Tag Archives: research

Winter is certainly here!

But, it took a long time to arrive.

I timed my final harvest of carrots down to about the last possible second.

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This was the first week of December and the ground hadn’t yet frozen.  If I had gotten to this job just a day or two earlier, it would not have involved snow.

As you can see, the chickens have been moved into their winter quarters inside the garden fence where I can run an extension cord to plug their coop in for supplemental light and a heated water dish.

The garlic seed is snugly tucked into the ground and poultry net has been strung around the garlic beds in case the chickens get over exuberant.

At this point, the sheep were still getting most of their nutrition from grazing.  As you can see here, the lawn was still quite green.  Plenty of forage was available in most of the pasture.  This is really remarkable.  Often, by mid October I am feeding hay because there is no forage left, but this year it just kept right on growing until it got covered with snow in early December.

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I take pasture photos at 6 standard locations on the first of each month as a form of research and record keeping.  This was the 12/1/16 photo of Paddock 1.

Today, we are experiencing a real winter deep freeze.  The benefit of weather so cold that I’m reluctant to step outside is that I do finally get around to the paperwork and computer projects that had been languishing when I was working on outside projects.

I’m very pleased to have finally made a bunch of updates to my little online store.  Have a look: https://squareup.com/store/autumn-larch-farm-llc.  There you will find soaps, sheepskins, raw fleeces, roving, yarn and more.

If you live nearby, save the postage and contact us to set up a time to stop in and do your shopping in person.  If you live farther away, this little online store is a great option for having a look at the products available and getting them delivered right to your door via USPS.

Stay warm and enjoy the vibrant sunshine that usually comes with the bitter cold.

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, gardening, Getting Organized, Research, Seasons, Sheep

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

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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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Natural world, Seasons

An ideal day for sheep

A passel of content lambs on this cool, sunny, day

A passel of content lambs on this cool, sunny, day

Hoglah hard at work

Hoglah hard at work

IMG_8963Hoglah finally had her twins late last week.  Today is the first day I have felt like taking pictures since then.  First we had hot and muggy days where the only times the lambs frolicked was after dark.  Then we had rainy, soggy, chilly.  Who wants to look at pictures of damp, hunched back little lambs.

But today, now that is a different story.  I think this might be the sort of day a sheep would order if they could do such a thing.  It included enough wind to keep the bugs at bay, temps in the 50’s F and bright sunshine with just a few clouds.  I enjoyed it too.

The lows in the 20’s F predicted for tonight may suit the sheep better than me, though.  I’ve got the tender plants in the hoophouse covered with floating row cover, so hopefully they will survive.  I’m already sad for the tree fruit that will probably not happen this summer because of this pesky frost.

Hoglah also had a ram and a ewe lamb.  With this 3 makes a pattern on my farm where each ewe had one of each, it makes me wonder if this is always the case or just a coincidence.  I guess I could ask around, or do some research online, or just continue to make observations here on the farm.

 

 

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Filed under Farm, Natural world, Research

Research final report submitted 3/1/12

Starting in 2009, I have been working on a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) funded Farmer/Rancher research project entitled: Low input pasture renovation through multi species intensive grazing.

The premise of the project was tracking data for a pasture that was management intensively grazed by more than one species to determine if the pasture could be renovated with little input of outside materials.  I did not plow up the field and replant it nor did I add fertilizer or lime to the soil.  I did add a very limited amount of clover seed in select areas.  I kept a lot of records: dates when each of the 12 paddocks were grazed and how tall the forage was before the animals were allowed in and after they had finished grazing; weights of the ruminants when they came on the farm and when they left the farm.  Soil testing was done in the spring of 2009 and again in the spring of 2011 and forage analysis was also conducted for 2009 and 2011.  Cindy Banh conducted plant surveys for me in the spring of 2009, 2010 and 2011 and also in the fall of 2011.

Plant survey example

In 2009 I raised 18 feeder lambs, 6 young goats and 200 broiler chickens on the pasture.  In 2010 I had 34 lambs, 5 goats and 300 broiler chickens and in 2011 I had 35 lambs and 200 broiler chickens.

All of the data was compiled and analyzed to determine trends and changes within the pasture.  Three years is actually a very short time for determining changes to a pasture through grazing, but some changes could be noted.  For instance, the amount of undesirable red fescue decreased overall while the more desirable reed canary grass, Kentucky blue grass, timothy and quack grass all increased overall.

But, the pH and organic matter results from the two tests indicate that both were consistently lower in 2011 than they were in 2009 and this is puzzling.

It seems that I will need to continue to track data to monitor the changes that continued rotational grazing impact will have on my pasture.

My final report was submitted on March 1st and will soon be available at this link: http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewProj&pn=FNC08-710.  An overview of the project and annual reports are currently available there.

In 2010 I was also involved as a part of a three farm team in a project called: Alternative Broiler Breeds in Three Different pastured Poultry Systems.  The final report for this project can be viewed at: http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewRept&pn=FNC09-771&y=2010&t=1

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