A Changing Landscape - Spring Lake Homestead
I am so excited to share all of the things that we are currently working on here, that I don’t know where to begin! It’s going to be such a crazy year with so many, many changes to come 🙂 I’m not sure how much we are going to be able to accomplish this year, but based on what we have been able to do so far, I’m feeling pretty good about the changes to come. We had several things slow us down last year, most notably our little baby E, but he’s almost a year old now, and my energy level is in a completely different place than it was last year. This year is all about a changing landscape. Actually, it’s all about expansion, but that expansion is leading to a dramatically changed landscape. I’m not sure where I should begin, but I guess I’ll start at the “front” of our property and work our way back. Recently I wrote about how our willow trees along the road were cut down. I hated to see them go, but they really were too close to the road and obstructed the view from the end of the driveway, making it a bit unsafe to all coming and going. I immediately took cuttings from the willows and planted them 10 or 15 feet back from the road…what the township told me would be a safe distance. So for now, it’s a waiting game to see if they take root, but it shouldn’t be a problem since the soil there is always moist, something willows love. It wasn’t just the willows that blocked the view, some of our fruit trees were in need of a good pruning, and there was one box elder tree that was impeding the growth of our fruit trees as well, adding to the blocked view from the end of our drive. I loved that our yard had a decent amount of privacy from the road, so deciding how to handle each of those issues was hard. But in the end, Scott finished pruning all of the fruit trees which is beneficial for multiple reasons, and he removed the box elder tree. It is amazing to me how much cleaner the yard looks now! After months of waiting, I finally finished cleaning up the flower bed along the south side of the house. There were no borders, which can be okay, but it meant that grass and weeds were encroaching on the flowers’ space which made it difficult to even see the flowers! I added a border to the garden back in fall, and had started to dig up and replant portions of the bed, but it sat like that until the weather began warming again. I dug up everything, divided flowers, and dispersed everything in (hopefully) a more even and consistent manner. I don’t care terribly about having a perfectly symmetrical garden or anything like that, but it was just too chaotic the way it was. Now everything should come up more evenly and it’s mulched, which should help a bit with all of the grass and weeds. All of this yard work is beginning to really make the paint job on the house look shabby! If you continue on down the road along the front of our property, you’d come to the secret garden next. I know, it’s not a secret. But it was when we moved here! It was just a patch of overgrown grass with a few surprises throw in, something we gave very little thought to, and it’s being converted into a garden space. This garden is mostly going to be focused on flowers, but I’m trying to figure out ways to add edibles to the landscape as well. Last year we planted one cherry tree in one side of the garden, and I put in a few perennial plants, but that was about as far as I was able to get. This year, I have been laying down landscaping fabric and wood mulch to create boarders and walking paths. I am hoping to do a lot more with the space this year, but if this is all the further I get, I’ll be happy. I am pretty sure we will be adding several other dwarf fruit trees this year, and I have been putting strawberries into the wood chip boarders. I’ll be moving perennials from a few places throughout the yard into The Secret Garden as I have the time and ambition to do so, but there will probably be daffodils and tulips and irises moved into there over the weekend. The kids also get a flower bulb (or bulbs) every year in their Easter baskets, so I’m sure we’ll be planting those in there as well. As it turns out, I think this space will end up transforming much faster than I anticipated it to last year! I am desperately hoping to be able to build my roadside stand this year, and that will be stationed between The Secret Garden and the barn. And the barn will continue to be disassembled as we either have a need for the wood or the time to work on it. So far, there hasn’t been any time, but I think that when the bulk of the garden preparations are done, that there will be more work done on the barn…probably around July. If you look past the barn, back further into the land, you might notice a little white structure sitting on the edge of the field. That’s our new chicken tractor! My father-in-law was kind enough to take the time to build it for us, which was a huge time-saver for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Now we definitely have a place to put our first batch of meat chickens when they arrive! Yes, we are doing meat chickens again. Our first batch is coming in on May 17th, and we are getting one, maybe two more batches after that. We’ll do one batch a month so that we can stagger our butchering, because we are getting 100 chickens for ourselves and potentially another 50 for some family! Funny story…we just finished using up the chickens we butchered in fall ( I would have used them faster, but I was “rationing” them), and I purchase chicken breasts from the store for the first time since then. We thought it was terrible. Honestly, I had a hard time eating it. It really surprised me that I felt that way, but the texture was so strange! I couldn’t believe what a difference it was, because I didn’t feel like I really noticed a difference when we switched from store-bought to home grown. It was enough for us to know that we’ll be raising our own chickens from here on out! So getting back to the chicken tractor…we have one right now, but we are hoping to build one, maybe 2 more yet this year, since the one tractor won’t be enough. Scott cut a lane for the tractor to be pulled through, but as the tractors get pulled around, we’ll have to cut more grass. Our field will actually begin to become a grazing field! The field portion of our land is divided into two sections, because there is a stream that runs through the land. One field will be grazing land, and the other will be for planting things. And I’m so excited that we are going to be using a portion of that field this year (about 1/4)! I mentioned in some other posts that we would be expanding our garden, and we are. Significantly. It is going to be 5x bigger than it was last year, but we have a lot of plans for that space. Imagine a big rectangle divided into 6 cells. Each cell will have a different purpose. In a portion of the garden, we are planning to build a permanent greenhouse that will be multi-functional, and the rest will rotate from year to year. One year, a cell will serve as a chicken run, and the chickens will work on improving the soil for us, and the next year they will move to another cell, and so on and so on. We will have one cell be crops that are short, like carrots and greens, and another one or two for full-season crops, like tomatoes. We’ll probably have one cell be cucumbers or melons (vining things), and I think this year we may let the kids use one cell for their gardens. We don’t necessarily need such a large garden, but we want to grow enough food for our family for a year, and I would like to have a roadside stand, so we need to be able to grow enough for our needs, plus some extra. Well, the garden isn’t taking up a quarter of that field, in fact it only touches a portion of that field that we cut. The remainder will become our new pumpkin patch this year, and we will also be working to put in a permanent berry patch. I got this idea in my head that I would like that field to be something special, so it’s not just going to be your standard field. We’re trying to come up for a name for it, but so far all we have is that it is going to be a “pie” field, because it will be divided into portions like pie slices. This year will be about laying the groundwork for our long-term development of that space. One slice will have nut trees/bushes in it, and in fact, I am hoping to be able to plant some nut trees in there tomorrow! The center of this pie will be a big open circle where we will have our fire pit and a picnic area. We’re moving our current fire pit because it will be too close to where we are going to have our greenhouse. We will also have some paths running through this pie slice, wide enough to walk or drive the lawn mower through, one of which goes straight from the house to the pond. So let’s continue to the changes back there. I know I wrote of it recently, but we took cuttings from our willow trees that were removed and planted them as a border around the ponds. They seem to be doing alright, leaves are opening up, but we probably won’t really know how they are doing for a few months yet. Someday they will create quite a view from the house! And last but not least, there will be bees! We don’t have them yet, and we still have some prep work to do, but Scott is going to be heading up the bee experiment. For now, the plan is to put the bee hives along the walking path near the pond, but it will certainly be a change to the landscape to have them there! The best part of all, to me, is that all of these changes are already underway, and most will be fully established by the end of May! It makes me wonder what else will be different before the year is out…We’ve been able to accomplish so much more in a short period of time, and without a new baby and some of the other obligations that came up last summer, we will have significantly more time to work on the things we want to work on. I hope you stick around to see what else changes! I wish I had better before and after pictures, but I guess we will have more as things change. I should really spend a day just snapping pictures! And I wish that I could somehow show you what I am picturing in my mind…no drawing could do it justice 🙂 I’d like to hear from you! What changes that we’ve made intrigue you the most? What is something we are doing that...
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