60822 Creek Road
Niles, MI 49120


Is it Spring yet??!! This winter hasn’t been much of a winter in my corner of the mitten this year. We have had very little snow but have made up for it with rain. At least we have had the moisture needed for the crops when the farmers start planting in the spring. The temperatures have been pretty mild most of the winter so far and I really hope it stays that way until Spring gets here. Spring is around the corner just by looking at what is coming in my mailbox lately. Seed catalogs and hatchery catalogs have been coming for the last week or more! If looking at these types of catalogs do not put you in the mood for Spring I don’t know what would!

This is the perfect time to be planning your gardens for the coming growing season. You need to have time to decide what you want to plant so you can be ready when the ground is ready for preparing and planting in the early summer. You want to look at the different varieties of each vegetable you intend to plant. Of course you have to be careful that you don’t plan too much for the size plot you have for planting. All your plants need their space and overcrowding is not a good thing in a vegetable garden. Many plants can spread out of the area that you think is enough and crowd into another area which causes problems for other plants not being allowed to grow right. If you have a way to do research maybe you could look into doing some vertical gardening which will help you save on space.

Don’t forget to plan what you would like to grow for the Agriculture Department Growing contests that are new in your Program Book. Be sure to check out the Program Book for all the class details and rules. I have changed a few of the classes from last State Session. I hope we will have a good turn out as this will give everyone in the Grange a chance to show what they can do! Brother Tom Smith shared with me a page from the Indiana State Grange newsletter that listed all the winners in their Ag Department classes from this past year’s IN State Session. Keep in mind they do not have many Granges in their state but they had 54 entries just in their Ag Department. I would be happy if we have 24 entries at our state session this October. Please consider one of the classes if you have never entered in the Ag Department. Agriculture is one of the main reasons the Grange was formed.

If you are looking to do a new planting in your yard this spring, here is something to think about when deciding what to plant. This information though from 2015 is still very important as bees are being killed off too quickly which is very harmful to Agriculture as bees are needed to help pollinate our crops. This is from an article from the October 2015 Tennessee Granger which borrowed from the New Jersey State Grange CGA Director. It is entitled Honey Bees.

Bees of all kinds have been declining in numbers over the past few years. The reasons are many, but one of the most important is the lack of suitable plants from which bees can collect nectar and pollen all season long. About 1/3 of the food eaten by Americans come from crops pollinated by honey bees, including fruits, vegetables and nuts. You can help honey bees and native pollinators by planting bee-friendly plants in your garden. Here is a list of perennials to help get a bee garden started.
  • Crocus
  • White Sweet Clover
  • ​Catnip
  • ​Russian Sage
  • ​Mountain Mint Snowdrops
  • ​Thyme
  • ​Purple Cone Flower
  • ​Anise Hyssop
  • ​Goldenrod
  • ​Autumn Joy Sedum
​When a foraging bee discovers plants that are producing nectar or pollen, it returns to the hive to inform the other bees about the source. More bees then join the foraging. Bees prefer to work large patches of the same flower, so planting several of the same type of bee-friendly plants ensures a good source of forage. It is best to leave flowers on the plant until the blooms are spent, allowing the bees to make the most of each flower. Planting perennials that bloom at different times during the year insures a source of nectar throughout the foraging season. DID YOU KNOW: A honey bee visits up to 100 flowers on a single trip outside of the hive.
Well that is it for now. Good luck with your garden planning and happy growing until later!


Is it Spring, Summer, Winter?!? This spring has been very crazy for weather so far. I wonder what Summer will be like here in Michigan this year. Hoping Summer will be nice and not too hot but I don’t think people will care after the Stay Safe Stay Home Spring that we are having. As I sit here writing this article on April 9th, we are now having to stay home until April 30th. I know we need to stay safe and be cautious to keep the spread of COVID 19 at low levels but it is also hurting many individuals’ livelihood. I am still working which I am thankful for but it is very stressful on myself and my fellow co-workers. We are doing our best to keep food on the shelves for people to buy every day, but it seems like we are always busy. I guess that shows most people had been eating out all the time! I know a lot of people are buying things to plant and grow for food in their yards this spring. We are getting low on seed potatoes at Shelton’s but I got our seed potatoes purchased so we can get them planted soon.

How many of you have planted anything in your gardens yet? Things that could have been planted by know would be seed potatoes, onion sets, cold crops (cabbages, etc) and I even think carrots but not sure so please check before you plant them! When planning your garden spots, keep in mind the Ag Classes that you can enter at this year’s Annual State Grange Session. Each class is open to Junior members on up to Subordinate members. There are plenty of different classes for all ages and you do not have to live in the Country to do them. I can’t wait to see what Unique containers with plantings come to State Session. Please check the Program Booklet for more details. Be sure to check out the Family Activities section as they put in a neat class in their Department having to do with Antique Agriculture items.

We are running behind at getting things done around the little farm this spring due to the crazy things going on in our World right now. I have yet to get the chicken coop cleaned but that is because when I have the time it is either not nice weather or I am too tired and need to just rest! The pigs for my nephews and niece will be coming to the farm in a few short weeks and there is still things to prepare before they can come to the farm. My niece was over and power washed the peg pin, the fence panels, the hut and my Dad power washed all of the feeders. We have to wash away a residue of a feed additive we have used in the past that is no longer allowed to be used at most County Fairs. The stock trailer is not out of storage yet and also needs power washed. The market goats have been selected and will be arriving soon as well. In the Fall we added a “garage” cat to the farm and she came to our farm excepting kittens. She had 5 and we have 2 of them left and boy have they kept the mice and chipmunk populations to very low levels! Baby, the momma cat, gave us 6 new little kittens on April 2nd! It will be fun to see them grow up but we will have to find homes for them as we just can’t keep that any here.

Please be mindful that this is the time that the country roads and some State Highways will have slow moving farm vehicles on them. If it wasn’t for those farmers and their employees we wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to farmers’ markets or the grocery stores to get the needed foods to feed our families. Please give those big vehicles and tractors as much room as you can without causing problems for yourself or others.

With all this technology going into modern farms, the demand for skilled workers in the agriculture sector is rising. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that jobs in food and agriculture outnumber degrees granted in those fields nearly two to one. Of those job opportunities, 27 percent are in science, technology, engineering or math. Remember whenever possible please buy Local or Locally Grown / Made products! You are helping small farm families most of the time. Well that is it for now. Good luck with your garden planning and happy growing until later!