in the wood ash from the recently burned down fire pit.

While this is a mood boosting strategy we do need rain here and a lot of it. Not only do the plants and trees need life-giving water to get a really good start, we need to fill our water containment totes for the long, dry summer ahead. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting hotter than usual and less rain that usual in our part of the state. In a 1950’s style home without a/c and a not-currently-working swimming pool, this is not good news. Sigh.

April daffodils to circle USE

The daffodils are bursting out in the crab apple tree circle garden right now. 

We hope to get the swimming pool up and running again soon but a large chunk of cash is needed to do that and not in the budget right now. The pool needs to be drained, scraped, acid washed, re-painted and the mechanical’s up and running again. It’s going to a big and expensive project.

Daffodils in triangle under fruit tree USE

Circles of daffodils in the fruit tree triangle. 

Gene worked on removing the deer netting from around the hydrangea shrubs and turned the pool pump turned on and got out the hoses. He also worked on repairing the ruts in the meadow this week. The rusts came as a result of the roadside trimmer driving their large, heavy truck to dump the mulch. The ruts were filled with a mix of sandy soil from the woods, well-composed horse manure from a friend’s farm and topped with good composted soil from the compost pile. In the fall, I’ll plant grass seeds. Grass seeds do not germinate well here in the spring time unless we have a very wet year to keep them going. Grass seed simply does better here if I spread it in the fall and let the snow melt germinate it the following spring.

Cart, Rhodies Gene digging w shovel USE

Gene digging composted soil with his Rhodie helpers fishing for worms.

Daffodils in bloom in bird bed USE

Our bird feeding bed is edged in daffodils and a bloom.

I spent most of my week dispersing straw and then bark chips. I made some good progress but have a l-o-n-g way to go yet.

Rhodies close puzzld cute

This Rhode Island Red chicken is certainly strutting her stuff in the leaves.Gen holing Crystal who is lfying downCrystal wants to get away after wiping down her messy butt from a bit too many kitchen scraps.

Burning bush and daffodils barn

Bloom where you are planted my friends!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Early Spring on the Small House Homestead

I think early spring has finally arrived in the Oak Savannah forest of SW Michigan. We still have small piles of snow in places because the woods holds in the cold and snow long past the warmer land in the city but we have more ground showing than snow now. Our days are warming up into the 50’s and the daffodils and day lilies are peeking their heads through the soil.

Bench and woods USE first

A bench in the woods offers a bit of solitude behind our homestead.

March came in and went out like a lion in my part of the country this year! How about yours? The clocks tick on, the seasons change and another Michigan spring begins.

Studio - low raised gardens USE

Raised beds and a path next to the native flower meadow lead to my art studio.

Today Sassy and I took a walk through our property and through the neighbor’s 20 acre wood behind us. We are blessed to be able to walk in those woods and in return we try to give back by picking up sticks that fall on the pathway and put our massive amounts of oak leaves on the trails to keep down some of the briars and to keep the paths walkable.

Pole barn entrance garden uSE

The flower bed sidewalk side entrance to our ranch-style bungalow home.

The birds in the tree top are singing all day now. And Mr. Blue, after two weeks of constant “advertising,” has found his mate. I saw two flashes of blue yesterday as they flew by and lit on the pool shack, one of their favorite perches. We have three bluebird houses out for them and inevitably they choose the one behind the pool shack in the meadow for their early, first nesting. The meadow flowers have not yet grown tall and apparently that nest box is in the full sun, which they like for cold spring rains and sudden cold snaps.

garden-coop-barn USE

Shallow raised beds in the vegetable garden alongside our metal pole barn.

The woods are almost quiet now; no hunters, no snowmobiles and no hikers. Just the migrating birds on their way to their nesting grounds looking for a territory. We hear the Sandhill Cranes whooping as they fly over us way above the tree tops and sometimes in the marshes around us. After fourteen years of prowling these woods around us we know the special places the Sandhill Cranes like to feed, veg and nest and some days we scout them to quietly observe their behavior.

HOR Barn USE

Our pole barn sits under the white pines and oaks next to the wooded portion of our land.

It’s almost time for us to start our waterfowl and woodcock watching too. We like to drive into the woods at dusk to some special marshes we have found in the Allegan Forest. We like to watch and listen to the waterfowl come in for the night. We hear Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Wood Ducks, blue and green wing Teal and more, whistling, chortling and clucking.

HOR porch bed with studio USE

The garden bed alongside and behind out three seasons porch is not yet awake for the 2015 season.

Gene’s years of waterfowl hunting has taught him to identify hundreds of birds by sight and sound and he in turn has taught me. We are now teaching our almost six-year-old granddaughter Brenna about the birds we find here. Gene has given her part of his collection of bird calls for Owls, Ducks and Geese and I gave her a bird identification book and she is learning to love the birds as much as we do. When she visits she helps us put feed into the feeders and we identify them from our dining room window. The birds are finding her way into her coloring and birthday cards, much to our delight. We have found that birding is a lifelong hobby that brings such pleasure over the years no matter the physical capabilities of a person or not.

Diaganol pool shack-fence USE

The pool shack garden is also asleep and waiting for the sunshine.

It was almost anticlimactic after weeks of work on fencing and gates but today I turned the chickens out into the raspberry pasture this morning. I was happy to be able to walk away and not worry (well mostly not worry) about them. They are busy scratching and pecking in the leaves finding worms. I’ll be keeping my eyes on them through our windows but they no longer have to have constant physical supervision freeing me up for other chores and activities. Yea!

Bluebird house USE

The bluebird house sits in the meadow awaiting the first bluebird family.

Screendoor USE

The painted screen door on the back of the pool shack.

Small House Homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna