Ah, the beauty of a Michigan farm in autumn! This is one of our favorite times of the year. The leaves are going golden, the animals are getting shaggy, and the scents of apples and squash beckon comfortingly from the kitchen. We’ve had an extremely busy summer, finishing important projects (hello new barn roof!!) and finally hosting our wedding and adoption reception. We also had some fun additions to the farm – each with their own learning curve for us to conquer! Read to the end to hear about the latest critters to join The Buck Family on Dancing Feathers Farm.
We have a limited supply of Autumn Citrus soaps available right now in our online farm stand. They are absolutely delightful, suds up beautifully, are gentle enough for everyday use, and are made without preservatives, artificial scents, artificial or mica-based dyes, and manmade fragrance oil. Check them out here!
We are moving away from the over 30 different scent options we previously had for our balms and sticking with a few tried-and-true choices:
- Tea Tree
- Essential Oil Free
Sticking with 2 essential oil choices allows us to capitalize on bulk supplies so we can use the highest quality essential oils in the market. We have a few jars left with alternate scent options – grab them here before they’re gone forever!
What’s Growing Update
Our flowers are coming to a close and Jen has hundreds of blooms and herbs hanging in the kitchen for wreaths and teas this winter. We learned our soil isn’t well suited for seed crops and requires yearly compost amendment; sadly a lack of homegrown pumpkins, one of our favorites, was the sacrifice required to learn that lesson. Our cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, kale, beets, eggplant, ginger, sweet corn, zucchini, and herb gardens did fantastic! We’ve canned hundreds of jars of fresh fruits and vegetables and hope to fill more before the frost hits.
This year’s garden was a trial, to ease us into large-scale growing on this property. We’re so happy to see so many foods thriving with little to no intervention from us – means we have a real shot at taking the front south-facing pasture and turning it into a 2-acre plot of perennial cut flowers and fresh, delicious vegetables.
Jerry and Promise are currently housed together in the hopes we have little baby goats this spring. Jerry is in rut, and if you’ve never seen a goat in rut, we can attest it is something you can likely live happily without! He stinks to high heck and does the weirdest things to try and attract Promise’s attention.
Maggie and Mable, our two goat doelings, are doing well. We received results from our second round of testing – Maggie came back negative, but Mable is still showing positive for CAE, a destructive, incurable virus that requires responsible euthanasia. We aren’t willing to put Mable down without knowing for sure, however, and with Maggie testing negative and the two sharing the same space since birth, we think the last test results show there’s a chance Mable might test negative at her one-year mark. We’ll be waiting until then to make any decisions about these two beautiful girls.
Our new laying flock of 20 is doing fantastic – we’re getting at least a dozen eggs a day! If you’re in the Southwest Michigan area and are looking for fresh, truly free-range, non-GMO feed supplemented eggs, please let us know. We do purchase and pick up right here on the farm.
What’s Next Update
We’re overjoyed to share that our application with the USDA for a hoophouse and other cost-sharing programs is submitted – we’re in line! Jen delivered the farm’s updated business plan to the USDA representative just last week and the conversation was promising. We have a number of improvements we’re looking to make over the next five years; plans include:
- Seed Starting – Building a large-scale, weatherized indoor seed starting space, including shelving, lights, heat mats, ventilation, a water source, potting-up tables, and trays
- Composting – Developing a compost and manure setup, with a concrete pad and turn barrels to allow for turning/mixing
- Equipment – Purchasing a used ATV, both for property clearing/maintenance, planting, harvesting, and farm chores like manure removal and moving wood for winter heating
- Rainwater Collection – Establishing a rainwater collection system, complete with cisterns for all 3 of our large outbuildings, pumps and hoses for irrigation, and a filtration system for insect and disease control
- Rotational Grazing – Building new pastures for rotational grazing, including substrate for drylot water runoff, gates, electric fencing, ground rods and ground wiring, solar energizers, rain shelters, and water and feed access for dairy goats
- Raised Beds – Rebuilding the raised beds so we can plant herbs for a u-cut herb garden
- Hoophouse – Securing a grant from the USDA to cover part of the cost of a large-scale hoophouse, including doors, frame, skin, fans and heaters, electric supply to the structure, water supply to the structure, trellis equipment, shelving, and metal storage containers
- Field Crops – Installing deer fencing, a mulching system, new perennial cut flower and heirloom vegetable rows, irrigation system using rainwater collection, walk-behind seeders and weeders, and perennial starts
- Pollinator and Sensory Garden – Removal of all invasive plants, seeds, starts, plugs, and tubers to plant natives, securing a cost-share contract with the USDA for pollinator garden, and maintaining pathways through the sensory garden
- Dairy Goat Production – Installing a water source in the barn, investing in a milking machine, storage for hay and feed, separate, designated refrigeration for dairy products, containers for milk storage, cleaning station for equipment and birth kit, equipment for pasteurization, birthing kit and medical bags, cheesemaking equipment, soapmaking facility with water and stove/heat, labels and supplies for milk products
- Layer Hens – Creating a designated egg washing station, egg carton station, refrigeration exclusively for eggs, and storage area for layer feed
- Agritourism – Establishing parking, restrooms, ramps, signage, safety fencing, legal documents (including a waiver), promotional materials and tools, and an indoor shop with shelves, cash register, bags/baskets, and visitor tracking
We want to become a staple in our community, a source of year-round, healthy, farm-grown products and produce. Every purchase you make from our online farm stand helps us get one step closer to these goals! Thank you, as always, for supporting our farm. We couldn’t do it without you!