Tag Archives: grazing

A Feature in Wisconsin Farmers Union News!

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Jane holds Portia, a young Coopworth lamb (photo by Danielle Endvick)

I’m really excited and honored to have Autumn Larch Farm LLC and Three Rivers Fibershed featured in a story in Wisconsin Farmers Union News. My goals of rebuilding the health of the land I live and farm on through raising and encouraging a diversity of plants and animals and through rotational grazing, chemical free gardening, natural dyes, etc. along with raising awareness for food and fiber consumers aligns so well with the work of Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) and Three Rivers Fibershed (TRF). I’m proud to be a member of both organizations!

“Wisconsin Farmers Union, a member-driven organization, is committed to enhancing the quality of life for family farmers, rural communities, and all people through educational opportunities, cooperative endeavors, and civic engagement.”

The Three Rivers Fibershed, an affiliate branch of Fibershed, is working to develop regional fiber systems that build soil health and protect the wellbeing of our biosphere

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Bianca and Portia, the first lambs of the 2021 season (photo by Danielle Endvick)

Danielle Endvick, Communications Director at WFU and the author of this story, came out for a farm visit and interview in mid May. We had a lovely day for our conversation and she informed me that it was particularly exciting because mine was her first in-person farm interview since the beginning of the pandemic. We had a good conversation and a tour around the farm and into the studio. I was so pleased to have this opportunity to continue to bring these two wonderful groups of dedicated farmers and advocates together and to make the membership of both groups aware of one another and hopefully help to create opportunities for collaboration. A chance to talk about my passion for local fiber was such a treat!

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A sampling of the farmyarn in Jane’s studio at Autumn Larch Farm LLC (photo by Danielle Endvick)

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Fibershed, natural dyes, Policy, Sheep, Sustainability, Wool

Photos for research and record keeping

Back in 2012, I decided to take pictures once each month from 6 positions on our pasture as a record.  I was hoping to be able to document improvements in the pasture forage quality.  I think some of that is happening.  It has also been interesting to see how differently a pasture can look on the same day from one year to the next.

I have included May 1st and October 1st here, from one vantage point and through multiple years.  Both of those dates can be quite different depending on the amount of warmth, rain, snow, etc.

May 2012 illustrates the early and warm spring that we experienced that year.  May 2014 shows how long it took to recover from the ‘polar vortex’.  Rain was obviously plentiful in the early fall of 2014.

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Filed under Farm, Natural world, Research, Seasons

Meeting with my Legislator

Back in mid March, I took a day away from the farm to join Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) in Madison for their Farm & Rural Lobby Day.  It was a great experience.  I carpooled with Linda and Cathy to Stevens Point and then we vanpooled with other WFU members from the central part of the state.  WFU scheduled meetings for us with our Senators and Representatives, in our case, Janet Bewley and Beth Meyers.  Policy staff at WFU had prepared really nice documents to share at these meetings on 4 priority topics: Supporting UWEX, Nonpartisan Redistricting, Rural Broadband and a Well Dispute Settlement Program proposal.  We also had the opportunity to bring up other topics of importance to us.  For Linda, Cathy and me, supporting UWEX was especially important and we each had examples of ways in which UWEX has been extremely valuable to us over the years.

We asked that our legislators let us know when they are in Price County so we could meet with them to continue the conversations.

Not long afterwards, I got a call from Beth Meyers’ staff person asking if she could come to tour my farm and learn about agriculture in Price County.  Of course I was thrilled to host her.  The day when Beth visited here, she also toured Linda and Gerry Ceylor’s Organic Valley dairy farm and had a listening session with a group of farmers in Catawba.

Just before Beth arrived here, a Channel 12 – Rhinelander van pulled in and Ben Meyer asked if he could tag along on the tour.  Turns out this meant with video camera in tow!  Good thing I didn’t have advance warning, I would have had time to get nervous.  Here is his take on my visit with Beth Meyers:  http://www.wjfw.com/storydetails/20160422174529

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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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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Local Food, Natural world, Seasons, Sustainability

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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Hay safely under cover… What a glorious feeling!

I’m learning that making hay is very stressful. Most of the stress has to do with moisture – rain, dew, humidity.

Because of moisture, I’ve added a new word to my vocabulary:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tedder

ted·der noun \ˈte-dər\

Definition of TEDDER: one that teds; specifically : a machine for stirring and spreading hay to hasten drying and curing

First Known Use of TEDDER: 15th century

I think of it as a “fluffer” for hay.  And, I was pleased to discover that there is one available in the neighborhood to rent because we had a bumper crop of clover this year.  Another thing I learned is that clover is loaded full of moisture and takes a really long time to dry.  Our hay might have molded if we hadn’t been able to use the tedder.

Raking hay after it is "fluffed" with a tedder is a challenge.

Raking hay after it is “fluffed” with a tedder is a challenge.

Rain held off!

Rain held off!

Well cured hay smells...Delicious!

Well cured hay smells…Delicious!

A rare sight: Farmer Jane on steel

A rare sight: Farmer Jane on steel

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Summer is upon us

 

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Lambs and grass are both growing – perfect timing!  Micah had a lovely set of twin ewe lambs just a couple days after my last post.  That brings our total to 4 ram lambs and 4 ewe lambs – same as last year, though a different math to get us there.  I weighed everyone just a couple days ago and it is quite amazing how quickly the single ram lambs grow in comparison to the rest, though they are all growing quite well.

Also, all the lambs are white again this year in spite of the fact that I have a natural color ram.  I intend to study this further.  All of my ewes are identified in their registration paperwork as white with natural color heritage, except Noah who is natural color herself.  Both of the rams I have used for breeding have been natural color and yet I still get only white lambs.  I believe this is because white wool was a big priority in the early development of the Coopworth breed in New Zealand.  This probably means that white wool is a dominant trait and it will require patience and persistence to increase the number of natural color sheep in my flock.

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Lamb update

About 10 days ago Noah had twins and about 5 days ago Tirzah had twins (1 ewe, 1 ram) and Hoglah had a big single ram.  We’re currently at a total of 6.  Just waiting for Micah now.

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The new lambs spend a couple days in these field jugs to get fully acquainted with their mothers and stay out of the torrential rain, then they are out with the group and the lamb games begin.

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Tamarack time has come and gone

My farm is named for the glorious second round of color that we get each year.  The maples, aspen and birches have their blaze of color here near the end of September each year.  Things might be pretty colorless and dismal after that, but we are blessed with the golden hue that the tamaracks (larches) take on a couple weeks later.  Sunshine is rare and eagerly anticipated during this time and when it does shine the golden tamaracks are so bright they are hard to look at.  I put on my sunglasses and gaze away!Image

This photo shows the tamaracks in all their glory.  The foreground includes the sheep fellas on the farm.  The tall dark and handsome guy is Hemlock.  He arrived here from Hidden Valley Farm back in early September.  He will be meeting our ewes Hoglah, Mahlah, Noah, Micah and Tirzah in just a couple weeks.  We’re looking for May lambs so they can comfortably be born and raised on pasture.

As I write this, tonight, we’re in a deep freeze.  I think we had a high of 12 or 13 degrees Fahrenheit today.  And we have 6″ or so of snow on the ground.  Winter is definitely here in a big way.  We did get a good dose of that blessed sunshine today, though.  Lovely to look at from inside, but I did stick my nose out a few times to keep all the critters fed and watered.

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Playing in the mud

I must preface this post by saying I really have nothing to complain about, when you compare our weather situation to the devastation that has occurred in many parts of the world.  We have not suffered from wild fires, mud slides or tornadoes.

I’m still going to complain, though.  This has been a trying year.  I’ve been speculating that our new weather/climate pattern is: Frozen Tundra; Standing Water; Scorched Earth.  We’ve experienced variations on this theme for a number of years now.

We are currently in a glorious weather pattern.  Some might complain that it is too dry, but on our heavy ground, the .2″ or .3″ we have gotten here and there have been enough to keep the pastures convinced that they should grow rather than go dormant.  And, it has been enough to fill the rain barrels so I can water the hoophouse and seed beds with rain water, rather than from the well.

But, this spring was far from glorious.  We had standing water in places where I have never seen it stand before.  And, the earth was saturated so continuously by new rains, that even the garlic which was planted in my highest garden beds suffered.  I’m just beginning to harvest that now, and I’m hoping to have sufficient harvest to save for seed to plant in October.  If I have a bit extra to use and to sell, I’ll be surprised.

The “playing in the mud” refers to my many unsuccessful attempts to prepare garden beds for planting.  This year my planting window was July.  I’m very hopeful that we have a long, mild fall so that the potatoes, parsnips, carrots and beets have sufficient time to mature.

I am more grateful for my hoophouse than ever!  While it was still very wet in there in the spring, at least the new rainfalls were not landing directly on those beds and I was able to start seeds there for melons, squash, beans, onions, leeks, flowers and greens.  All of those plants did get alarmingly large before I was able to prepare the beds in the rest of the garden to receive them as transplants, but it did eventually happen with fairly decent success.

Big beans in the wrong place

Big beans in the wrong place

I looked for pictures to illustrate the wet, muddy, weedy mess my garden was this spring, but it appears I couldn’t bear to document it.

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