Tag Archives: breeding stock

Names for the new girls

I don’t name all of my sheep… only the ones who will stay with us long term and I make this decision through observation and record keeping.  Criteria involved include health, wool quality and the criteria required to meet the requirements for the American Coopworth Registry’s Performance Designation.

From the Spring 2017 lamb crop, 3 ewes joined the breeding flock and have received a name.  Each year, I come up with a theme to select the names.  I had tree names  one year (Hemlock, Tamarack, Balsam) and hot beverage names another (Mocha, Cocoa, Java, Cappuccino), for example.

This year, to commemorate the unprecedented number of women who have stepped up to run for public office, I decided to name these 3 yearlings after famous female leaders from history.

Introducing:

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‘Empress’ Zoe, Cleopatra and ‘Queen’ Victoria

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Zoe

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Cleopatra

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Victoria

 

Here’s some info about the trend in women running for office at greater numbers: http://time.com/5107499/record-number-of-women-are-running-for-office/ and https://www.npr.org/2018/02/20/585542531/more-than-twice-as-many-women-are-running-for-congress-in-2018-compared-to-2016

If you are interested in running for office yourself (at any level), here are a couple of great resources: https://www.wfan.org/our-programs/plate-to-politicssm/ and https://voterunlead.org/

 

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Policy, Sheep

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…Repurpose

And, note to self, refrain from breaking in the first place!

I used to have a lovely blue farmers market canopy with an aluminum structure that folded up compactly and was light and easy to set up.  It was great for shade, and did work in a light rain, but wasn’t water proof and tended to weep as it got wetter.

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Phillips Farmers Market, July 2007

Some of you may recognize the young entrepreneur set up next to me.  My young friend Travis looks much more grown up these days.

One day, I set up at Knox Creek Heritage Center for an event and a number of friends joined me in the shelter of this canopy.  We were demonstrating spinning and quilting, etc. and enjoying a good visit.  It began to rain, then a wind got started.  I added a tarp on the windy side and we shuffled into a smaller circle under the canopy.  Then the wind really got going with the tarp acting as a sail and I secured it to the back of the truck.

We were prepared to wait out the weather, but then the gale really got going and attendees began to scatter.  One of the event organizers came running to me, out of breath, and asked me to move the truck to clear an access path for other vehicles.  I jumped up, started the truck and peered every which way, fearful that I would hit someone and deafened by the torrential rain.

My friends sheltering inside the canopy were shouting and screaming for me to stop, but I couldn’t hear them.  In my haste to help clear the way, I had completely forgotten about the tethers to the truck.  The aluminum supports were bent beyond repair.

I do hate to toss out anything that has any useful life left in it.  And so, I have held onto that fabric and the aluminum structure.  In 2011, our wonderful farm intern, Martha, cut several squares from the blue fabric to fashion curtains for nest boxes for our hens.

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Scout and Sophie taking a break

Last year, I used a chunk of that blue fabric to recover Scout’s winter coat, which had gotten shabby.

And just this fall, I gave up struggling with the one size too large sheep coats I had put on my 3 lambs who will be joining the breeding flock.  I sewed new smaller ones for them from some more of that blue fabric.

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A Coopworth ewe lamb modeling her well fitting coat

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Flax the CVM wether was between sizes in my coat inventory as well

In the meantime, my husband Chris kept looking at that aluminum structure and thinking there must be a better use for it than cashing it in for scrap.  Last year he made himself a boot shelf in his coat closet using some of the aluminum sections as a rack and just this week I have one in mine!

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My closet – all dolled up for picture day

This addition was a good excuse to give the closet a good wipe down and evaluate which items should be moved on to new owners due to disuse and which were beyond using any longer.

BTW: Coats for sheep are intended to keep their wool clean, rather than to keep them warm – the wool does that.  For those not finding themselves with an old canopy to cut up, or less motivated to sew, I highly recommend Rocky Sheep Company as a friendly source for extremely durable, well designed sheep covers.

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Reduce, reuse, recycle, Sustainability

Lamb update

We’re nothing if not consistent!?  Every year, we breed our ewes to a natural color (non-white) ram.  First two years, every lamb was white, even for our natural colored ewe.  This year, we have 7 lambs so far and they are all dark colored.  I think some are brown and some are black, but I will just have to observe and learn.  This winter when things are quieter, I will have to put some more study into color genetics to understand what is dominant, etc.

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Scout’s new best friend Chaplin

We’re so consistent here that even the cat who happened through and adopted us nearly two weeks ago is also black?!  He is fitting right in.  He is fast friends with the dogs and comfortable with the chickens and the sheep.

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Spring means lambing season

Our first lamb of 2015 was born 2 days ago.  And she is the first natural color lamb born on this farm!  And, she looks just like her papa.

Hoglah is such an attentive mother that she makes it hard to get any pictures.  Here is one taken inside of the pasture jug.

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Most of my attempts today resulted in this:

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Hoglah very deliberately placed herself between me and her little one.

But I did manage to catch a glimpse of the two together.  Mama enjoying the fresh green grass and some dandelion blossoms and her ewe lamb testing out her legs.

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New growth is popping out everywhere as seen here:

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American Plum (Prunus americana) Blossoms

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Tamarack (Larix laricina)

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Introducing Carver

Noah, Micah, Hoglah and Carver

Noah, Micah, Hoglah and Carver on a mild winter day

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Carver, registered Coopworth ram

Our new registered Coopworth Ram joined the flock back in December, but I’m just now getting around to formally introducing him.  He is named in honor of George Washington Carver, a wise and remarkable man who was a botanist and inventor in the early 20th century.

George Washington Carver was concerned about the way in which the mono-culture cropping of cotton was depleting the soil in the south and he worked hard to develop, research and promote alternative crops that could be grown by poor farm families to meet their own nutritional needs, replenish depleted soils and provide income as well.  These crops included peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans and when used in a rotation with cotton helped to restore nitrogen to the soil.

George Washington Carver was born in the 1860’s and died in 1943.  He was one of the first black students to attend Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames, IA and obtained his Masters degree there.  He was a researcher and teacher at the Tuskegee Institute for most of his adult life.  The George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, MO was the first national monument dedicated to an African American.  On his grave was written, He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.

Good words to live by!  What an inspirational man!

Sources: http://www.blackiowa.org/exhibits/past-exhibits/george-washington-carver/ (a temporary exhibit at the African American Museum of Iowa designed by curator Susan Kuecker – my friend Sharon’s sister!) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Carver

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Autumn Larch Farm in the news!

http://www.thecountrytoday.com/farm/article_e48e8378-9ffb-11e4-95f0-1b864b8c63f9.html

Shear delight: Autumn Larch Farm produces wool, meat, garlic for growing markets

Posted: Monday, January 19, 2015 10:54 am

PRENTICE — At Autumn Larch Farm, keeping customers happy is a top priority. Owner Jane Hansen prefers working face-to-face with the people who buy the farm’s products, whether it is wool, meat or garden produce.

“Having that feedback is very important to me,” she said. “It makes it more fulfilling.”

Though she moves around her farm with the confidence usually formed from decades of experience, Hansen wasn’t always a farmer. She grew up in the suburbs of southeastern Wisconsin and practiced as an architect, designing commercial buildings from schools to shopping centers.

In 1999, she and her husband, Chris, decided they were ready for a change and bought a house with a barn near Prentice in southern Price County.

“We didn’t know we would be farmers,” Hansen said.

Hansen planted a garden and its success led to selling at farmers’ markets.

Although not organic, Hansen uses non-chemical means to control weeds and pests, and uses antibiotics and wormers when necessary for animal health. She added laying hens to the farm for eggs, then began raising meat chickens.

In 2009, she began buying feeder lambs to raise grassfed meat on the farm’s six acres of pasture. In 2012, she expanded her flock to include breeding stock.

Hansen learned to knit as a child and rediscovered the art while living with a Norwegian roommate in college.

“It’s a big deal in Norway,” Hansen said. “She turned me into a fiber snob.”

Autumn Larch is home to a small flock of Coopworth sheep. Developed by a team of scientists in New Zealand from Romney and Border Leicester sheep, the Coopworth is a medium-sized, dual-purpose breed used for both meat and wool. Coopworth wool is in the coarser range, making it suitable for outerwear. The breed can be white or natural colored. Most of Hansen’s ewes are white, but her current ram is natural colored.

“I’m hoping to breed more colored sheep but they keep coming out white,” she said.

Last year, Hansen added a California Variegated Mutant wether to her flock. CVMs produce a fine wool that is easy to spin, durable and with a beautiful luster.

In addition to providing another type of wool, the wether will keep Hansen’s ram and ewe lambs company when they are separated from the rest of the mature ewes.

Once the sheep are sheared, the raw wool goes to Blue Hills Fiber Mill in Bruce for processing into spun yarn or roving. Roving is wool that is carded and drawn into long, narrow bundles. It is used by spinners and other fiber artists.

Wool from lambs is combined, but wool from individual ewes and rams is kept separate. Hansen labels each skein and attaches a photo of the sheep it came from, allowing artists to request wool from a specific sheep.

In addition to her own knitting projects, Hansen combines her handmade soaps she also sells with wool to make felted soap.

“It’s like having a washcloth built right in,” she said.

Lambs not kept for breeding are sold for meat. Hansen said she’s discovered there is a demand for grassfed lamb in the younger generations.

She believes mutton, consumed in the mid-century when better meat was shipped to feed soldiers, gave lamb a bad reputation among that generation, but people are rediscovering lamb. Hansen said she and her husband enjoy leg of lamb, which Chris prepares with slow, indirect heat and smoke.

“It’s delicious,” she said. “There are never any leftovers.”

Autumn Larch Farm also markets sheep skins. The skins are tanned in Milwaukee to preserve them and used in motorcycle seat covers, neonatal units and people who are bedridden and suffering from skin problems.

Along with its wool and lamb, Autumn Larch Farm is a producer of garlic for the wholesale market. Hansen plants about 1,500 cloves of garlic in the fall. Two are a hardneck variety, German Red and Russian Red, and a third is a softneck type, Inchelium Red.

Softneck garlic is milder and the kind you’ll find in most grocery stores. Hardneck garlic has more complex flavors and is closer to wild garlic, but may not store as well.

Hansen said her personal favorite is the German Red.

“It’s fabulous,” she said. “It grows really, really well in this cold, wet climate.”

The sheep enjoy the garlic as well. Hansen mixes it in with their feed to boost their immunity and as a natural pest control.

Garlic emerges about the same time as crocus in the spring, which Hansen says lets her know spring is finally here.

Garlic can be susceptible to poor weather. Two years ago, the cold wet spring caused much of her garlic cloves to rot in the ground before they sprouted.

Marketing products from her farm, especially in an area as lightly populated as north central Wisconsin, has been a challenge. She often drives great distances to reach her customers at farmers markets and craft shows.

“It is a struggle to build a farmers’ market and a customer base,” she said.

Hansen said with her wool, she has worked to connect with fiber artists who are looking for quality, Wisconsin-produced wool. She attends craft shows and the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival to meet spinners and knitters.

She also plans to promote fiber arts this month by teaching a sock knitting class at the Yarn Barn in Phillips.

Hansen became involved in Price Direct, an effort to build markets for local foods in Price County in 2005. That led to her involvement in statewide efforts, including Buy Local Buy Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Local Food Network. She serves as the coordinator for the Wisconsin Local Food Summit, now in its ninth year. This year’s summit is Jan. 30-31 in Wisconsin Rapids.

Hansen said building a diverse farm has been rewarding.

Though in an area of Wisconsin with fewer farms, Hansen uses management-intensive grazing to make the most from the farm’s six acres of pasture. The majority of the farm’s acres are wet and wooded, not suitable for farming.

“I like making use of our land,” she said.

Hansen is also making use of her experience as an architect. Along with designing an addition to her home and building a chicken coop, Hansen said she uses her problem-solving skills every day.

“There’s always a project on a farm,” she said.

A diversified operation

A diversified operation

Jane Hansen of Price County has built Autumn Larch Farm into a very diversified operation. Along with wool and lamb meat, Hansen grows vegetables and garlic, makes soap, and has raised chickens for eggs and meat.

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Registered Coopworth Ram Sold

This 2 year old (born April, 2012), natural color, proven Coopworth ram is no longer available.

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Hemlock spent 2 weeks inside at shearing time, but otherwise is pastured and outwintered.  His April 2014 shearing: 7.26# grease weight, Staple Length 140mm, Crimp 3.5 per inch, 39 micron

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Contact / Inquiries

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