(Scroll down for information about what is going on around our farm - last page update 8/16/2017)
Over the years this section has become kind of a litany of the morphing of our farm.
Our main focus is raising Boer and Boer/Kiko cross goats. We are building our herd to include some top blood-lines and quality stock. After a few years of raising the Boer and Kiko meat breeds we decided in 2012 to add Myotonic lines into the herd. We want our emphasis to be on healthy, parasite resistant, quick gaining stock. Our goal is to provide quality stock for breeding and meat purposes. With the addition of some Myotonic does and a Myotonic buck, we are also going to offer a limited number of "fainting goat" pets. We try to keep our animal husbandry practices as "natural" as possible. Some ways we do this are by worming only as necessary, using rotational grazing, using naturally parasite resistant stock and using herbal remedies whenever possible. Antibiotics and other medications are ONLY used as necessary life-saving measures . Worming is done on a limited scale, based on fecal test results. At some point in time we would like to become Famacha certified. Starting in the fall of 2013 we have started making the slow transition to 100% natural animal husbandry practices. This will take us a little while to work on our feed ration formulas and build up our all natural pharmacopeia. Sometime in 2014 we will begin maintaining a closed herd. From there we plan on getting fully tested as a CL, CAE and Johnes free herd. NOTE: We are very near to closing our herd. With the exception of one or two more does we intend to purchase we are DONE (well of course other than keeping some of our best doe kids to expand the herd). We added Pygora to our herd in 2013 but found the smaller more delicate goats did not combine well with our larger meat herd. We regretfully sold those does and are still looking for the perfect larger fiber animal for us. UPDATE: At the end of 2014 we made the very difficult decision to (for the time being) eliminate the Myotonic line from our herd. UPDATE: Now again in 2016 we decided to return to Myotonic goats! In 2017 we brought in some of the best meat lines from IA, OH, KY and MS. We have also been tossing around the idea of getting into showing our myotonics, we'll see where that goes.
In keeping with trying to utilize our land without over using it we try to maintain natural gardening and animal husbandry practices. We have two horses which are for pleasure riding and driving, but they help us by "giving back" to the land. They are the largest contributors to our wonderful compost pile, which in turn helps us grow some of the best all natural garden vegetables we've ever had. Although we are by no means fully organic, we use no chemicals on our plants or grounds. We use manual weed control and manual/natural insect control. We use rotational planting and compost to maintain healthy soil in our small garden plot. We utilize methods such as companion planting to boost yields as well as maintain some natural pest control.
A few fruit trees: pear, peach, plum, apple, mulberry and cherry make up our "orchard". Although some are newly planted, we do have a few mature trees already established and producing.
Since my blackberry/black raspberry jam is my favorite canning recipe, I made sure we got a few good patches of berries in as soon as we moved. We have since added red and yellow raspberry species to the patch and hope to someday get enough berries to can a few jars of them as well. In the spring of 2011 I was given about 25 Heritage red raspberries by a friend. These have all been planted and will hopefully give us at least a small fall crop of berries. Update: We haven't been so lucky to have much of a harvest on our own acreage, but found a beautiful patch of wild red raspberries and another of big juicy blackberries which we utilize. In the summer of 2011 we gathered at least 6 gallons of berries from these "secret" patches. Update: We have finally gotten some blackberries to grow on the farm...of course we had to fence them off to keep the chickens from tearing them down. UPDATE: Adding a large blueberry patch in 2017.
Sunny early spring days bring the flow of maple sap and the making of maple syrup.....MMMM. Lot's of work and time involved, collecting the buckets and boiling down the sap, but so very well worth it.
Cold winter days bring not only cold outside chores, but perfect weather for quilting! I am learning the age old art of quilting. So far I love it and have had lots of success. In 2013 we added two Pygora does - Patty and Pepper - to our herd, but as mentioned they just didn't work out for us. I have purchased fibers to work with, but look forward to trying to spin some of the Angora rabbit fiber we have begun harvesting in mid 2014. I am hoping to add working some of our own fiber as another winter project. At the start of 2013 I began working on using a new drop spindle to spin purchased fibers, but will be working my own fiber this spring. In late 2017 a spinning wheel was added and the fiber bug bit me HARD.
Again in 2012 (what a busy year for us!) we added a pair of Satin rabbits to the homestead. We are hoping to integrate this additional meat source into our pantry as well as a supply of fine lovely pelts with that gorgeous satin sheen!! A Checkered Giant/Flemish doe has also been added to the rabbit barn. She has given us a couple of very fine litters of meat rabbits. In June 2014 we have now added Angora rabbits for their gorgeous fiber and a pair of Silver Fox rabbits for another good meat rabbit with fabulous pelts. In early 2015 we finally began adding Standard Rex! In 2017 we whittled our rabbits down to just our Rex and French Angoras.
In the fall of 2011 we added two Yorkshire/Old Spot gilts to our garden. They headed to the freezer in early spring - and were delicious. We did our own butchering, processing, curing and smoking. They did an awesome job tilling the soil and eradicating many weeds and grasses (from the seed heads to the roots) in the garden!! We sold one and the other made it into our freezer.
We also added a pair of Asian Heirloom Hogs to our breeding program. They are giving us the same rototilling action in the fall/winter/spring months as well as allowing us to breed our own feeder pigs, both for sale and our own consumption. Update: Our first litter of 5 AHH were born in May of 2012....oh boy are they adorable. We sold all but two and those two moved into the freezer late in 2012. They far surpassed any expectations of meat quality I had, being THE MOST delicious pork I have ever eaten. Not much produced in the way of bacon, but a few nice sets of ribs, hams and lots of ground pork fill up a large hole in our freezer. They also produced a good amount of lard that we rendered and find to be an awesome addition to our home-grown pantry.
A Mulefoot/Mangalitsa cross sow has been added to the farm. She is docile and friendly and we will be crossing her with our AHH boar.
In late 2017 we made ANOTHER addition (or three) to the farm family. We finally added KuneKune pigs. A breeding trio has been added.
Bees!! In the summer of 2013 we added a few empty hives to the property with hopes that we could lure in a swarm. In early July of 2013 a swarm moved in! We are still in the very beginning stages of this and really hope that we are able to keep the hive healthy and with us through out the rest of the summer and the upcoming winter. NOTE: our feral swarm did not survive the first winter. We will have added a full healthy hive again to the homestead in early October 2014. UPDATE: Once again little success in this hive surviving, but a nuc was added in the spring of 2015 and left with a huge honey supply for the winter of 2015/2016. We will keep our fingers crossed!
We finally have a pair of livestock guardian dogs (LGD). A female Great Pyrenees, Icee, was brought into our family in January 2012 at 7 weeks of age. Then in February 2012 we added a 7 month old male, Reign, to the mix. They are both beautiful, sweet dogs who take their jobs very seriously. We are very proud to be able to offer a few litters to other farms and families in need of wonderful dogs!! UPDATE: We lost our beautiful boy, Reign in the spring of 2015. We were hard pressed to find a suitable adult replacement for him. However we eventually found Bruno, a sweet tempered young male, in the summer of 2015. Izzy, a granddaughter to Icee and Reign, was added in 2015
We have one permanent barn cat (and a few nomads) named Carol. While Carol patrols for the ground dwellers (and snags her share of the milk at the milking stand), watch out for her leaping onto your shoulders! We also have two house cats, Titts Magee and Seven. We recently added another barn cat, who we call Pounce, to help control the mice in our rabbit barn. Pounce has graced us with a couple of litters of kittens (she will be fixed) and we decided to keep a young male we dubbed Crackers.
Our house is also home to two lovely wonderful house/farm dogs. Bailey is a Border Collie/German Wirehair cross born in 2009 and Buddy the Jack Russel Terrier who was born in 2007.
We added Australian Shepherds to help us work with our animals in 2017. Griz and Bear!
In January 2013 we added a 10 acre parcel to our original 2 acre piece. We still maintain most of our stock on the original two acres. The 10 acre addition has been mainly turned into a hayfield. We chose to fence off only 2 of the 10 acres to allow for more pasture for the horses.
UPDATE: in 2016 We decided to sell our riding horses and instead have two miniature horses who will hopefully be our cart horses. In 2018 we unfortunately decided to completely remove equines from the farm. It was a hard decision, but we felt it was best for our land.
Turkeys!! Our first foray into turkeys is beginning the spring of 2014. We will let you know how that progresses. UPDATE: We seem to have not very good luck with turkeys. We may try one more year in 2016, but if we continue to have high losses will will most likely no longer keep turkeys.
Muscovy ducks were added in the spring of 2014 also. A drake and three hens....and two of the hens began sitting on around 15 eggs each shortly after their arrival here so we also seem to have a good supply of ducklings. UPDATE: We have found the Muscovy ducks to be prolific and one of the best additions to our farm so far. We decided to add some show quality (most apparent in color) stock to our flock in 2017. We added a blue drake, two chocolate ripple hens and a lavender hen.
2014 has brought quite a few new things to the farm.....including A HEIFER. Ginger is a Jersey heifer we purchased at the age of one year. We look forward to having her bred and getting our first calf! We are also excited to be able to offer future herd shares with her. UPDATE: Ginger graced us with a bull calf in the summer of 2016. In 2017, we made another sad decision and sold our sweet Ginger. This gives us room though to add a new addition...SHEEP.
We had the oppurtunity to move to this beautiful area of Northern Michigan and we took it. My husband has his own homebased business, Ground Works Welding and Fabrication www.gwgroundworks.com/ and we decided since I would be leaving my job as a plant manager at a stainless steel furniture manufacturer that maybe finding a homebased business for myself would work out great for both of us. I personally couldn't think of anything I'd rather do than spend my days tending to the land and livestock. That has always been my lifelong dream, and now I'm living a dream. My mother is a superb breeder of Jacob sheep www.patchworkfibers.com and I have always envied her way of life. I had owned goats many years prior to beginning our adventure into meat goats, so had some experience with and lots of fond memories of goats. We also wanted to use our new small piece of land to its fullest. Having the oppurtunity, with many already in place outbuildings, we decided to increase our existing egg-laying flock by adding breeding stock in 2011 and doubling our laying flock in 2012. We are now able to offer chicks to the public.
We are Greg and Alina Wilson. My husband Greg and I both love the outdoors, animals and a quiet life. We love riding our horses on the lovely trails practically outside our backdoor. Since we live in an area deemed "the snow belt" of northern lower Michigan we wouldn't be complete without our snowmobiles for winter fun. We are blessed to be able to work at home together. We share our lives not only with each other, our families and our livestock, but with our four house dogs and three house cats.
Goat milk cheese is also on our to do list. We'll keep the site updated on our success (or lack there of) in these endeavors. We have been making soft cheeses (mozzarella, chevre, etc.) for awhile but still need to attempt some of the hard cheeses.
We are in an area that is ideal for harnessing the winds energy. In the slightly more distant future, after further research, we would love to add a home wind turbine to our set up.
Learning to tan the pelts of our rabbits is a big goal. My first attempt was a small failure due to some incomplete information in the "recipe" I had. We have plenty of pelts waiting in the freezer to try again. Once I get good at it, I hope to move on from rabbit pelts to goat and deer.
I was thinking that I might want to find a female LGD from either the Maremma or Anatolian breeds to become more of a dual purpose dog....both home and barn guardian.
Growing our own grains would be a huge boost to our self - sustainability here. This is a another step towards that goal we hope to attempt soon.
Keep track of our website and our Facebook Page for new additions, for sale listings, day to day life, contests, giveaways and other great info!