A Notion About Seeds

Happy Spring! We’ve been over here in the Northwoods riding the wave of Mother Nature’s moods. The last two days were 60 degrees F and sunny in the Keweenaw and as I’m writing this it’s 34 degrees F and snowing enough to accumulate. This time of year really reminds me of how adaptable and flexible we need to be. We can learn this lesson from nature. The migrating birds are either here or moving through, the trees are just starting to leaf out, the daffodils are just about to open and then…..SNOW. Yet, in most cases they just keep right along or making slight adaptations to manage through it. I’m doing a similar thing today. I had outside plans, but this weather and my plans didn’t mix. I made a few changes and now I’m on the couch with a cozy blanket and cup of tea. That’s flexibility, right? 😉

One of my outdoor plans today was to pull the overwintered parsnips and carrots out of the garden. It is such a treat enjoy fresh in April what was planted in summer last year. Fresh is so very appreciated this time of year – from that harvested from last year’s planted, along with fresh greens from seeds recently sown in the High Tunnel.

Fresh Kale picked from the high tunnel!

As a gardener and reader, I come across different sayings and quotes that have the tune of gardening, but carry deeper meaning, as interpreted by the reader. Here’s one of those quotes by a wise unknown.

“The day you plant the seed, is not the day you eat the fruit.”

Unknown.

We’ve recently been planting a lot of seeds, along with harvesting the fruit (or roots in the case of carrots and parsnip), so I get this quote. It’s literal. But, it really gets me thinking about it metaphorically as well. This summer we’ll be celebrating our 4th year as permanent, full-time residents of White Sky Woods, but we started planting the “seeds” long before making this major move to homesteading and yurt life. Maybe the “seeds” were little ideas of what our homestead could be like, or maybe a “seed” was a purchase that allowed us to achieve something more, like fencing the garden so our real seeds could safely grow.

Sometimes we plant “seeds” in the form of positive ideas that we don’t even know will grow. Maybe the “seed” is an idea that you’re passionate about and you do everything to grow the “seed” by learning, practicing, dreaming, and doing. All these efforts help the “seed” grow, but depending on what is meant to be, it may or may not be productive enough to ever pick the “fruit”.

Maybe you plant a “seed” as just a passing thought and it magically grows on its own without much input and then suddenly there is “fruit” and you feel grateful. These “fruits” are surprising and sometimes even go unnoticed because the “seed” was such a passing thought.

Maybe in another case the “seed” you plant is an idea that is critical, damaging, or negative. We can grow these seeds too, and these kinds typically have “fruit” that is more akin to thorns. For some of us, these are the easiest “seeds” to grow, but I’d say that for all of us, the least welcome “fruit.”

Everyday as a family we take time at dinner to say what we are grateful for. It’s such a positive practice. Sometimes we have small things, and sometimes big ones. But, it’s great practice to make note of what “seeds” we are planting and what “fruits” have grown.

What “seeds” are you planting? What “fruit” will they or have they grown? I’d love to hear!

Steering in New Directions

Just as the weather and seasons change and can be unpredictable, so sometimes are things here on the homestead. In the past 3.5 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes! As newbie homesteaders since 2017, we’ve been enjoying and exploring various opportunities that homesteading offers. For instance, in year one we bought 2 pigs, bred them, and then raised and sold their young in year two. In that time we learned to castrate piglets and raise them on rotational grazing on pasture. We learned how to butcher a young pig, inseminate a sow (although unsuccessful) and then butchered a 615# sow on our own. We could never had predicted any of that journey, but we did give it all of our heart and soul. There were ups and downs and I don’t regret any of it. We learned what we think we would or wouldn’t do again and we’re open-minded to the idea that overtime, that could change.

Two years ago we decided to explore another opportunity, working with young calves to train them to oxen to have working draft animals here. We brought home Nels and Wiit and raised them from calves. We trained them for work. They learned commands like come up, woah, gi, and haw. They went on daily walks, they grazed the pastures all summer long. They learned to pull, and boy did the kids love getting sled rides down the road.

Early Winter 2019, Tim takes Wiit and Nels on a training walk – pulling our kids and a friend in the sled!

In year two we had a few road blocks to training. Both Tim and I had injuries which made handling large animals challenging. Also, renovating the cabin and managing a growing garden and high tunnel were full time jobs on top of our regular work. Unfortunately this combination of circumstances impacted the amount of work we were able to do with Nels and Wiit. They still had their daily walks to pasture and received plenty of love.

2020 was a tiring year for us. As we came into the new year I spent a lot of time thinking about priorities and simplifying life. Tim had been doing the same. One evening we found ourselves reflecting on our past year and the year ahead, ideas that had been in our minds were vocalized and after taking a week’s time to think about the discussion and options, a hard decision was made. It was time to make some changes to downsize our responsibilities and costs. It was time to take a new direction, away from our original ideas. This includes several changes, with the biggest being choosing not to proceed with training Nels and Wiit for draft and no longer keeping them. When we spoke with some friends about this, they expressed interest in buying for beef. With hearing this, we knew that this hard decision was just made clear. We’d choose good food over the attempt to sell trained young steer in a region where this type of activity is rare. While our vision of draft for Nels and Wiit didn’t come to complete fruition, it was an incredibly enriching two years of time for us and friends who spent time with them, and as it goes for the cows they had a great life. They were cared for holistically and loved and they will provide healthy, tasty food for four local families who will enjoy meat raised within just five miles of their homes.

With a trailer rented from a friend, we loaded up the cows. We were so nervous they wouldn’t load, but their training really came in handy. With some simple guidance, they went into the trailer with no trouble. They made the trip to the processing facility (we didn’t want to take on this scale of project ourselves) and were easily loaded off. The homestead is already very quiet without their presence, since they always greeted anyone with mooing. As with all our animals, the decision to end a life is never easy. Also with all our animals that end as a meal, we have extreme gratitude for the opportunity to connect with them and have them enrich our lives during their time here and for the nourishment they provide for us after.

Well fed, but begging for food, early winter 2020.

The homestead feels different now, but we are moving along with thanks in our hearts. We continue to evaluate what’s right for us and where to put our focus. We will always be learning and doing, adapting and changing. Sometimes this leads to tears and sometimes to joy and we’ll live it to the fullest. Life is good.

It’s seed starting time so the smell of dirt is in the air! Also, we’re wrapping up all the rehab and remodeling work on the vacation rental cabin and getting ready to list it for booking! Stay in touch on Instagram and Facebook for a sneak peek of it all!

Wishing you abundant peace, love and nature,

-L

A Slow, Simple, and Intentional Life

When I was 38 years old (I’m 41 now), we made a big change. With a lot (tons really) of planning, we moved our family of four to our land and newly built yurt several hundred miles away from where we were living and working. White Sky Woods Homestead became our new home, starting a whole new way of life. Basically everything we knew, our daily routines, our responsibilities, our income, our overall way of life changed.

A beautiful autumn sunrise over our home.

It took a lot of adapting for me to go from career-driven working mom to a part-time work from home, homesteader, stay at home and homeschooling mom. I’m still adjusting! My way of life is so different now, which is exactly what the goal of this major change was, but it’s been almost like restarting life. Adapting and learning how to live in this new way. This is akin to graduating college and getting your first job, or becoming empty nesters, or retiring.

I had to learn how to find my new “identity”. I had just spent 13 years in a career which fulfilled my quest for learning, personal and professional growth, and gave me opportunities to feel successful and appreciated in my work. Overnight, my new role became managing a homestead, our family’s well-being and security through self-reliance, my kids’ education, and many less significant things. Once I somewhat got a hold on this, I realized I was missing something. I couldn’t quite put a finger in it, but it seemed that although this was all on track with how I wanted it to be, I didn’t really have anything for me. Everything I was doing was for others and parenting especially is one of the most thankless jobs. I didn’t have that outside thing for just me anymore…where I could be successful and get credit and enjoy something for just myself. When I realized this, I started to seek opportunities for me to have a chance to “adult”, specifically doing something that gave me personal purpose. Because my programming is to be driven and successful and seemingly prove myself through work, I kept seeking, kept finding more things to fill this drive. I volunteered, got hired, coordinated groups, taught, got hired more, advanced our own business, and so on. I took on more and more and more. I tried to find worth through the work and the busyness. I was starting to repeat a pattern (I see this now) that I’ve had in my life…the pattern of existence where I’m more of a human “doing” than a human “being.”

Then, March 2020 intervened. At this point in time I was starting to recognize a problem I had created as I was facing burnout. I had just took on two new, great opportunities. Everything I was doing seemed so positive, but, I was stressed out and finding that home/work/me balance was becoming near impossible. When the pandemic shut-down began in mid-March, my calendar started to clear and my eyes started to open to a pace that was more preferred. Basically, a pace where we weren’t rushing or running from one thing to the next. We moved up here to escape the rat race of work and society, but somehow, here I was in it again…I created my own rat race. I had defaulted to my own flawed programming of finding worth or value in being busy. Yuk. It wasn’t good for me or my family.

Some things had to change but I needed time to process what this change looked like. What was in my life that wasn’t serving my wellness and my soul? These were the things that went first. It was really tough to make these choices, because quitting sucks. Another part of my flawed programming tells me that when you quit something, you’ve failed. But that, my friends, is FALSE!

I readjusted after these changes, but it was still challenging. My drive kicked back in and once summer came I was working 10-12 hour days, often 7 days a week keeping busy growing, farming, maintaining, doing my paid jobs, parenting, providing for my family, keeping a home, etc. When you live where you work, work is always in your face. It’s inescapable unless you make a point to not focus on it. I know a lot of people can relate, especially once work moved into the house due to the pandemic. When you have an obnoxiously strong commitment to competence or perfectionism or whatever it is, it is hard to break away and those kinds of hours and days worked are just not sustainable for anyone.

It was time to recognize this, once again, and start figuring out what steps I needed to take to get myself in a more healthy and sustainable place and focused more on what mattered. But wait, what was it that mattered again? Oh yeah, this huge life change was about things being more SIMPLE. A slower life. A life focused on family, friends, self, and community. A life immersed in nature. A life that is not managed for us, but BY us. A sustainable life in all ways: financially, environmentally, socially, personally, emotionally…to name a few. The choices I make for myself and that we make as a family should point back to this. So, I wrote that focus down. Then, I listed the things I’m doing and would like to be doing. I compared them all to the idea of a simple and sustainable life. I crossed things off. I thought about it. I talked with Tim and friends about it. I crossed more things off. I rested on it some more and then I started again to take actions to get myself into a place where I am comfortable and where I’m closer to simplicity. This took some more quitting things, some delegation, some reframing how I choose to let things make me feel, and so forth. It’s dirty work, almost more dirty than mucking the cow shelter.

The end of the year is near, and I’m feeling a lightness from the changes. I see a light toward even more changes. I now have a clear direction and a few specific things to be focused on. I am invested in these things and have chosen them with purpose. They may be overwhelming at times, anything can be. I’m ready to accept that and/or notice when things are out of balance and then do something about it. I also have some new routines that bring balance and self-care to my life. New patterns and habits that make space for me. Having space for me has allowed me to be much more present to my family and the work I do. I haven’t arrived to anything perfect, because perfect is not authentic and is not real. I’m a work in progress, ongoing.

Winter solstice light.

I recently saw a statement that said “joy is an act of resistance.” We are surrounded by so much that pulls us away from who we authentically are and that keeps us from the joy we all have the right to. Society is in constant critique of those who don’t fit norm. But, if the norm is being part of something that keeps joy from people, then count me out.

Our homesteading life brings me so much joy and freedom. I’m am surrounded by friendships that are healthy and strong and allow me to be authentically me. My family supports me even when I’m anxious, stressed, confused, etc. My work here on the homestead is exactly where my heart is. Schooling our kids at home, in nature, academically and eclectically, is allowing them to explore and grow in their own unique way. These things are what matter to me and I am so grateful to have the freedom to live this way. I write this blog for those who maybe have had a similar journey as mine and also to help me be accountable to myself.

I’ve created a mantra for 2021. Live a slow, simple and intentional life, unabashedly. Do you have one? Plan to create one? I’d love to hear about it.

Wishing you peace, love and nature,

-L

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

In Summer of 2020, we had our 3 year anniversary of full-time residence and homesteading at White Sky Woods! We usually have a celebration, inviting friends, sharing food around the bonfire, but we didn’t do that this year – you know, pandemic. It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years already … It’s hard to believe it’s only been 3 years! As with most things in life, the longer you do something, the more likely you recognize trends. Things become more predictable year to year. The homestead also brings some predictability of sentiments, such as the one that titles the blog.

Early snow, mid-October 2020

As a homesteader, the majority of the heavy work we do takes place April – October. Everything revolves around the outdoor work and the garden: planting, growing, harvesting, putting up the food. It takes a lot of care and effort to manage a garden that supplies our food for a year for us plus a touch more for what we grow for the farm stand. I love the work! I love being active and connecting with the land. Doing all the work means bringing my family and community healthy food. That’s one reason we made the life transition from rat race to homesteading.

By the time August rolls around, I’m starting to feel generally overwhelmed. This past summer there was a lot of work done to build more of the foundation for our business, and the workload was worth it, but intense. By August, it feels like everything is a rush, balancing work and play becomes nearly impossible, it can be tiring and overwhelming. This is when I start to daydream about a slower pace: reading books, spending casual time with friends, focusing on work I’ve been putting off, getting back to things I enjoy that summer doesn’t afford time for, and traveling beyond the homestead. In its absence, all these things grow fonder in my mind.

Then comes October, and the panic really sets in. Will everything be prepped for winter, before the snow hits? Do we have enough food? How about firewood? This year I had in my mind that our major outdoor work would be wrapped up by November 1st, and I’d gracefully slide right into our calmer winter months. Something a little different happened. We started getting snow in mid-October and in my mind I surrendered to the fact not everything was getting done as planned. Then by early November it turned back to summer (it was 70 degrees this week – crazy!). These little flukes require flexibility. Nothing on the homestead is graceful.

Last minute harvesting before the snow comes. Rutabaga!

Once winter sets in, the pace changes. There are still chores, homeschooling, community volunteering, employment and other regular responsibilities but the light of the days are short and the dark nights are long. We spend as much time enjoying the daylight as possible – snowshoeing, kids playing outside, and training time with our two young steer. There is more time to focus inward as well as spending extra time catching up on reading, handiwork, personal education, and generally time to do whatever ever sparks our interest. It’s really nice compared to the summer’s demands. It’s the break I yearn for during the end of summer when I’m overwhelmed and just plain tired.

By January we are ordering seeds. In February we shift to thinking more about summer projects and garden planning. By March we’re starting seeds inside (although all of this will probably look different in 2021 since we have the high tunnel to grow in, yay!). Suddenly, we feel an absence of summer and our heart grows fonder for those sunny days in the garden and we are eager for winter to be over so we can get to work outside.

Is it the human way to yearn for something we have absence of? I think most homesteaders who love what they do would agree, the work is great, but the rest is necessary. And once we’ve had the rest, we get antsy and ready to get back to the work. In this lifestyle, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder and is part of the work/rest cycle.

I recently attended the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network 2020 Virtual Conference and it was invigorating. Being held in November, it was reassuring to have conversations with other women who are experiencing end of season burnout. I took several sessions about how to support my well-being (something I generally suck at). Engaging in the conference was a form of self-care. I decided the best way for me to focus on the Virtual Conference was to do a little get-away to a place where I wouldn’t be distracted by my normal responsibilities. I’m grateful my family supported me in this. The conference was a great way to help me shift from end-of-season to off-season.

I know that in a few months I’ll be eager to have back the hard-working summer months, but until then I look forward to focusing on what is here, now, and creating new habits to help prevent burnout next summer.

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Foraging on the Homestead

I love all the seasons of the Keweenaw, but when it comes to foraging, oh my how summer does provide! Recently we had a filming here about Keweenaw foraging – for the show “Discovering” on 906 Outdoors. (We had a winter filming too, maybe you’d like to check it out!) After the filming (I’ll share the link on social when it’s ready!), I was reflecting on how I became a forager. I couldn’t quite put a finger on any specific experience or moment. More so that foraging sorta slowly sneaked its way into my life. It probably started with our move here to White Sky Woods. While the garden and fruit trees were just getting established, we foraged wild berries from all over our property. I probably didn’t call it foraging though, just picking. At the time, I had known through focusing on a natural foods diet, that some plants in nature were medicinal, such as raspberry leaf. I remember this being one of the first things foraged once we moved here, and it was so exciting that I blogged about it!

As we were out picking fruit, I started to see new plants I didn’t know. So, being the naturally curious person I am, I started out learning the identifications of many of the plants on our land – from trees to grasses and all the things between (I met a lot of amazing animal life along the way too). As I became more familiar with the plants we share our home with and developed the ability to identify them in various growing stages, I started to learn more about the properties of the plants and how they could benefit us and what we could do to provide for them. I fumbled a lot in the beginning, having problems with identification retention, but the more I was out with the land, the more it came to me quickly. On hikes out on the woods, I soon found myself looking at all the plants and naming them in my mind as I passed by them. I still do this today, like saying hi to people you know on a busy street.

Hello St. John’s Wort. Your sunny beautiful flower will be a source of mental wellness come the long, Keweenaw winter nights.

Still, after many years identifying plants on our land (going back over a decade now), there are some that stump me every spring when they come up and I have to refresh my memory. But, there are the “old standards” that have become a part of our foraging practice that I easily identify, harvest, and use for various purposes. The kids do too!

We do some foraging and harvesting for medicinal purposes, but for the most part, our focus is finding wild edibles and foraging that benefit our general wellness. Our favorites are the berries, but there is SO much more than that. This past winter we didn’t buy packaged tea because we had foraged enough from the land to provide our own healthy teas. Also, I created a few blends to sell at our farm stand.

When I’m out spending time with the land now, I think about how the land provides. I thank it. I think about what I can do to provide for it in return for its abundance. It’s a relationship of balance and respect and reciprocity. Just like one you would have with a partner or friend.

That is what the land is to me. While the food we forage is healthy for our bodies, the relationship with the land feeds my soul. We feed our body with food, and we can feed our soul with nature (vitamin N).

I thought about sourcing a whole bunch of beautiful pictures of nature for this post, but honestly, writing about the land has it calling to me. Now, it’s time for me to head up in the trees and forage Juneberries while watching my fingers get stained with the juices and listening and observing nature around me.

Peace, Love and Nature,

-L

July Digest 2020

07/06/20
Jacobsville, MI
White Sky Woods Homestead

Originally written for and published by MSU Extension – Michigan Small Farm Newsletter. The monthly digest intends to give a quick snapshot of what’s going on around here on the homestead. Since many of our subscribers do not get that publication, I post the article here too.

Bountiful wild foraging, several healthy litters of rabbits, progress on our homestead vacation rental and good feedback and sales from our first year farm stand have been some of the best highlights of the start of the summer season.  

Farm stand among the ferns and lupines.

The farm stand has been a rewarding new project. Every Saturday we sell 3 varieties of fresh baked bread and seasonally available produce fresh from our garden. We serve a very low population, seasonal, rural community, so bringing small amounts of fresh produce to sell each Saturday is our goal. Recently it’s been all about greens, but soon we’ll start having more variety such as snap peas, green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and more. We also sell jellies and jams made from hand-foraged wild edibles along with herbal teas, also sourced from hand-foraged wild edibles, all harvested in our own property.  We do everything on a small and personally sustainable scale.

Aphids, grasshoppers and maybe other pests in the garden, some struggles with root crops (maybe thanks to the aforementioned pests), a broken down chainsaw, lack of time and extreme heat have been some of the challenges of the summer season.

We are thankful to say in the past 3 years of gardens we haven’t had much problem with pests, but year 4 of the garden is giving us new challenges. The great news is that we have much more growing space with the new high tunnel so if we lose some crops while trying to naturally manage the pests, our harvest will hopefully still be on track. However, some of the harvest will be missing almost completely: our beets, rutabaga, and parsnip.  We’ve done several replantings and the best we can come up with is that the plants are being gobbled up by the grasshoppers or another pest immediately after emerging.  If anyone has had this problem in the past, we would be so thankful to hear from you on what the pest was and what natural solutions were implemented. 

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Cheers! Peace, Love and Nature,

-L

May/June Digest 2020

Originally written for and published by MSU Extension – Michigan Small Farm Newsletter. The monthly digest intends to give a quick snapshot of what’s going on around here on the homestead. Since many of our subscribers do not get that publication, I post the article here too.

06/16/20
Jacobsville, MI
White Sky Woods Homestead

So much has been going on around here it’s hard to keep track of what’s been done, we just keep our eyes forward on the calendar and projects and spend most of the time doing the work and less time thinking about what there is to do. It’s been non-stop (and we hope that we feel some relief soon). But, in the past month we did have a major project that we are so excited to have completed – our high tunnel!  

Over a year and a half ago we started the application process for the NRCS high tunnel initiative grant. The high tunnel arrived by delivery on Saturday, 5/23 and about 1 ½ weeks later the project was complete. We managed to put most of the tunnel together with 1-2 people and then were so thankful to receive support from friends with a tractor to raise the bows to attach to the posts and again to install the cover for the roof. The high tunnel growing space is 30’x48’.

Once the high tunnel was built Tim created the planting rows, hooked up the drip tape watering system and I got to planting. Everything was planted in the garden by the time I started the high tunnel planting, it’ll be interesting to compare staggered plantings, ripening times, etc.

We’ll use the tunnel to extend our season on the front and back ends, as a place to plant sensitive plants (we just had an overnight frost on 6/13), increase our growing space, and allow us to produce more for ourselves and our community (produce for sale at our farm stand). The plants I’m most excited about in the high tunnel that we’ve struggled with outside are: eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and tomatillos. While many of these grow in the outdoor garden, there were extra challenges we’ve met along the way, including in some cases never getting to the point of mature fruits/vegetables.

Now that the garden and high tunnel are planted, watering and keeping up with the weeding needs our attention until the produce starts coming. Until then, we’ll redirect to finishing up our major project, the cabin for vacation rental.  This project has been going on for over a year and we are very eager to have the construction done, the cabin furnished, and to begin welcoming guests to stay on the homestead as a place to rest, get back to nature, or see what homesteading is like.

Be well,

-L

3 Year Anniversary

Today we’re celebrating our 3 year anniversary at White Sky Woods Homestead. If you don’t know the origin story check out the original announcement, or read a little recap around this time 3 years ago, check it out.

Reflecting on it by looking around the homestead, the amount of hard work we’ve put in and infrastructure we’ve established…it feels like it’s been much longer than 3 years. Yet, memories of what daily life was like prior to the move are still fresh, so it somehow also barely feels like 3 years.

These past few months of pandemic shut downs has, as a friend noted, underlined, bolded and exclamation pointed the confirmation of what the homestead means in our life. We didn’t need more reasons to be thankful for being here, but we found more during this time.

Usually this time of year we have a large gathering of friends for our Yurt Life Celebration, Anniversary party. Because of restrictions and adjusting to the “new normal”, the party is not planned….for now. Past parties have been great food (potluck style), good friends having good conversation, new friendships forming, kids playing (and maybe getting stung by wasps…let’s not have that again), garden tours, ponds and woods hikes, bonfire enjoyment, and last year we even had instruments sing-alongs by the fire.

In reflection of today, I gathered some photos to highlight a bit about life around here as it is today. I’ve taken thousands of photographs over the past 3 years, but I’ll just share a few recent ones ;).

Sometimes I just step back and wonder…how did we get so fortunate?

Drone image of the central homestead area in winter. Image courtesy of Kristin Ojaniemi.

There are many quaint moments.

Witt, one of our oxen in training, grazing near the yurt.

And plenty of WTH moments.

Juneberry the goat, stuck in her hay feeder.

There is beauty across the landscape.

Quarry pond at winter.

And beauty in the little things; you have to be willing to look closely to observe it.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer on alder branch.

There is eating what we grow, make from scratch and forage.

Counter-clockwise L to R: Sauteed stinging nettle and asparagus, homemade rustic bread, and pizza casserole made with garden goods. Our anniversary meal!

There is growing healthy and humanely raised food for others.

Rabbits.

We share this land with our wild friends.

White-tailed deer enjoying a fall snack in our wildflowers.

And what were most thankful for are all the friends we’ve made here on the Keweenaw along with the friends and family who’ve come to visit and enjoy this place with us.

It’s been a grand 3 years! Thank you for following our journey!

Peace, love and nature,
-L

April 2020 Digest

Originally written for and published by MSU Extension – Michigan Small Farm Newsletter. The monthly digest intends to give a quick snapshot of what’s going on around here on the homestead. Since many of our subscribers do not get that publication, I post the article here too.

05/02/20
Jacobsville, MI
White Sky Woods Homestead

It’s amazing what difference a month can make! The snow is gone. Green life is coming up from the ground, now we are just waiting for the trees to leaf out and really make it seem like spring here on the Keweenaw.

This week the focus will be hardening off and then planting some of our cole crops: broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Some snap peas and shelling peas have already been sown and another batch will be sown in another week. Carrots, parsnips and rutabaga seeds will find themselves in the ground in the upcoming days too. The garlic planted last fall and all our perennial plants are coming up nicely.

An exciting garden moment this spring was the harvest of our overwintered carrots and parsnips. Oh what a treat! Not only to go out there in the empty garden and pull out food, but the sweetness of the carrots and parsnips was out of this world!  It was our first year experimenting with overwintering these two crops in the ground and we will with certainty be doing it again and with a larger amount.

Carrots and parsnips after overwintering in the garden.

What we refer to as our north garden is almost completely cleaned up from the November snow storm. The fence is back in position, finally keeping the deer out!  All the downed branches have been cut and chipped and the last step is to remove the logs which will be used for firewood. It has several more plantings now too – 3 varieties of elderberry, 25 hazelnut, and 5 goji berries. Plus we’ve moved about 20 thornless blackberries plants from an unmaintained garden to the north garden along with some grapes. 

We are anxiously anticipating the coming of our high tunnel. It will be delivered in mid-May and then we’ll be spending the next few weeks assembling it. Along with this big project, we’re also working hard to finish up the work on the cabin in hopes to have it open this summer as a farm stay, AirBNB. Also in May and early June the remaining veggies will be planted in the garden and high tunnel. We’ve ramped up planting a bit in hopes to bring produce to our farm stand this year. It’s our first year with the farm stand! We are currently selling jams/jellies, fresh baked bread once a week, and soon wild-foraged herbal teas with the addition of fresh produce in the summer. In mid-May, we will also be expecting baby goats. Needless to say, May and early June are crunch time! We’re feeling the pressure as so many small farmers are, but the future is bright!

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Jacobsville Farm Stand (Guest Blog)

Note from Lisa: The following post is from a guest blogger, our 10-year old daughter, Flora.

Hi everyone! We have recently been working on building a farm stand! It is exciting to us because now we will offer our yummy homestead products to our local community. We will be sharing the farm stand with our neighbors Beth and Gene who own Circle Back Farm, they sell organic maple syrup. They have had a small maple syrup stand but this new one will be replacing it and will include produce and farm goods that our family grows and makes.

Here is how we built the farmstand:

First, my Dad and I did research on the internet to see what other farm stands looked like. We decided on what ours should look like and my Dad drafted a model on a computer program. I helped by taking notes on all the pieces and their measurements so we would be ready to build. Once we started building, we measured the lengths that our wood would have to be cut at and we cut the pieces of wood to their proper lengths. Next, we put the whole thing together with screws. The wood we used is milled by my Dad and is from local trees.

We had to do some problem solving on figuring out how our money slot was going to work. We also had to do some extra problem solving on how the roof was going to work and what it would be made of. Once we figured out we were going to make it out of metal, we had to cut the metal to the correct lengths. Then we had to stand on a ladder and screw the metal onto the roof frame. 

My favorite part of building the farm stand was the problem solving that was involved in building the farm stand. The reason I like the problem solving so much is because it really makes me think, come up with a new plan, and then test my new plan.

The farm stand will have jams and jellies, fresh produce, home baked bread, and hand foraged herbal tea from White Sky Woods. It will also have my favorite maple syrup from Circle Back Farm. There might be other new things during the season too!

The farm stand is be located on the side of the road near the mailbox at 40726 Red Rock Rd., Jacobsville. We hope you will come and check it out! 

This is me at the farm stand!

Note from Lisa: I’ll be posting product updates on Facebook and Instagram during the season. The early season will have our Forager’s Delight Fruit Spread for sale and 1 or more varieties of fresh baked rustic bread delivered by 10 a.m every Saturday (starting May 2nd). We also have duck eggs and rabbit available for sale, if interested in those, please contact me directly!