5 sites · Lodging40 acres · Shelby, Oceana
Before our forest was "owned," it belonged to the Odawa people. Once white settlers arrived and governments were established, land deeds were written. We traced those deeds back through the Oceana County Register of Deeds and found that larger tracts of land were owned by people from Chicago and California, which were later divided into smaller parcels.
Interestingly, one owner lost the property after failing to pay back taxes of $3.50, shortly after World War II. It is likely that he never returned.
In the mid-1900s, Ed Dewey was the owner. Today, we have a cabin on the east side of the 40 acres that was built by Ed, entirely constructed with oak. He had three sawmills there, each powered by the engines of old Studebakers. He cut and milled enormous oak trees, using the wood to construct crates for transporting cherries. Today, you can still see old oak crates on various farms, but they are slowly being replaced by plastic.
Ed never finished the little cabin, and the story goes that he died there.
The next owners were a couple from Inkster, near Detroit. Despite Ed leaving an acre of "yard art" all over, the place was used as a vacation home after a 50-foot long mobile home was placed near the cabin. As they aged, they sold off their property to us. First, we acquired the 20 acres where the Cozy Camper Cabin resides, then the 7 acres near Weaver Road and 44th, and finally, the remaining 13 acres with the cabin. We began purchasing the property in parcels in 1992 for $500 an acre and owned it all by 1998.
From 1998 to 2008, we removed the mobile home, cleaned up all the yard art, refurbished the cabin, added a garage, and built a new shed nearby. The Hipcamp shed was originally built in 1999 and has been used for storage until it was converted into a unique little place in the woods in 2021.
Over the years, our Forester has carefully managed the property. We have logged three times. The first round was to remove 75 huge oak trees. The second round involved culling mature poplar trees. The last time, we took out 276 mature oaks and beeches. A Woodsman spent a year cutting down the tops of the trees. Clearing these old growth trees revitalized the forest, as planned.
Today, there are over two miles of trails running throughout the property. Some were logging roads, while others were carved out over time. The land is flat to the north but hilly to the south, as these are forested sand dunes. There are approximately a million trees on the property, densely forested with many large "mother trees" such as oaks, beeches, maples, and pines. The poplar trees are growing rapidly, as they do. Wild cherry, sassafras, beeches, oaks, and maples are also growing quickly and thickly.
To the south, there are fenced-in asparagus fields and cherry orchards. To the north, on the other side of Weaver Road, is the privately owned Silver Lake Airport, which remains quiet most of the time. On the east side of our 40 acres, you'll find our cabin and buildings, and we kindly ask you to avoid wandering onto that side of the property. Signs will alert you when you get close.
To the west, there is a 20-acre section occasionally occupied by some "Dunners." The area is famous for Silver Lake State Park and the sand dunes, located about 2.5 miles northwest of us. Our neighbors in that area have dune buggies, and they sometimes drive around their property, creating more noise than we prefer. It's possible that you may encounter this during your visit, so please be aware.
Deer are abundant in the area, and in 2021, we spotted a porcupine for the first time, although we have occasionally seen evidence of their presence through bark-stripped maples. Raccoons come and go, while turkeys are frequent visitors at times. You can hear coyotes yipping away at night, and depending on the time of year and migratory season, you'll see lots and lots of birds.
We're pleased to report that there is no poison ivy on the property!
It is a beautiful place in the woods, not far from many entertaining activities suitable for both the young and old. Come and visit, but please be respectful of the land and our privacy while enjoying yours.
Love Mother Earth while you are here and nourish your soul.