Category Archives: Sustainability

Hay from Farmer Dobson

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Rex Dobson yesterday while buying hay from his farm.  The Dobson farm began when Rex’s great grandfather returned from the Civil War and received 160 acres as compensation for service.  Soon after he purchased an additional 320 acres.  Rex pointed out the house where his mother was born and where he was raised while he lifted bales off the trailer and brought them over to the truck.

On my way home, I thought, wow, hay for $2.70 a bale and great conversation with the farmer who grew it.  And now a peice of this history is on our land, where it will nourish the next generation and create a history all its own.


Hay isn’t just for horses

It’s also wonderful for composting.

I  finally reached a farmer who has some bales available,  so we’ll be picking those up tonight and finishing the next step in the beds and guilds of layering 8-12 inches of hay over the manure.

The manure is now gone from the trailer, so we’ll need another load.  I’m keeping a tally of expenditures, which I will post along with photos of this weeks accomplishments in the garden.

In wellness, Samantha


Today I called Long Lake Township to inquire about chickens and zoning for one-acre lots in our township.  The township will only allow chickens on lots larger than five acres irregardless of zoning.

I have a problem with this.  Hens (not roosters) are fairly quiet, require little and give lots to the garden.  Their fecal matter is far less noxious than any dog or cat and makes a wonderfully rich fertilizer.  Chickens also claw and till the soil while munching on bugs and weeds and leaving little presents of natural fertilizer in their wake.   In addition, hens lay eggs and eggs are a wonderful food source for humans.

We are fortunate to live in an age when people and townships are beginning to consider the benefits and necessity of sustainable farming practices.  As I mentioned to the township official, laws that prohibit practices that benefit families and dependencies on ourside sources are out of date and unwarranted.

Side note

I wanted to direct visitors to the two tabs located top right of the page. More than Cherries is the story that inspired the experiment and About Healing Tree Farm is wording that will eventually be replaced by a mission statement of sorts.

Poop factory

We picked up a trailer full of manure yesterday at T/N Farm, a horse farm on Old Mission Peninsula. I chose a farm where I know the horses are given good feed, allowed a lot of grazing time and are treated well. The pooh is good quality stuff.

[Liz called her farm a “poop factory” which is true – she really could run a good manure business with all those wonderfully healthy horses!]
While we loaded the manure, Liz picked up a stone from the pile. It was hot to the touch from all that decomposing going on all around. Decomposition generates heat. The more heat, the better for it will destroy any of the ‘weed seeds’ that may have survived digestion. We also saw several beautiful red worms glistening in the sun as we shoveled the pile even atop the trailer. Erick pointed them out and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

This weekend is a busy one for me, but tonight I will begin shoveling manure atop beds, but the real work – the layering project – will begin Monday.

For more information on composting visit:
Children-friendly website or the Adult-friendly website

Welcome to Healing Tree Farm: A Backyard Experiment

Earlier this spring, I sat with my husband on the couch in our house on our one-acre plot of earth and I voiced my concerns over modern farming practices. I shared with him my feelings of helplessness in altering the mindset of conventional farmers; myself convinced that there must be a better way.

This beautiful and intelligent man paraphrased Gandhi, “Be the change you seek.”

Healing Tree Farm will begin as a backyard experiment in permaculture and sustainability, but it is my hope it will grow more than cherries or apples.  We’re cultivating hope for our future and with hope, all things are possible.