Tag Archives: ruminants

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

Sheep Handling Facility

Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?  I’m so excited!  I mentioned in an earlier post that this was in the works and I finally got it completed and ran the sheep through it yesterday.

Here are some pictures and then I will describe what it is and how it works:

My sheep are not so tame that I can simply walk up to them and work with them.  I have to contain them in some way in order to give vaccinations, dose with wormers, weight them, check their body condition score, etc.

In the past, I hauled hog panels out to the pasture and created an enclosure where I worked with them.  This was time consuming, tough on my back and not very efficient.  As I mentioned in a blog post this March (Getting Organized…Hopefully…Yes!), I had the brainstorm to carve a small sheep handling area out of a corner of the barn.  I included some pictures of the construction in a May blog post (Update on Organizing).

I may someday invest in gates and chutes made specifically for the purpose, but for now, I’m happy to try out this low cost option and see how it works, tweak it if necessary and save a lot of time over my old method while also keeping my sheep much more comfortable and reducing their stress.

I used hog panels and lumber already on hand.  I did all of the construction myself, but also need to give my husband Chris a big thank-you for the custom channels he fabricated for me on the table saw and planer.  I cut hog panels to 24″ width and they lift and lower beautifully (guillotine like) in these channels to allow one sheep at a time to move forward toward the enclosure with the scale.

During the test run yesterday, I weighed each sheep, wormed her with garlic juice, checked her body condition (all except the yearlings are a little on the pudgy side) and checked her eyelids using the Famacha method to get a sense of parasite load.

The facility worked great!  It seemed to be intuitive for them.  They moved through with ease.  In the past, I have had trouble getting each sheep to step up onto the scale because the surface is different and they are concerned about their footing.  But, in this arrangement, they see that by moving forward, they are moving closer to exiting the chute and so they stepped up for their turn without any trepidation.

The chute is a bit wide.  18″ is recommended, but my scale is 20″ and the hog panels have verticals on 8″ centers, so I had to go with a 24″ wide gate.  Because the chute is a little too wide, the sheep were able to turn around and squeeze past one another.  But, I was able to easily advance one sheep at a time with the guillotine lift gates.  And, with repeated runs through the chute each time we “practice” with subsequent uses of the chute for shearing, vaccinating, etc. my flock will become more accustomed to it.

What a wonderful thing to have checked off my ‘get organized’ to do list!

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Filed under Farm, Getting Organized, Livestock Handling, Reduce, reuse, recycle, Sheep

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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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Local Food, Research, Sustainability

Winter too soon

Fortunately this young fella is well equipped for the winter that started here with a vengeance on Nov. 10th.  We all know wool keeps you warm even when it is wet.  With the snow, then rain, then snow again that occurred during that first winter storm, our sheep had snowballs frozen to their backs that rattled when they moved.  With shelter from the wind and plenty of feed, they are faring well.  The current predictions of a warm up with a little sunshine are welcomed by all of us.ram lamb 11_11_14

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Filed under Farm, Fiber Arts, Natural world, Seasons

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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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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Lambing update

We’re still waiting on Hoglah.  Micah had her twins Friday evening – a ewe and a ram lamb.  I’m happy to report that all the lambs are thriving.  The older ones have started to form gangs and go romping about after their naps.

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Tirzah with her twins

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Foreground – little lambs at play, background – Micah with her twins in the field pen

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More babies

We had a busy morning here.  Now, I have to acknowledge that this is relative.  Larger sheep farms that have 100’s of lambs born in a few weeks would chuckle that the arrive of 3 lambs could be considered a busy morning.

Tirzah had twins during the wee hours – first a ewe and then a ram lamb.  Then after the sun was up, Mahlah had a ram lamb.  All are settled into field pens and are very content.

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Mahlah with her single in front and Tirzah with her twins behind

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Noah’s little ewe is becoming more active

All white lambs so far.  The ewe lamb born this morning has a small black spot on her shoulder, but that is it, still hoping for some color sheep from the remaining two ewes.

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Our first lamb

Noah was the first of our Coopworth ewes to lamb.  She had this little white ewe lamb at just before midnight last night.  Yes, if she was going to have a sleepless night, I ought to lose some sleep as well, I guess.  Noah was smaller than the other ewes, so I wasn’t surprised that she had a single.

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She is a 2 year old ewe and this is her first lamb.  She is being a very attentive mother.  At first, she was reluctant to let the lamb nurse, so I confined them inside a field pen so the lamb wouldn’t wander.  Our melt off from the recent snow has the pastures quite soggy and I didn’t want that little lamb to find a puddle to lay in.

I’m interested in having a multi-color flock and I find it ironic that our charcoal ewe and our silver ram produced this pure white ewe.

We have four more ewes who will be lambing very soon.  I’ll add more pictures as the little ones arrive.

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Shearing Day

Here’s the flock – Before…and…After.  Rain was threatened, so I created a makeshift stall for them in the garage.  It got quite windy, so it was nice to keep the wool from blowing around.  This kept our neighbor Rick, the shearer, happy as well.

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I’m beginning to learn how to skirt fleeces.  I created another makeshift item – a skirting table – to help with the process.  My intention is to build an official skirting table at the right height and large enough to accommodate fleeces as large as our ram’s before the next go round.  The one I’m using now isn’t quite large enough and is tough on my back.

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The flock takes up a lot less space now.  They are taking a bit of time to get accustomed to their new look.  They don’t seem to recognize themselves or each other, so far.

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