February is Coming to a Close & a Little History

Spring is becoming more of a reality now that we are heading into March. March is often a waaaay too busy month for us, as it seems there are a thousand birthdays! It often flies by and then it’s April.

You saw how we got about 12 inches of snow throughout a period of a few days earlier in the month. Well… then, we were graced with about 3 to 4 inches of rain and the melting of the snow. It flooded. Bad. Some areas around us are still dealing with flood waters. I grew up on the Shiawassee River in a small town south of our current location, my father currently lives in my childhood home, and he showed me photos of the flood waters. Thankfully, the house is far enough away from the river, but his shed and the neighbors houses are not. My little hometown is also dealing with lots of water, a few roads were closed and an SUV was victim to the flood.

Below is a photo I took a few days ago at Shiatown Park in between Bancroft and Vernon, Michigan. It is a place I frequent during the warmer months, I love exploring and taking my daughter along with my Canon Mark II. Usually this spot is just a mere trickle, no where near the rushing waters I captured this weekend. Between the two sets of trees is a walk path where you can go right to the edge of the water coming over the dam.

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The sound that filled my ears as I stood there reassured me just how powerful mother nature is and how powerful we forget she can be.

We also dealt with flooding at our homestead, which is nothing new to us, other than it came so fast this time. The ditches along the road flowed into our property and had no where to go. The photo below is looking east. All of this water came from the ditch tubes being plugged from debris and trash (we usually take one or two days in the spring and pick up any trash on our mile stretch of road).

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The photo below depicts the south side of our hoop houses, still facing east. This water comes from our driveway, which sits lower than the road, and the road water flows down our driveway and across at this point. The tube that filled our yard is located east of the hoophouse in the photo, and if you look closely, you can see it sticking up, my husband did this to prevent any more water from flowing into our yard. That tube normally flows OUT of our yard into the ditch, but the water had such a current and force that it flowed INTO our yard.

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Thankfully, after a day, our water problems subsided…and we decided to take action, since we never got to it this fall. We purchased roughly 200 ft of 4 inch black drainage piping with small slits in it to install around the hoop houses to help direct the water to a sump crock (I forgot to get pictures of it! I apologize!)

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We made sure that there was a “fall” towards where we wanted the water to be directed to. The photo above is the west side of our hoop houses. We put the drainage tubes across the entire front of the houses.

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We then went around the north and south hoop houses and on the back sides, they come together to form a T, and are then directed into a sump crock. We installed a sump pump to pump any water out and away. We are supposed to get another rainstorm on Thursday, so we will get to test out our system and make any needed corrections. We have plans of installing drainage tubing to our market gardens, too and other spots of our yard. We have always dealt with flooding, and now I know why!

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I have the book above on loan from a local elderly lady who grew up in our little area. The book was written by Stan Perkins, a local farmer whose family helped shape this community into what it is today. The town Duffield is no longer considered a “town” or village…in fact, there isn’t really even a sign welcoming you to Duffield. The town was merely a quarter mile stretch of businesses and a depot, a mill, a general store, a post office, and a blacksmith.

Duffield was named after Dr. Samuel Pearce Duffield who claimed his M.D. from Detroit College of Medicine. He had a theory on toxicology and it was reinforced when he traveled to Dorpat, Russia: “That the assimilation of minute proportions of recognized poisons could be used as medicine”. Much to my surprise, he believed in homeopathic medicine, much as I do today. In the early 1870’s, he traveled alongside the Shiawassee River watershed and “In particular the ridges that provided the headwater areas that separated one watershed from another.” As it turns out, Dr. Duffield was in search of mineral springs. He traveled the route of the railroad parties (the same rail road that runs at the north of our property). “One such survey was made by a stock company called the Flint and Lansing Railroad Company,” says the author. This projected railway was to cross Gaines Township on a northeastern diagonal, through acreage owned by George Carrier (who originally owned our property) and other farmers. Dr. Duffield was on the search for any raw materials he could use to produce medicines.

Doctor Duffield found several mineral springs, as depicted on the 1873 Platte Map in the book. Stan Perkins also confirms in his book what we always thought about our area…. that it was once a swamp. Which explains its professional ability to hold water. We also don’t have to dig very far into the soil to find moisture, nor does it take long for any deep hole to fill with water.

“We Are From Duffield” sheds a ton of light on our little community…why it is the way it is, and why the soil is so black. Muskrat Swamp, as it was called back in the day, is less than a half of a mile north of us. The author of the book talks about the farmer, George Carrier (who was a Civil War Veteran) growing onions in the rich black soil. Sadly, that field has now been grown over by trees. However, our neighbors still farm most of Georges Land, today. George died in 1879 from wounds and disabilities sustained in the war. His wife, Mariah (sometimes she is found as Maria) was left to take care of 5 children. They raised sheep, had 2 milk cows, 2 bulls for meat, Indian Corn, wheat, rye, and barley. When the railroad went through, she sold them property for a small Depot, and because the tracks went through the south east quadrant of her property, she sold off 2 and 3 acre parcels that butted up to the road we live on…and that 3 acre parcel is ours. Our house has tons of history, being built sometime around 1899 or 1900, but that is a different blog post for a different day!

 

Credit: Stan Perkins, “We are from Duffield” copyright, 1982, Broadblade Press.

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