Tag Archives: lambing

Autumn Larch Farm LLC in the news

http://www.agriview.com/news/livestock/architect-farmer-builds-local-foods-connections/article_3f86cae2-2b85-584a-af0e-2991ea846b4f.html

purses hang on fence

Photo by Jane Fyksen

November 26, 2015 1:00 am  • 

PRENTICE, Wis. – Previously a commercial architect living in downtown Chicago, Jane Hansen moved with her husband, Chris Wallner, to Price County 15 years ago — to become a farmer.

She’s still building, but now she’s building connections in the local-foods arena. Though she stepped down as coordinator of the Wisconsin Local Food Network in April, she remains active and looks forward to the 10th-annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit, to be held Jan. 14-15, 2016, at the Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan Falls. She helped plan the first nine summits.

“We are excited that Jane will be assisting us in bringing local food to our state convention in January,” said Lloyd of Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Jan. 29-31 gathering at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. “It is a priority for our members to directly support farmers and the local economy by buying local food for our meals together.”

Hansen raises sheep and poultry, and direct-markets artisan wool products and more. She named her farm Autumn Larch for swamp-loving Tamarack trees in the Larch family. The trees produce a second round of golden color in the fall after hardwoods have lost their leaves. The farm’s sheep are Coopworth, a breed from New Zealand that originated from mating Border Leicester and Romney.

“It’s a strong dual-purpose breed,” she said of high-quality wool and meat production.

The hardy breed fits her pasture-based management, which includes wintering outside with woods as windbreak. Although not certified organic, Hansen uses garlic to boost sheep immunity and stave off internal parasites. Year-round she feeds fresh-ground garlic in grain once a week, at the rate of one to two cloves per head per week. She deworms ewes by drenching with garlic juice. Each 150-pound ewe receives 5 cubic centimeters each of garlic juice and aloe juice with 20 cubic centimeters of water.

An avid learner and armchair researcher, Hansen uses an herbal “antibiotic” called artemesia annua — known as wormwood or sweet annie – to control liver fluke in her sheep.

“These are things I’m dabbling in,” she said. “It’s part of the buckshot I use to try to solve problems.”

Hansen sells lamb, tanned hides, fleeces, roving and yarn. A fiber artist herself, she knits and felts colorful wool handbags. Her ewes wear coats to protect their fleeces. The sheep sport names such as Hoglah, Tirzah and Micah.

Her laying flock of red hens supplies several customers with eggs. She also makes nine fragrances of soap and unscented “Not So Plain Jane” soap, which pokes fun at her name. Some of her herbal soap is wrapped in felted wool; no washcloth is necessary with the unique bath-and-shower product.

In addition to attending craft fairs, Hansen belongs to Countryside Artists’ Gallery in the Fred Smith house at the Wisconsin Concrete Park in Phillips. In 1948, Smith, at 62, started creating artwork that resulted in more than 230 embellished concrete figures in his yard. The concrete folk art is a tourist attraction, which is an outlet for Hansen’s products.

An avid market-vegetable grower, Hansen specializes in hardier produce such as salad greens, cabbage, onions and garlic. She extends her season with a hoop greenhouse. In October she planted about 1,700 cloves of garlic, some of which is braided. The cloves will be decorative in customers’ kitchens. Grocers also buy her garlic for resale.

One of many local-foods connections Hansen has forged is with the Phillips School District and Food Service Director Terra Gastman.

“I really enjoy working with Jane,” Gastman said of a farm-to-school partnership with Hansen. “She emails me each week and lets me know what she has available. We have made fresh squash for the kids several times this year. We have some saved to serve with our Thanksgiving lunch at school.

“The kids do notice when the produce is fresh. Fresh oven-roasted zucchini is a favorite. Jane’s fresh vegetables are a great addition to our lunch program.”

Vice-president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union’s Price and Taylor counties’ unit, Hansen is active in the farm organization’s local-foods promotions.

“Wisconsin is a leader in the country for work on developing a vibrant local and regional food system,” said Sarah Lloyd, Wisconsin Farmers Union special projects coordinator. “Jane Hansen has been an important leader in the network of farmers, organizations, agencies and consumers that are working on the issue.”

Visit AutumnLarchFarm.wordpress.com for more information on Hansen’s products. Visithttps://wilocalfood.wordpress.com/summit-2016 for more on the 2016 Local Food Summit. Visit www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com to learn about Wisconsin Farmers Union’s local-foods thrust and upcoming convention.

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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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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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Lambing season has begun

Mahlah had a big sturdy ram lamb a week ago.  The other four ewes continue to develop their lambs.  I’m so glad that they waited through the nasty weather we had this last week.  I’ve begun to think of them as The Ladies in Waiting.

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Ladies in Waiting

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1st lamb born this year – Mahlah’s ram lamb

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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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