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In the New Year

Another year, another opportunity.

2019 represented a turning point for our farm. With our yarn sales, we’ve reached a point of some sustainability. We are really grateful for everyone who has supported us in this by buying yarn, sharing a post or just by offering encouragement. If we are going to turn the climate crisis around, we need people like you who value local, sustainable and biodegradable clothing. On the meat side, progress hasn’t been quite as dramatic, though we’ve made some breakthrough connections that we hope to continue. We are focusing on lamb box delivery while we are also moving a lot of lamb through our partners at Pete’s Greens, City Market and the Craftsbury General Store.

So what will 2020 bring?

We are cautiously optimistic that we will have more of both our Derby Line Border Leicester Yarn and our Greensboro Bend BFL available in 2020. Avid readers of this blog will know that Bobolink Yarns launches in February. We are expecting our first Bobolink Yarns product back from the mill then. I have not let readers know that 300 additional pounds of wool went to the mill in December. We are partnering with Sheep to Shawl to offer our unique yarns in their 2020 yarn club. Donna tells me that her yarn fans love unique wools with stories to tell.

On the sheep side, we are keeping our flock size similar to this year. We’ve concluded that until the land fertility begins to improve significantly, we can’t really add much to the number of ewes we manage. We will keep 8 or so ewe lambs from this coming crop and we may have yearling ewes to sell to buyers. If you are looking for breedstock, this is a great year to look at our Border Leicesters in particular. I have two fantastic unrelated rams. Buyers could buy compatible ewes and rams from us. Get in touch if you are thinking about getting sheep in 2020.

Border Leicester and Bluefaced Leicester ewes in the barnyard
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Logging On

Today, the loggers came to harvest some cedar, spruce, pine and poplar from our woods.

We went down the hill with our forester to see the loggers working on our land today. Our property finally froze-in, despite being rather wet, so they were able to get started yesterday. We watched the feller-buncher for a little while. Imagine a machine that neatly “picks” trees, leaving neighboring trees untouched. Turns out that chains for your skidder cost $3k per wheel, and a feller-buncher weighs 20 TONS, a weight necessary to prevent it from just overturning as it snips some trees and moves them to another area

Our land is fairly complicated to work on, since we have lots of streams and seeps moving into a plain ol’ swamp at the very bottom. We want to log the trees we can reach without leaving giant holes and ruts, without damaging root systems, and while leaving some of the best trees to reseed the property as well as some of the gnarliest to nurse those seedlings and to provide habitat (stick-straight regular trees with no holes and no seeds aren’t actually great habitat).

I also find it interesting to look into a world I don’t know well. When a tree is cut down, the best of it is used for high-grade timber. What is unusable for timber might become a fence post, and what can’t be a fence post is pulp, and what can’t be pulp is slash, which will help the ground recover. If a hurricane came through and the forest fell down of its own accord, the slash would shelter the seedlings replacing the lost trees, so leaving the slash makes the open area replenish more naturally, while providing habitat for animals who seek forest transition areas.

Much of the land will regrow into woods, feeding deer and other animals for years to come. Some we will move into pasture, stumping out a few areas. The key is to not bite off more than we can chew, pasture-wise. We need to be able to keep the brush down while the grass begins to grow. As soon as the brush is too thick to be mowed, we’ve lost and it will grow into poor habitat with low-value, low-quality woods.

To see the feller-buncher in action, check out our Instagram page!

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Some Lamb Pictures

We now have 16 lambs born, out of 9 mothers.   Here are some pictures!

We love the pattern on this sweet girl.  She is a purebred BFL who will be registered.

Another view of the ewe with the “Fancy Face”, as Matt termed it.

Just before these three sillies started bouncing.  This is Steven, with his friends, Ohio-65’s ewe and ram.

Nibble, nibble

This picture gives just a hint of the size differential between the one and two month old lambs and the new ones.  It it is striking in person.

Everyone likes a touch of sunshine.