Tag Archives: CVM

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

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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Welcome Flax!

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What a cute little guy!

I decided that I have many situations where a sheep ‘buddy’ would be helpful.

First, I have so few ewes that I only need one ram.  This means that there are times during the year when the ram is by himself.

Second, I don’t breed my ewes while they are lambs.  I wait until they are yearlings.  This means they spend the first winter away from the adult ewes who are with the ram starting in December.

Having a wether is a great way to provide a buddy in each of these circumstances.  I could just select a ram from my own flock and castrate him, but a wether is an opportunity to have a different wool around to play with (since he can neither breed or be bred and therefore does not risk cross breeding in my purebred Coopworth flock).  I thought a lot about what breed I would like to branch out into.  I determined that I would like to have a CVM.  This is a rare breed and helping to maintain or increase their numbers appealed to me.  CVM is also a fine wool breed and this contrasts with the Coopworth which is a long wool breed.  Now I will have within my flock wool that is appropriate for close to my skin and wool that is long, lustrous and appropriate for outerwear, rugs, etc.  CVM stands for California Variegated Mutant which is the natural color variant of the breed Romeldale.

I located this little fella at Hillspring Eco-Farm.  He was born in late February of this year.  Linda, from Hillspring, named him Flax in line with her fabric and fiber theme for naming this year.  The photo above was taken shortly after he arrived on our farm in late May.  He spent about a week on his own and then another week on the other side of the fence from Hemlock, our ram.  They were introduced by being crowded into a pen for about 30 hours where Hemlock couldn’t do any damage as he established that he was boss.  They have since been grazing together amicably and seem to confirm that having a buddy is comforting.

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