Blog

It’s October – Let’s Cast-Off Chemo!

All year round our Pink Project helps raise funds for cancer research through the S.D. Ireland Cancer Research Fund.  Now that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to say a big THANK YOU to the many knitters and crocheters who have purchased Pink Project sets and accessories.  Together, since 2006, we have sent over $246,000 to the S. D. Ireland Cancer Research Lab at the University of Vermont, getting closer every day to replacing chemotherapy with highly targeted, gentle, and effective immunotherapy. 
Visit the Pink Project Collection for needles, hooks, and accessories that contribute, and check out the S.D. Ireland Cancer Research Fund website for more information on the groundbreaking research that your purchase will help fund. 

Denise2Go for Knitting, Sharp Short Tip Complete sets in Mirth and Fans include ten sizes of Sharp Short Tip needles, US 5/3.75mm-15/10mm.  Each purchase sends a $5 donation to the research lab.

Mirth
Fans

Our original Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needle Sets in Pink are now available in three colorways: Pastel, Gray, and Bright.  Sets include ten needle sizes, US 5/3.75mm-15/10mm.  Each purchase sends a $5 donation to the research lab.

Bright
Gray
Pastel

The original Denise2Go Knit for a Cure, Bright Pink set includes the same contents as their hard-shelled counterparts above, but in a brilliant and compact cotton case.  Each purchase sends a $5 donation to the research lab.

Denise2Go for Crochet, Bright Pink sets include six hook sizes, US H8/5mm-M13/9mm.  This is a great set for travel!  Each purchase sends a $2 donation to the research lab.
If you’re new to Tunisian crochet or want to add an extra size or two to a collection, our Pink Tunisian Crochet Sets are a perfect option.  Each set includes one hook, two cords (5″ and 12″), two end buttons, and one extender.  Each purchase sends a $1 donation to the research lab.
Don’t forget the accessories!  Pink long cords are available in 24″, 30″, 40″, and 52″ lengths, with each purchase sending $1 to the lab.  Pink Companion Sets (1 each 9″, 12″, 14″, 16″, and 19″ cords plus 4 end buttons and 2 extenders) each send a $2 donation.  
Between the Stitches is a delightful CD of original solo piano music by Peter Krag, composed especially for relaxing stitching, with all proceeds going to breast cancer research.  Listen to some excerpts here.
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Great Resource for Shepherd and Goatherders!

From Melinda Ellison

Hi all, I’m the Extension Sheep Specialist with the University of Idaho. Myself and a team of sheep and goat specialists from Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah have teamed up to host a monthly sheep and goat webinar series, where we invite other experts to present on time-relevant topics. I’d like to invite you all to join us for our next one on Wednesday, February 9, 2022. Register here: [https://uidaho.zoom.us/…/regi…/WN_fWiLWKvuS2-dx3AJnWotNw](https://uidaho.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_fWiLWKvuS2-dx3AJnWotNw?fbclid=IwAR0fRlu_IZA_V6JJhuFQ6TfafhIW43ivpOzl9MAOoZTVqY9ZrhMfvXJLROk)

We have also posted all of our past webinars to our YouTube channel, so please check us out! [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGrmjYNXPVwf-V-VeZYfFnQ](https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGrmjYNXPVwf-V-VeZYfFnQ?fbclid=IwAR3hnaZXicMGWtvGO5t01xOKMUzvh96Gk30UF5WPj1VrlLik-REdARNgGGw)

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Denise2Go for Knitting & Crochet, “MOSAIC”

Denise2Go for Knitting & Crochet, “Mosaic” is ideal for the Fiber Artist who uses both needles and hooks in their yarn-crafting.  Whether you both knit and do Tunisian crochet, use a hook to execute complex stitches in your knitting, or knit in the Portuguese style (hook in the stitch-making hand, needle in the other), this set is for you! 

Available in
bright, pastel, or gray versions – or as an empty case to fill with your own needles and hooks!

Bright Mosaic

Each set includes:

  • 10 needle pairs, US 5/3.75mm-15/10mm
  • 10 hooks, US F5/3.75mm-N15/10mm
  • 7 cords (3″, 9″, 12″, 14″, 16″, 19″, and 24″)

4 end buttons

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Summer Mornings on Solace Farm

Just thought I would share my morning …

…I am sitting in the warmth of the morning sun on my porch swing watching the dew drops glisten like stars on the vibrant green grass. A gentle breeze causes the verdant stalks to tremble every now and then as though shimmering in the ecstasy of birdsong that fills the air. It is these quiet moments that make the days glide by in spite of the hours of weeding and haying.

Life is good.

Small Garden
Small Gardens Produce Big Results
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SUMMER SALE BEGINS

I need to make room for the new fleeces and yarns soooooooooo

lopi Bl
Hand painted Lopi BL Yarn

All Yarns are 1/2 off through

July 10,2022

Use coupon code YARN50 at check out.

NW Forest
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Integrated Parasite Management Strategies for Sheep Producers

Webinar to Address Parasite Management   is the topic for the next American Sheep Industry Association-sponsored webinar. Dr. Andrew Weaver of North Carolina State University will lead the webinar on Tuesday at 8 p.m. eastern time.    “Parasites continue to be a significant challenge for sheep production across the country. The failure of dewormers to adequately treat parasite infections has resulted in the need for alternative parasite management strategies. Unfortunately, there is no single cure. Rather, an integrated approach is needed where multiple strategies are implemented for effective parasite control,” reads the webinar description.   “These strategies can include environment-based approaches as well as animal-based approaches. In this webinar, parasite biology and host-parasite interactions will be highlighted to provide context for parasite management. Discussion will follow on various parasite management strategies available and how they can be implemented in a sheep production system. A multifaceted approach to parasite management will be most successful in mitigating infection levels and improving sheep performance and well-being.”
Register for the Webinar
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FLEX Double Point Needles are here!

FLEX Double Pointed Needles make small projects knitted in the round just that much easier.  

New!  FLEX Double Pointed Needles replace traditional double points with a more flexible approach to knitting small projects in the round.  Interchangeable with all Denise products, this set of 3 flexible double pointed needles functions in the same way as the standard 4 or 5 rigid double pointed needles but without the frequent needle changes.  Divide stitches evenly on two needles, then knit with the third.  

Set includes 3 FLEX Double Pointed Needles (DPNs), composed of Denise Sharp Short Tips and 3 inch (8 cm) cords.  FLEX Double Pointed Needles are 8.5 inches (22 cm) long for US 5/3.75mm-10/6mm and 9.5 inches (24 cm) long for US 10.5/6.5mm-15/10mm.  

For an even shorter DPN, add a set of Two-inch (5 cm) cords.  For a longer DPN, add a set of Five-inch (13 cm) cords!



FLEX Double Pointed Needles

 Get the full range of sizes in our Denise2Go FLEX Double Pointed Needles, US 5/3.75mm-15/10mm set!  Each set includes:

  • Ten sizes of FLEX Double Pointed Needles (DPNs), composed of Denise Sharp Short Tips and 3 inch (8 cm) cords:  US 5/3.75mm, 6/4mm, 7/4.5mm, 8/5mm, 9/5.5mm, 10/6mm, 10.5/6.5mm, 11/8mm, 13/9mm, and 15/10mm.
  • 3 two-inch (5 cm) cords to make an even shorter DPN set (7.5 inches, 19 cm)
  • 3 five-inch (13 cm) cords to make longer DPNs (10.5 inches, 27 cm)
  • 4 end buttons to make a stitch holder on any of the cords
Denise2Go set

We have gotten so many positive emails about using them and would love to hear your feedback if you have already tried them out! 

Thank you, N.C., for leaving this review:
“These Flex DPNs are the best I have ever had. Tried metal dpns and bamboo dpns. I am so in love with my Flex dpns, I would never go back to [the others] since I started using them. Plus they are light and easy to maneuver. My most favorite DPN ever!!”

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Sheep & Goat Handling System

So after wrangling sheep for nearly 30 years with the skill of a good Border Collie and the muscle of my sons, I decided to invest in a Sheep handling system to make the process a little less labor intensive. 

I did lots of research and talked to many shepherds and finally picked the system for me.  I am so excited to have my new Lakeland SG100 arriving next week!!!  This system includes:

Qty 1 –  (Working Chute and Crowding Tub w/ anti back-up gate and guillotine gate)

Qty 1 –  (Deluxe Spin Trim Chute w/ tires and hitch)

Stay tuned to see how we set it up and use it here on Solace Farm.  My Pa always said to work smarter not harder.

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Integrated Parasite Management Strategies for Sheep Producers.


I invite you to join us for our next American Sheep Industry webinar on Tuesday, May 24 when Dr. Andrew Weaver of North Carolina State University will join us to discuss “Integrated Parasite Management Strategies for Sheep Producers.”  

You can register for the webinar by clicking the ‘Register Now’ link below. This will afford you not only access to the live webinar but also follow up emails with links to the webinar recording and PowerPoint slides. This webinar is made possible by the generous support of the American Sheep Industry Association. Let me know if you have any questions.

  Integrated Parasite Management Strategies for Sheep Producers Join us for a webinar on May 24, 2022 at 7:00 PM CDT. Register now! https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/785372782430938639 Presenter:
Dr. Andrew Weaver
Extension Specialist, Small Ruminants
North Carolina University

Host: Dr. Jay Parsons, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Time: 8:00 PM Eastern; 7:00 PM Central; 6:00 PM Mountain; 5:00 PM Pacific

Description:
Parasites continue to be a significant challenge for sheep production across the country. The failure of dewormers to adequately treat parasite infections has resulted in the need for alternative parasite management strategies. Unfortunately, there is no single cure. Rather, an integrated approach is needed where multiple strategies are implemented for effective parasite control. These strategies can include environment-based approaches as well as animal-based approaches. In this webinar, parasite biology and host-parasite interactions will be highlighted to provide context for parasite management. Discussion will follow on various parasite management strategies available and how they can be implemented in a sheep production system. A multifaceted approach to parasite management will be most successful in mitigating infection levels and improving sheep performance and well-being.   This webinar is made possible with funding support from the American Sheep Industry Association. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. View System Requirements  
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We Raise Farmers

On Solace Farm we are raising the next generation of Stewards of the Land and the creatures on it.

Mornings in the Barn
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Make A Drop Spindle

If you would like to learn how to spin, but buying a wheel just isn’t in your budget. Then here’s an easy and economical way to make you own drop spindle.

Go to a craft shop that sells wooden products and buy a wooden car wheel about 2-3 inches in diameter, this will be the whorl part of the spindle. The wheel has already been drilled with a hole in the exact center which will keep the spindle from wobbling when it spins.

Next you need to find a dowel rod that will fit snugly in the center hole of the wheel. This will be the shaft of your spindle. The dowel rods are 3 feet long when you purchase them. I cut my shaft at 9 or 12 inches, so 3 or 4 spindles can be made with one dowel rod.

After you have the dowel rod cut, push it into the center hole of your whorl (wheel) allowing about 1 to 1 1/2 inch to stick out the bottom. This is know as a low-whorl or bottom-whorl spindle.

Now, drill a small hole in the center of the shaft, in the end at the top. I use a 5/64″ drill bit. Purchase a 1/4″ cup hook and screw it into the top of the shaft. This acts as a “catch” for your yarn so that it doesn’t slip off the end while you are spinning. I usually sharpen the bottom end of the shaft to a dull point with a pencil sharpener so I can spin the spindle on a table top or in a small bowl like a top, if I want it supported.

You are now ready to add your “leader” yarn, to start your fiber on the spindle. You can use some home spun or store bought yarn around 12 to 14 inches in length. Tie this tightly to the shaft right above the whorl.

Next take the leader yarn over the side of the whorl, looped over the bottom inch that is sticking out, (this helps stabilize the yarn and balances the spin of the whorl) then back up over the side of the whorl and loop it onto the hook. Leave a couple of inches of yarn to start your fiber on.

Now you have an inexpensive tool to start learning to spin. Once you have mastered spinning on the spindle, learning to spin on the wheel will become much easier.

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Shepherd’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

FILLING

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground American lamb
  • 1- 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn

TOPPING

  • 3-4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium low heat. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

Add the carrots to the onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate or just push off to one side of the pan.

In the same pan, add the ground lamb, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Season with the salt and pepper, then mix the lamb with the vegetables and cook, stirring and continuing to break up the chunks of meat frequently, until the lamb is browned, about 10 minutes.

To the lamb and vegetable mixture, add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Sprinkle with the flour, then stir in to the meat mixture until evenly dispersed, cooking for 1-2 minutes.

Add the beef broth and cook for 3-5 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Then stir in the frozen peas and corn. Remove from heat and let cool while working on the mashed potatoes. Either leave in the cast iron pan, if it is oven safe, or transfer to a square baking dish.

Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover them by about an inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a fork. Drain well.

Add the warmed cream, butter, and salt to the potatoes and mash using a potato masher or ricer, then use to top the shepherd’s pie filling in either the cast iron pan or a square baking dish, spreading to the edges and leaving craggy swirls on top instead of smoothing out.

Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees F until hot all the way through and the mashed potatoes on top have nicely browned spots in a few places. You may want to place a pan under it in case any filling drips out. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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Prolapse in the EWE

Genetics appears sometimes involved as some breeds can be more susceptible, and also some individual breeding lines can seem at particular risk.

by Suzanna Bell, Veterinary Investigation Officer, AHVLA Aberystwyth

Vaginal prolapses can occur in ewes up to 55 days before lambing, but more commonly in the last four weeks of pregnancy, or shortly after lambing. An incidence of one per cent in flocks is common with some flocks experiencing rates of more than two per cent.

Vaginal prolapses increase the risk of ewe death but can also result in abortion/stillbirths, difficulty with lambing (dystocia) and new-born lamb deaths. The timing of cases seems to coincide with the relaxation and softening of the soft tissues and bones of the birth canal, initiated by hormone changes during late pregnancy.

Genetics appears sometimes involved as some breeds can be more susceptible, and also some individual breeding lines can seem at particular risk.

Suspected factors that could increase the risk of vaginal prolapse in ewes:

1.Fat deposits in the birth canal further slackening the soft tissues: both genetics and over-feeding could influence.

2.Hormone imbalance: thought to be genetically influenced in some cases. Mouldy feed might in some cases affect the hormone balance due to the presence of toxins that are similar in action to hormones.

3.Possibly hypocalcaemia (low calcium): although many cases have normal calcium levels.

4.A short docked tail: this may weaken the muscles/ligaments attaching to the tail bones.

5.Lambing difficulties in the previous pregnancy.

Previous vaginal prolapse: 40 per cent of ewes will prolapse again in subsequent pregnancies.

Increased abdominal pressure is also believed to be a major causal factor in combination with one or some of the above factors:

1.Large pregnant uterus (womb): multiple foetuses within the uterus is associated with a much increased risk, suggested as a five times increased risk for twins and even up to eleven/twelve times the risk for triplet bearing ewes.

2.Large amounts of intra-abdominal fat: over-conditioned, over fed ewes. Particularly if the condition score is greater than four.

3.Rumen distension: from feeding bulky feeds, an excess of dietary fibre or gas build up secondary to acidosis/grain over-load.

Other suggested predisposing factors in some flocks include:Lack of exercise: prolapses occur more commonly in housed than outdoor flocks, longer periods lying down may also influence.

Poor body condition: condition score of less than 2.

Lying on steep slopes: sheep tend to lie with the head uphill and gravity may encourage a prolapse in some cases.

Develop a plan with your veterinary surgeon to reduce the risk of vaginal prolapse to the minimum.

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Assessing Soil Health on Grazing Lands Using a Shovel and a Knife

Posted on April 8, 2022

By Justin Morris, NCAT Regenerative Grazing Specialist

Did you know you can do a soil health assessment on your own pasture without having to send in soil samples to a laboratory? And this assessment costs only your time because it requires no special tools. Using the senses of sight, smell, and touch, along with very simple hand tools — a shovel and a knife — you can determine the health of the soil in your pasture in less than 30 minutes.

The goals of the pasture soil health assessment are to:

  • Become more familiar with the soil that supports the plants that feed your livestock
  • Determine the current state of soil health at the time of the assessment when compared to a nearby area of high soil health
  • Determine whether soil health is improving or worsening based on at least two assessments conducted in the same spot at two different time periods
  • Gain insight on whether past and/or current grazing management efforts are making a positive or negative change to soil health

I created a video to demonstrate how to conduct a soil heath assessment, where you’ll learn:

  • Where to conduct a soil health assessment
  • How to conduct a soil health assessment beginning with the condition of the soil surface
  • Indicators of good or poor soil health
  • How grazing management affects soil health

Click the play button below to watch the YouTube video on how to do the assessment. Have questions? Feel free to contact me at justinm@ncat.org or 406-494-8664.

Related ATTRA Resources: 

Soils & Compost

Soil Health 101: Principles for Livestock Production 

Soil Health 101: Cover Crops and Water Infiltration  

Soil Health 101: Grazing and Soil Health with Jody Reye

Other Resources: 

Soil for Water

This blog is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

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Fig- Stuffed Boneless Leg of Lamb

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds boneless leg of American lamb
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup mixed herbs combined (parsley, mint, thyme)
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • 7 Orchard Valley Choice Mission Figs
  • 3 tablespoons pistachios

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Start by making the marinade.

In a food processor you’ll add the garlic, lemon juice, herbs, olive oil, seasoning and a dash of nutmeg (optional).

Remove the marinade and leave about two tablespoons of it in your food processor, to which you will add the filing ingredients. 

Add the feta cheese, pistachios and the figs. 

Process the filling in the food processor until it’s chunky.

Take your boneless leg of lamb and place it on a piece of parchment paper.

Spread the marinade all over the outer part of the lamb, and then flip the lamb to the other side. 

Spread the filling evenly all over the other side (the inside). 

Use the parchment paper as a guide and roll the lamb like a cylinder, tucking it well as you roll using the parchment paper.

Use kitchen twines cut into 6 inch ropes to tie the lamb very well about half an inch apart.

Place the lamb in the oven and right away drop the temperature to 350 degrees F.

Roast the lamb uncovered for about 50-60 minutes. Use a meat thermometer and make sure the internal temperature is 145 degrees F for medium rare, then let the lamb rest for at least 3 minutes before slicing.

Serve the lamb with an extra side of rice, some dried figs and a sprinkle of pistachios.

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Advanced Grazing for Regenerating Soil and Enhancing Animal Nutrition

NCAT is presenting a free, four-part webinar series led by agriculture specialists Justin Morris and Lee Rinehart. Advanced Grazing for Regenerating Soil and Enhancing Animal Nutrition focuses on advanced concepts in taking regenerative grazing to the next level. Dates are April 21, May 12, May 26, and  June 9, 2022. Register for any or all sessions.

DATE 

May 12

TIME

5:00pm – 6:30pm (CDT)

photo of goats grazing on grass field
Photo by Sophie Dale on Pexels.com

TAGS

NCAT Free Livestock and Pasture

CATEGORIES

Sustainable Agriculture  

EVENT STATUS

Online

ORGANIZER

NCAT

(406) 494-4572

ncat.org

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March Madness

March is the month when January planning and February preparing begins to pay off. The lambs and kids have begun to arrive by now as have the piglets. The seeds I ordered, after pouring over the seed catalogs, have also arrived and will soon all be nestled in the soil germinating. The chickens have begun to lay, so now the routine of checking on and turning eggs in the incubator has been added to the day.

     The renewing of life as spring fast approaches is a delightful time and a hectic time. The first fleeces are off the sheep. I always try to shear before the ewes lamb for two reasons. First, it makes it easier to watch over their progress toward lambing and secondly, it makes for a premium, clean fleece to work with. Now the dilemma is over which fleeces to sell raw, which to make into batts or roving and which go into my private treasury.

     March is also the month for marketing to be kicked into high gear. The annual farm letter goes out to alert our loyal customers that they need to place their orders for meat animals for this year. Web and print advertising go full scale as we are weekly adding Breeding Stock available for sale and soon the spring’s first crops of fleece and seedlings as well. It is wonderful to have the explosion of production and now is the time to share this with our customers.

      Amidst all this activity there is the list of preparations for spring planting as well as fence repairs on all the paddocks. I swear there are gremlins riding the deer who delight in breaking wires and pushing posts over in the spring thaw.

     This is the time of year when I often allow the excitement of renewal to turn into worry over all that needs to get done and finding the time to do it. This is when the planning and preparing of January and February becomes the ever growing “to do” list of spring. Having a Check List on the fridge helps me track my progress, keeping me feeling like I am gaining on the tasks at hand.

     I often remind myself that Christ said, “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Keeping my focus on the tasks of today leads to enjoying the delights of spring from the first returning robin to the first tomato sprouts. This is the way to relish a farmer’s life in the midst of all the activity that spring brings.

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Finnsheep for the Farmstead

– Finnsheep mature earlier than most other breeds

– Finnsheep ewes naturally cycle out of season

– Finnsheep ewes naturally produce larger litters (2-3/litter) than competitive breeds

without flushing for increased ovulation rates.

– Quality Finnsheep possess better wool traits than other breeds known for high

reproductive abilities allowing farmers to shear a premium, saleable wool clip.

– The single coated Finnsheep fleece possesses better crimp, luster and handle than all

other short-tailed breeds, allowing a much more diverse use of the wool by a larger

variety of markets.

– The docile, friendly temperament of the Finnsheep makes them one of the easiest

sheep breeds to safely work with (children, adults and seniors).

– The Finnsheep is a polled breed, providing additional safety for handlers, preventing

the sheep from getting their horns stuck in fencing and eliminating the risk of

infections or infestations of the horn.

– The naturally short tails of the Finnsheep require no docking

– The Finnsheep crosses well with most other breeds, improving wool, temperament

and production traits in the cross-bred flock

– Scrapie resistant genetics are available within the Finnsheep breed.

– Finnsheep ewes possess excellent mothering abilities

– Finnsheep ewes receiving proper nutrition produce an abundant supply of milk for

typical Finnsheep litters (2-3 lambs/litter).

– Finnsheep meats are leaner as Finnsheep deposit fat around their organs, not

throughout their muscle tissue, providing a healthier meat for the consumer.

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What is your Grazing Plan?

This video examines the various grazing strategies and points to consider when developing your grazing plan.  There is no one system that works for every environment. Knowing different strategies will help you to utilize your land to the best advantage for your animals, wildlife and ecosystem.

 The human factor is the most important detail in implementing your grazing plan.  Being knowledgeable about your weather patterns, plant species and having a detailed plan including evaluations of the pasture is imperative in being successful in a sustainable livestock operation.

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Manage Weeds on Your Farm: An Ecological Approach

By: SARE Outreach

Sustainable weed management is essential for improving crop yield and increasing farm and ranch profitability. SARE’s newest book, Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies, examines the biology and behavior of common weeds and provides an integrated set of non-chemical control strategies that exploits their weaknesses. Manage Weeds on Your Farm will help organic and conventional farmers alike better understand and manage weeds efficiently, effectively and ecologically. Manage Weeds on Your Farm features profiles of five farmers who use the physical, ecological and biological factors of common weeds to develop science-based management strategies appropriate for their operations. “In my opinion, this book has the best information on weed management that is available today,” says Klaas Martens of Lakeview

Download PDF

Order in print

Organic Grain of Penn Yan, N.Y. “Our understanding of weed control is still growing rapidly, and this book will certainly become an invaluable tool for every farmer who wants to control their weeds sustainably.” 

Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies is written by the late Charles L. Mohler, John R. Teasdale and Antonio DiTommaso; it is published by SARE. 

Manage Weeds on Your Farm: A Guide to Ecological Strategies is free to read online or to download as a PDF at www.sare.org/weeds. Print copies can be ordered online for $24 each, plus shipping and handling. Call (301) 779–1007 for telephone, tax-free, rush or purchase orders. Discounts apply for orders of 10 or more copies.

Topics: 2022AgronomicChemical ControlCover CropsCrop RotationCultural ControlFruitIntegrated Pest ManagementMulchesOrganic AgriculturePest ManagementPhysical ControlPreventionSoil ManagementVegetablesWeed Ecology

Related Locations: North CentralNortheastSouthWest

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Cattle Health Webinar Series – UC Davis

UC Cooperative Extension in collaboration with UC Davis Veterinary Medicine is excited to offer a free online webinar series for cattle producers. Every Tuesday evening in March from 5:30-7:00 we will have guest speakers presenting with a question and answer session, covering topics important to cattle health and management.  This session will be live and will include lots of visuals.

Please register for one or all session by clicking here. 

For questions or assistance please contact Tracy Schohr, livestock and natural resources advisor for Plumas, Sierra and Butte Counties at tkschohr@ucanr.edu or 916-716-2643.

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Looking for On-farm Diversification? Consider Pastured Pigs

Guest Blog by By Mike Lewis, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

I once had a platoon sergeant who liked to say, “The best defense is having a diversity of offense.” It wasn’t until recently that I made this connection to my farm and to my work at NCAT. One of the most common topics that I speak with farmers about is how to best diversify their operation to successfully weather the current reality we find ourselves in, the increasing cost of inputs, and the constantly changing climate, all of which make decisions even more important, as any mistake is amplified in the current environment. One of the things I truly appreciate about working at NCAT is the diversity of expertise, all focused on the same goal of supporting farmers and the environment.

While this is not a blog on farm diversity, it is always good to talk about on-farm diversification. On my family’s farm in eastern Kentucky, we are constantly evaluating our systems and looking for ways to improve our ecological and economic bottom line. Toward this goal, we made the decision several years ago to introduce pastured pigs to our operation. While this may not work for every farm, it worked very well for us.

Why Pasture?

Happy Pigs Photo: Mike Lewis, NCAT

First, it provides our customers better-quality meat, both in taste and nutritional content, as well as in a community sense.  In his book, This Holy Earth, the naturalist Liberty Bailey reminds us that, “one does not act rightly toward one’s fellows if one does not know how to act rightly towards the earth.” I always liked this quote because it articulates the point that caring for the earth and the creatures that share it with us is an act of community. Raising pigs on pasture is better for the pigs, the planet, and the community.

Second, pigs can be an effective tool to help manage your land and improve soil fertility. On my farm, we use pigs to help clear and maintain our forests and sometimes in our gardens to help with tillage. They are an important part of our overall production system, and they can help save us time and money by doing some work for us.

Finally, pigs get to be pigs. Being on pasture allows pigs to get exercise and helps prevent stress and other diseases. With proper planning and rotations, your pigs will have a more natural diet, better attitudes, and a better quality of life. This helps with overall health and wellness of your stock, while also helping to decrease your farm’s dependence on external inputs.

Pasture Considerations

It is important to consider how pigs will fit into your farm’s rotational plan because, as we have learned from experience, pigs can go from being beneficial to being a destructive force overnight. On my family’s farm, we classify our pasture into two types, forest and field. Our stock rotates through these throughout the year, but for the most part, our pigs stay in the forest-based pasture. An important thing to consider is how much pasture you have available, and how often you can rotate those pastures. If pastures are overgrazed, or if pigs are confined in a paddock for too long, they can destroy the soil and hard pack the soil. You should spend a fair amount of time determining the number of pigs your land.

Regardless of where you intend to pasture pigs, you will need to provide them with adequate access to clean water and shelter. Our pigs are pastured a long distance from the water source, so we use a series of 350-gallon storage tanks that we fill weekly using a gas-powered pump that delivers water from a nearby spring-fed pond. While the pump and waterlines have a large upfront cost, they have paid for themselves multiple times, as we spend only about 45 minutes of labor a week topping off the tanks. In our climate, zone 6a, we need to add water heaters for about three months out of the year to ensure that the tanks do not freeze during colder nights.

One of the most important factors in determining your pasture location and layout is your ability to access the pasture when caring for your pigs. Sometimes the best pasture location can increase your workload significantly. Be sure you have a strategy to deal with any challenges presented by pasture location. Our shelters are simple hoop houses constructed of livestock panels that we can easily pull up and move as needed, typically every 120 days or so.

Forage

Raising pigs on pasture allows you to offset your external feed inputs, which will help improve your farm’s profitability. We breed our sows in late November or early December, which puts our farrowing date in mid-March. This timing means that from September through November, when the pigs are approaching market weight and eating a lot more, our forest pastures are filled with nuts from the Black Walnut, Hickory, and Oak trees in our pastures. Another strategy we use is to under-sow the forest with turnip and beet seed early in the spring, March and April in my climate, as these crops will provide additional fodder and ensure some dietary balance to the high-protein nuts.

As I said earlier, our pigs spend most of their time in forest-based pastures, but we do bring them into the fields throughout the season to help with clean up, tillage, and fertilization. Every year, we plant about 2 acres of corn, beans, and squash using the traditional three sisters method. In October, we move the pigs in to the three sisters plantings to glean what we left behind for them. The sows get a little fatter right before the winter and turn over the field to help prepare it for our overwinter cover crop planting. Typically, this consists of winter peas, vetch, and clover. If you are planting your fields for pasture, you might consider using a mix of alfalfa, clovers, and bluegrass. I hope this quick overview makes you want to learn more about adding pastured pigs to your operation. I encourage you all to do your research and to reach out with any questions. The introduction of pigs to a farm system can be a cost-effective way to diversify your operation and increase your on-farm revenue. Pigs are not only an important part of our operation, but they also bring us a lot of joy and humor daily. I hope you also find this to be true.

Related ATTRA Resources:

ATTRA Grazing Planning Manual and Workbook  

Hogs: Pastured or Forested Production 

Featured post

Plan the Work – Work the Plan 

My favorite part of February is changing my focus from harvest and completing the yearly tasks to planning for the adventure of the coming year.  I get a sense of accomplishment as I complete the year end paper work for taxes and take the time to evaluate what we accomplished on the farm.  By spending the first two weeks of February doing that cumulative evaluation it helps the plans and goals of the new year to take shape.

 We have long term goals for 5 and 10 years out and in February we look at how our past year and short term goals for 1 to 3 years are fitting in with those long term targets.  We ask ourselves, are we on course or have we changed direction?  When these questions have been answered, then we set our budget and begin mapping out our monthly and quarterly plans.

     This period of planning the work is exciting to me because of all the possibilities the year holds.  Yes, we evaluate what went wrong or didn’t work last year – we adjust and move on.  There is no sense in crying over spilt milk, so to speak, so we don’t dwell on regrets.  February is a time to see what went right and capitalize on those successes.

person holding white stylus
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

     The difficult part of this process for me (and hence for Rob because he has to keep reminding me) is keeping my focus and setting CLEAR priorities.  The problem for me is there is so much I can do and I can see how they all would be good endeavors but not all will fit within my defined goals or the hours in a day.  It is even harder to limit the scope of my plans so I have the time and energy to give each task.  I have to remember if I over commit myself I lose the ability to do the important tasks while enjoying the Farming Lifestyle, which after all is why I’m farming in the first place.

Featured post

Cabrito Loaf

1/4 cup chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped onion or dry onion flakes

1/4 cup shredded carrots

1 chopped Jalapeno (optional) fresh or canned

1 egg (beaten)

1 cup croutons, stale bread crumbs or stuffing mix

1 T each: salt, black pepper and garlic powder

Mix together and let stand five minutes.

Add in 2 lbs. ground Cabrito (goat meat) and mix well pack into loaf pan.

 Bake at 350 for 1 1/2hours.

 Remove from oven.

Mix 1/4 cup catsup and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce and spread over the top of loaf.

Bake another 5 minutes.

Remove from oven, Cool it and Serve.

Serves six people normally.

Keep the leftovers for Meatloaf Sandwiches the next day!

meatloaf sanswich
Photo by Rajesh TP on Pexels.com
Featured post

Pan Seared Lamb Loin Chops with Tart Cherry Compote

Recipe provided by

Chef Billy Parisi

INGREDIENTS

For the Marinade:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely minced fresh thyme
  • 1 large peeled and small diced shallot
  • 6 finely minced garlic cloves
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cups of olive oil + 1 tablespoon
  • 10 4-ounce American lamb loin chops
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Sauce: 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small peeled and small diced shallot
  • 2 finely minced garlic cloves
  • ½ cup red wine, I prefer merlot
  • 3 cups good beef stock
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon each finely minced fresh thyme, parsley, and chives
  • 2 teaspoons of crushed pistachios

DIRECTIONS

Marinade: add the thyme, shallots, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil to a large bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Transfer the lamb loin chops to a 13×9 casserole dish and pour the marinade over top. Move the lamb around to ensure they are completely coated. Cover the lamb with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours or overnight.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to lightly smoke. Remove some of the garlic and shallots off the lamb chops and place them in the pan making sure they are far enough apart so that the sear and not steam. Add in the 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. 

Cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. The USDA recommends cooking the lamb loin chops until they reach an internal temperature of 145° and then letting them rest for 3 minutes before serving. Set the seared lamb onto a plate and set aside.

Sauce: Remove the cooked oil from the pan and return it to the burner over medium heat and add in 1 tablespoons of butter with the shallots and garlic and cook for 30 to 45 seconds or until lightly browned and cooked.

Deglaze with the red wine and cook over medium-high heat until there is about 1 tablespoon remaining. Add in the beef stock and cook over high heat until it is reduced to ½ to ¾ cup in liquid amount.

Finish the sauce by adding in cherries, the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and herbs and mix until combined.

Add the lamb chops back in and heat over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to warm back up.

Serve the lamb chops by sprinkling on the pistachios and add any additional chopped fresh herbs.  

Featured post

Virtual Workshop on Beekeeping

NCAT Gulf States’s Felicia Bell will be hosting a virtual workshop on beekeeping. Beekeeper Ali Pinion will share about getting started in beekeeping on a budget, alternative beekeeping methods, revenue sources from hives, and much more. 

Ali owns Dreaming The Bee Apiary in Starkville, Mississippi. 

This workshop is free. Pre-registration is required.

Register in Zoom HERE. 

Ali Pinion

DATE 

February 16

TIME

2:00pm – 3:30pm (CST)

TAGS

NCAT Small Farm Beekeeping

CATEGORIES

Sustainable Agriculture  

EVENT STATUS

Online

ORGANIZER

NCAT

(406) 494-4572

ncat.org

Featured post

Building Strong Foundations, Part 3. Choosing Livestock for Your Farm

part 3 of 3

In the final session of the three-part Building Strong Foundations series for beginning livestock farmers, NCAT Specialists draw on their own experience to offer tips for success in starting a livestock operation with worms, poultry, rabbits, hogs, sheep, and goats, or cattle. Learn about respecting the limits of your land and choosing a livestock species based on resource base, marketing, and goals. To give an idea of the options available, NCAT specialists provide virtual tours of their own farms.

Find Part 1 here.

Find Part 2 here.

This video is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. For more sustainable-agriculture resources, including podcasts, publications, webinars, videos, databases and a free “Ask an Ag Expert” hotline, visit the ATTRA webpage at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

Featured post

Building Strong Foundations, Part 1. Soil Health: Your Grazing Foundation

Part 1 of 3

Taking care of your land.
Wondering how to get started with livestock? In the first of a three-part series for beginning livestock farmers, NCAT specialists introduce the principles of soil health and explain how healthy land is the foundation of successful livestock production. Presenters explain the concepts of minimizing disturbance, maximizing biodiversity, keeping soil covered, maintaining living roots in the soil, and including animals. Find out how grazing affects the plant, soils, and livestock and learn the importance of grazing plants at the right time and allowing full plant recovery before re-grazing. By respecting the soil health and grazing principles, you can take better care of your land.

Find Part 2 here.

Find Part 3 here.

This video is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. For more sustainable-agriculture resources, including podcasts, publications, webinars, videos, databases and a free “Ask an Ag Expert” hotline, visit the ATTRA webpage at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

Featured post

Cumin Lamb Noodles

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 package wide rice noodles, cooked (16 ounces)
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 pound American lamb shoulder, thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 serrano pepper, finely chopped, optional
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chili oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

To Garnish:

  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Chili oil, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and toast the cumin and sichuan peppercorns for about 2-3 minutes. Coarsely grind the spices in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your noodles according to the package instructions. Reserve about 1 cup of your pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta, and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat to high and add the sliced lamb. Stir-fry the lamb until just browned. Add the ground spice mixture, green onions, yellow onion, serrano pepper, soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar. Let cook for about 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture becomes too thick.

Add the cooked noodles to the skillet, adding additional pasta cooking liquid if needed and toss to coat. Season with salt, if needed.

Serve garnished with cilantro and drizzled with chili oil. Enjoy!

Be sure to sign up for our Blog for great recipes in your email.

Featured post

Benefits of Perennial Forages, Shrubs, and Trees for Livestock

By NCAT

NCAT Gulf States’ Felicia Bell will be hosting NCAT Grazing Specialist Justin Morris for this workshop on the benefits of shrubs and trees for livestock production. 

Often looked upon as a nuisance or unusable to the landowner, shrubs and trees can be a valuable resource for any livestock operation. In this workshop, Justin will discuss how shrubs and trees can:

  • Improve carrying capacity and stocking rate
  • Improve animal health
  • Insulate the farm or ranch from drought
  • Improve profitability

This workshop is free. Click here to register in Zoom. 

brown cows on green grass field
Photo by Riccardo Bertolo on Pexels.com

DATE 

February 23

TIME

2:00pm – 3:30pm (CST)

TAGS

NCAT Soil Health Livestock and Pasture

CATEGORIES

Sustainable Agriculture Soil for Water  

EVENT STATUS

Online

ORGANIZER

NCAT

(406) 494-4572

ncat.org

Featured post

Building Strong Foundations, Part 2. Adaptive Grazing: Matching Land and Livestock

part 2 of 3

How many animals should I have?
This is the second session of the three-part Building Strong Foundations series for beginning livestock farmers. Learn about soil structure and its effect on water infiltration​, then find out how to determine the carrying capacity​ of your land. Find out how adaptive management​ helps you “keep your eyes on the prize” through observing, implementing, and adapting. Having the right number of livestock for your farm will help you take better care of your land and make money with fewer costs.

Find Part 1 here.

Find Part 3 here.

This video is produced by the National Center for Appropriate Technology through the ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program, under a cooperative agreement with USDA Rural Development. ATTRA.NCAT.ORG. For more sustainable-agriculture resources, including podcasts, publications, webinars, videos, databases and a free “Ask an Ag Expert” hotline, visit the ATTRA webpage at ATTRA.NCAT.ORG.

Featured post

Signup for Free USDA Webinars on Tax Information on Livestock Sales and Disaster Losses

Tax season is just around the corner and there are a variety of important considerations for farmers and livestock producers. USDA has partnered with agriculture tax experts around the country to connect producers to important tax information related to their operations. In February USDA is hosting two informational webinars on income tax treatment of livestock sales and disaster losses. Join us on February 7th and 8th for presentations featuring JC Hobbs of Oklahoma State University to learn about the special tax rules that may apply to your operation.

Monday, February 7, 2022: 3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)   

Income Tax Treatment of Weather-Related Sales of Livestock 

black smartphone on top of documents
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Breeding, dairy, or livestock (excluding poultry) sold due to drought, flood, or other weather-related condition are potentially eligible for special tax treatment, as this sale is considered an involuntary conversion. This presentation will cover the application of these tax rules which allows for the postponement of gain recognition when replacement animals are purchased. 

The gain from the sale of any livestock, including poultry, in excess of the normal number of animals sold annually due to drought, flood, or other weather-related condition may allow the reporting of gain to be postponed until the following year. Special tax rules apply, allowing the postponement to occur. This presentation will cover the rules and procedures that must be followed to postpone the reporting of gain. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022: 3:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)   

Income Tax Rules that Apply to Disaster Losses 

tax documents on the table
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

The tax treatment for losses of property due to disasters varies depending upon whether the item was personal, business or investment property. In addition, consideration is given to the amount of the loss impacted by insurance proceeds, the tax basis of the property at the time of the loss, or disaster payments received. This presentation will cover the tax treatment that applies to losses of property resulting from a disaster. 

Register for both webinars on Farmers.gov: Beginning Farmers and Ranchers | Farmers.govRegister

Register

Featured post

Working with Your Farm’s Ecosystem

For the Love of the Wild: Livestock Pastures as Wildlife Habitat

Posted on February 1, 2022

By Lee Rinehart, NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist

photo of deer on grass field
Photo by Matthis on Pexels.com

Warm-season grasses provide wildlife habitat and excellent livestock forage. Photo: NRCS

Farmers, ranchers, and researchers have come to understand that the functionality of ecosystems on farms is largely dependent on plant and animal biodiversity. Functional ecological processes and services, such as soil and water quality, renewal and regeneration of soil and plant organisms, and nutrient cycling on farms and ranches, are facilitated by biology, necessitating maintenance of biological integrity and diversity in agroecosystems (Altieri, 1999). It is not surprising that adaptive multi-paddock grazing is an effective conservation practice on grazing lands for enhancing water conservation and protecting water quality (Park et al., 2017), as well as enhancing soil carbon, fertility, and soil water-holding capacity (Teague and Barnes, 2017) that soil organisms rely on for building healthy soil.

But there is another aspect of biodiversity that is just as important as soil and plant organisms. Livestock and wildlife compete for landscape resources, and they both put pressure on the forage available, as well as water, cover, and space, depending on their resource needs. In fact, wildlife species often “require considerably greater amounts of space to achieve acceptable levels of reproductive performance whereby survival of a population is assured” (Barnes et al., 1991). Birds need cover and shelter during their reproductive phase, and deer and elk need forage, cover, water, and a range large enough for them to thrive. Small mammals need space and protection from predators, and fish need quality streams and ponds. The concepts of resource supply and demand are just as important for wildlife as they are for livestock, and this affects our grazing management.

Historically, livestock have been a destructive force on landscapes (Ohmart, 1996), but they don’t have to be. Our agricultural landscapes are habitat for wildlife, connected and ecologically linked to set-aside wild lands, parks and reserves, wetlands and riparian zones, abandoned farms, privately owned non-agricultural forests and fields, and peri-urban low-density residential areas, which make up a large portion of the land in many areas. The ecology of our lands has changed over time due to invasive species, exotic species, removal of large carnivores, and human encroachment. But farmers and landowners have become better wildlife stewards, and many include wildlife habitat into their whole- farm plans out of love of the wild and for quiet woods and fields populated with majestic creatures. And they invite friends and neighbors into the woods to see and reflect on the wildness that constitutes an important part of their farm.eggs in nest

Nest located on land where NRCS has provided technical assistance to landowners in the prairie pothole region of northeastern South Dakota.

We have a large toolbox of practices that can help us be better stewards of our land and all its inhabitants. One way of including wildlife in farm planning is to manage plant succession to favor diversity that is beneficial for wildlife. The desired plant community for a diverse population of wildlife species is one comprised of a diversity of grasses, forbs, and woody plants interspersed across the landscape and having different structures in terms of size, growth form, and physical maturity (Stevens, 2016). Livestock grazing can be used to manipulate various paddocks to maintain different habitats throughout the grazing season. For example, habitat requirements vary seasonally for nesting, breeding, feeding, etc. for different wildlife species. Standing vegetation is often best for nesting birds but grazed diverse vegetation is good for feeding sites (Vavra, 2005). This is just one example of including practices that take wildlife into consideration.

An adaptive grazing system, because of its inherent flexibility, can be compatible with wildlife habitat management by mimicking the seasonal movement of species based on forage quality and quantity (Schieltz and Rubenstein, 2016). It can foster diverse landscapes at various times of the year by manipulating animal numbers in paddocks, grazing some paddocks heavily and some lightly, and some perhaps not at all for a part of the season, leaving diverse grasses and forbs ungrazed for a part of the year for wildlife.

There are many resources to help farmers, ranchers, and landowners foster wildlife habitat on their land, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Partners Program, which works with private landowners to plan and implement on-farm projects to create, restore, or enhance habitat for wildlife. Farmers and ranchers are telling their own stories of restoration of the land for its own sake, much like Meredith Ellis, a second-generation Texas rancher, put it better than anyone I’ve heard when she said that species diversity and rare species are indicators that you’re doing something right (Ellis, 2021).

Reference:

Ellis, Meredith. 2021. Keynote presentation at the 2021 National Grazing Lands Coalition Conference, Myrtle Beach, SC.

Related ATTRA Resource:

Adaptive Grazing – You Can Do It

Other Resources:

The Basics of Managing Wildlife on Agricultural Lands

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Partners Program

Featured post

Lambing Tipi

We have these in our lambing jugs during January and February lambing:

Even on the coldest night it can be up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in these with two or three lambs snuggled up tight.

Materials List

*I sheet of 3/8 or ½ inch plywood

* 4 8 foot long 2×2

*75 1 ½ inch deck screws

* 2 lightweight 1 ½ inch hinges with screws

* 10 3 to 4 inch deck screws

Assembly

Always remember to put the screws in from the plywood side through to the 2×2 framing.

1. Measure the long sides of the two triangles and cut 4 pieces of 2×2 to fit that length. Screw the 2×2 in place flush with the edges of the plywood pieces.

2. Measure the length between these 2x2s along the bottom and top edge of the plywood. Cut 2×2 to fit those spaces and screw into place.

3. Place the “front sections” on the floor right side up and attach the access door at the center seam with the two hinges.

4. Hold the solid back section and the two sides sections up in place and measure the distance between the framing at the top and again at the bottom. Cut 2 pieces of 2×2 to fit each space. Center one piece that you just cut at the top and another at the bottom back and secure the extra set to your front section.

5. Secure the “Back” wall to the side walls by screwing plywood to the framing of the side walls. At this point you have a 32 sided structure. Place the front section in place and screw to the framing as you did the back. Take one long deck screw and screw into the framing at top and bottom at each joint. Your Lamb Tipi is complete.

6. You can place a safety heat lamb on the top of the tipi to provide extra warmth on those cold winters, early spring nights.  

Be sure to sign up for our Blog Newsletter to get all the Solace Farm News in your inbox.

Featured post

Lamb Dumplings in Spicy Ginger Broth

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound ground American lamb
  • 1/2 cup minced mushrooms (crimini or button)
  • 1 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 package fresh wonton wrappers
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Broth

  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chili oil, for serving
  • Green onions, sliced, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, green onions, and a pinch of salt and black pepper.

To assemble: Add about 1 teaspoon lamb filling to each wonton wrapper. Brush water around the edges of the wrapper then fold the edges up around the filling and pinch to seal. Add sesame seeds to a small bowl or shallow dish. Brush the bottoms of the dumplings with water then dip in sesame seeds.

Heat 1 TBSP sesame oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add the broth, soy sauce, and the rice vinegar. Season to taste with pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Keep warm.

Heat 2 TBSP vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the dumplings and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Carefully add 1/4 cup water to the skillet, and cover immediately. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the dumplings steam for 5-6 minutes*.

Ladle broth into bowls and top with wontons, green onions and chili oil. Enjoy!

*Note: USDA recommends cooking ground lamb to 160 degrees.

Be sure to sign up for our Blog for great recipes in your email!

Featured post

Building a Strong Foundation for Working with Livestock

By Linda Coffey, NCAT Livestock Specialistlambs and ewes in pasture

Photo: Linda Coffey, NCAT

Years of farming and visiting other farms, combined with recent education in soil health, have convinced me of this: We can best serve people, the land, and the livestock by learning to care for the soil FIRST. 

That’s why NCAT’s Livestock and Grazing Team began with this foundation when they gathered to teach a three-part series for beginning livestock producers.   

If you missed that series, no worries—you can watch recordings of each part at your convenience and share the links with others who are managing land or considering starting a livestock enterprise. Here’s what you will find in each session: 

Part 1-Soil Health: Your Grazing Foundation

NCAT specialists introduce the principles of soil health and explain how healthy land is the foundation of successful livestock production. Presenters explain the concepts of minimizing disturbance, maximizing biodiversity, keeping soil covered, maintaining living roots in the soil, and including animals. Find out how grazing affects the plant, soils, and livestock and learn the importance of grazing plants at the right time and allowing full plant recovery before re-grazing. By respecting the soil health and grazing principles, you can take better care of your land. See the additional resources for this session.

Part 2-Adaptive Grazing: Matching Land and Livestock

Learn about soil structure and its effect on water infiltration, then find out how to determine the carrying capacity of your land. Find out how adaptive management helps you “keep your eyes on the prize” through observing, implementing, and adapting. Having the right number of livestock for your farm will help you take better care of your land and make money with fewer costs. See the additional resources for this session.

Part 3-Choosing Livestock for the Farm  

NCAT specialists draw on their own experience to offer tips for success in starting a livestock operation with worms, poultry, rabbits, hogs, sheep, and goats, or cattle. Learn about respecting the limits of your land and choosing a livestock species based on resource base, marketing, and goals. To give an idea of the options available, NCAT specialists provide virtual tours of their own farms. Each session has a customized resource page for more information because an hour is just enough time to whet your appetite to learn more. See the additional resources for this session. See the additional resources for this session.

Our experienced team of livestock specialists periodically offers training sessions. We have several on tap during the next few months, including free webinars hosted by Food Animal Concerns Trust (foodanimalconcernstrust.org) and an advanced grazing training to be held in April 2022. Watch NCAT’s Events page so you don’t miss it! Let us know what topics you’d like us to teach in the coming year. Email me at lindac@ncat.org and I will pass the ideas on to the team. 

Thank you for the work you do in caring for soil, plants, and livestock! Please join us at the forum at the Soil for Water forum to network with other producers who care about stewarding the land well. 

Related ATTRA Resources:

Livestock and Pasture

Regenerative Grazing

Soil and Ecosystem Health

Other Resources:

Soil for Water

Featured post

New webinar from Seed Savers Exchange!

Join us Tuesday, January 25 @ 1 PM Central
Seeds to Grow and Share
shallow focus of sprout
Photo by Gelgas Airlangga on Pexels.com
New webinar from Seed Savers Exchange!   Join us Tuesday, January 25 @ 1 PM Central This is the second seed rematriation webinar of a four-part series highlighting the 2021-2022 seed rematriation work with seven partners funded through a North Central SARE Partnership grant awarded to Seed Savers Exchange.    Join us to learn how Indigenous farmers, activists, communities, and nations are welcoming seeds home to grow and share.   
The second webinar will be held Tuesday, January 25, 2022 from 1 – 2 PM Central Time (US). Find your time zone.  
This webinar is open to the public. Based on the enthusiasm for the first session we have doubled our capacity for live attendees.  

Note: The event will be recorded and shared with everyone who registers. Even if you are unable to join us live you will be able to watch it at your own convenience. 
  Register Today
Seed rematriation addresses the desire for Indigenous communities to actively reclaim their ancestral seeds and traditions. Moderated by Shelley Buffalo, this session features panelists Shiloh Maples and Rosebud Bear-Scheider sharing information on  their experience with the rematriation process, regional variation/northern climate growing, Indigenous Seed Keepers Network initiatives, and ways this partnership could be modeled for others looking to engage in this work.  
Featured post

My Favorite Knitting Needle Set

Supporting the Pink Project is now a lot more colorful!

The original Pink Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needle Kit is now available in three color versions.  Each set includes a $5 donation to cancer research through the S.D. Ireland Cancer Research Fund.  Read more about our Pink Project here.    
 
Three great choices in the original pink Denise Interchangeable Knitting Needle case!  We’re pretty excited.    

Pink Knitting Kit “Brights” set

The new Pink Knitting Kit, Brights set sends fund to cancer research with a vibrant splash of color!   This set includes: Ten bright knitting needle sizes, US5/3.75mm to 15/10mm. Six turquoise cords: 5” 9” 12” 14” 16” 19” (13, 23, 30, 36, 41 and 48 cm). Four end buttons to turn any cord into a stitch holder or to use as an end cap for a straight, flexible needle. Two extenders for cord-to-cord connections. Hard-shelled case that holds everything perfectly in place!  

Pink Knitting Kit in Pastels

The Pink Knitting Kit in Pastels has a new look with spring green cords.  Same contents as its Bright counterpart and, of course, a $5 donation to the Pink Project!    

The Original Pink Knitting Kit

The original Pink Knitting Kit with gray needles is back with a new look!  Teal cords coordinate beautifully with the needles, and the neutrality of the light gray makes it easy to see complex patternwork.

Denise2Go Knitting Complete “Bright Pink” set

Prefer a Denise2Go style but still want to support the Pink Project?  Denise2Go Knitting, Complete “Bright Pink” sets have the same contents as our original hard-shelled knitting kits, but in a compact cotton case.    

Drnise2Go for knitting, Sharp Short Tip Complete “Fans”

The same contents again, but in Sharp Short Tips, our Denise2Go for Knitting, Sharp Short Tip Complete “Fans” set also sends a $5 donation to the Pink Project.    

The Crochet Collection also features multiple options that send a donation to the research lab.  These include our original Crochet Hook Kit, Pastel.  With all twelve hook sizes (F5/3.75mm-19/15mm) and seven cords, this is our most complete interchangeable hook set.        Denise2Go for Crochet, “Bright Pink” sets include 6 hook sizes (H8/5mm to M13/9mm), ideal for working Tunisian crochet projects in yarns from lace weight up to chunky weight, plus a $2 donation to cancer research.    

Don’t forget the accessories!  Companion Sets in Pink include six cord lengths (5″, 9″, 12″, 14″, 16″, and 19″) plus four end buttons and two extenders, and a $2 donation.

Companion Sets in Pink

Wishing you cozy solitude (if your pattern requires it) and joy in your yarn-crafting!

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Feeding the Future and Improving the Planet: A New Video from Producer’s Voice

A common misconception outside of the industry is that in order to accommodate for the food demands of our growing population, there is going to be an environmental toll on the planet. In another short video from the NatGLC’s Youtube library, we can remind each other that diverse environments and covered soils are actually cleaning up the planet in the process of meeting these food demands. 

Watch

corn fields under white clouds with blue sky during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
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Spicy Lamb Coconut Curry Ramen

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons sambal oelek

2 shallots, peeled and halved

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 (2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup cilantro stems, chopped

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

2 (14 ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk

2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Kosher salt

Spicy Lamb (recipe below)

2 (3 ounce) packages instant ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded*

2 eggs

1 bunch scallions, very thinly sliced

1 lime, sliced into wedges

Cilantro, for garnish

FOR THE SPICY LAMB

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 pound American ground lamb

2-3 teaspoons sambal oelek, depending upon how spicy you’d like

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Puree sambal oelek, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder and 3 tablespoons water in a food processor until a smooth-ish paste forms.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the above paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes. Whisk in coconut milk and broth and season generously with Kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Add fish sauce and brown sugar, and cook for at least 5 more minutes. Pour soup through a fine mesh strainer and discard solids. Return soup to the pot and keep hot.

Meanwhile, cook eggs: bring water to boil in a medium saucepan. Lower heat to a rapid “hard simmer”. Carefully lower eggs into water and cook for exactly 6 1/2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove eggs from water and place in an ice bath (bowl filled with very icy water). Let eggs cool completely, then carefully peel and slice in half.

Meanwhile, cook spicy lamb: heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb and season with Kosher salt, breaking into small bite-sized pieces as it cooks, until no pink remains, about 6 minutes. Stir in sambal oelek, garlic powder, and ginger powder and cook for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and set aside until soup is done.

Cook ramen noodles in boiling water until just cooked through (if you cook too long, they will turn to mush).

Divide broth between bowls. Add ramen noodles, spicy lamb, scallions, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Devour immediately.

NOTES

*You can also feel free to use another type of noodle-like thicker stir fry rice noodles or even spaghetti!

**If you have extra soup and lamb leftover, refrigerate and reheat for a future meal!

Be sure to sign up for our Blog for great recipes in your email

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Free Workshop!
Creating a Vision for Your Farm/Ranch

Do you know what you want
your farm or ranch to look like?

How about your finances, watershed, or family?
Do you have a picture of what your life will look like in 5 years?
Step out of your endless chore loop and choose a new path.

In this free workshop Jenn Colby shows you a manageable process to develop a vision, whether you are figuring it out by yourself or bringing the whole farm or ranch with you. You’ll walk away with a step-by-step guide to take home, and we’ll go through how to vision in person or online (it works!).

Join On Pasture on January 25.  Let’s set ourselves up for success! ______
For More on Jenn and her process, check out this month’s “Thinking Grazier.” It’s an On Pasture Open Access Article.

Be sure to sign up for the Solace Farmer Blog in the box to your right ->

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Soil Health 101: Virtual Workshop

Join NCAT Agriculture Specialists Felicia Bell and Nina Prater January 25, 2022, for a free, online introduction to soil health. What makes soil healthy or unhealthy? Why is soil health critical to long term farming success? What are some guiding principles all farmers can follow to build soil health? This virtual workshop will address those questions, and there will be a Q & A session to answer participants’ questions.

Soil Health 101: Virtual Workshop

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Safety for Sheep and Shepherd

By Linda Poole, Regenerative Grazing Specialist

When NCAT’s Livestock Team recently held a series of webinars for people considering a new livestock enterprise, many folks indicated they were thinking of getting sheep. Sounds good to me! Sheep were first domesticated 11,000 years ago, and for centuries women and children tended sheep or goats while men managed larger, potentially more dangerous stock, such as cattle and horses. Today, sheep can be handled without a lot of expensive infrastructure, and well-socialized sheep are friendly, calm, and fun to be around.

But with their small size and cute-and-fuzzy-factor, it’s easy to underestimate sheep. It’s also a fact that they can maim or kill you. This is not intended to cause you to fear sheep; it is fair warning to respect them. Safety is especially important if you’re working sheep alone, without someone to watch your back or lend a hand if things start to go sideways.

Safety with sheep is a topic better suited to books than blogs, but by paying attention to these common-sense guidelines, shepherds can work more safely:

  • Source your sheep from a reputable breeder. Those cheap sheep on Craigslist or at the auction barn might harbor health or behavior issues that you just don’t need in your life.
  • NEVER turn your back on a ram, and this goes double during breeding season. Tame rams can be the worst, going from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde in an instant when their hormones surge during breeding season. Don’t play with or pet rams. Petting a ram is like feeding a bear – neither usually ends well for the animal.
  • Ewes can thump you, too, especially when they have baby lambs. Stay attentive to the body language of sheep around you.
  • Keep your head up and eyes open when you bend or kneel to eye level with sheep. This can invite a charge, and it puts you right where a sheep can inflict maximum damage.
  • Instill respect in your sheep. I train sheep to keep at least a few feet away from me unless I invite them in closer. My tool for this is a plastic grocery bag tied to the stout handle of a 6’ long leg crook. Working the flock, I hold the stick still beside my leg until I want the sheep to move off, then I gently wiggle the bag low to the ground. If I want more energy in the sheep, I lift the stick higher and give the bag a stronger shake. If necessary, I can use the stick as a prod to repel a disrespectful sheep. To catch a sheep, I herd it into a stout fence corner, and then use the crook to carefully catch its leg without ever getting my head down where I could get rammed.
  • Always be alert, fair, and firm. Practice low-stress stockmanship. Good stockmanship is essential to safety for sheep and shepherd!
  • Many old shepherds, myself included, have bad knees and sore backs from foolishly trying to block or catch a running sheep. Use your brain, save your body: set things up to keep sheep from stampeding in the first place. And if they do, step aside and let them go. Then start over, this time keeping things calm.
  • Working yards don’t need to be large or fancy, but they must have good footing, good visibility, and sound fences in a sheep-smart layout.
  • Implement biosecurity. Some diseases are communicable between humans and sheep. Good hygiene practices reduce the risk of passing diseases between species. If you develop an unexplained malady, tell your doctor that you raise sheep.
  • What’s your emergency plan? Do you have an escape route? Got your mobile phone? Does someone know where you are, when to expect you back, and what to do if you don’t show up?
  • One of the most useful references on safety for shepherds is (ironically) the Beef Quality Assurance Handbook. For sheep-centric information, consult the guide Safe Sheep Handling.

Small ruminants are wonderful creatures and can be the basis of a rewarding, fun, and profitable business — so long as you always think of safety first.

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Roast Leg of American Lamb with Potatoes & Lemon

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb, about 5 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 pounds yukon gold potatoes, quartered
  • 2 organic lemons, cut into eighths
  • 3/4 pounds shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

DIRECTIONS

The night before cooking, use a paring knife to make 24 1-inch punctures around the leg of lamb. Rub it inside and out with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place ½ clove of garlic inside each puncture. Cover and refrigerate the leg overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 tbsp salt, oregano, rosemary, and ½ tsp black pepper.

Toss together the potatoes, lemons, shallots, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and ⅔ of the spice mixture in a large roasting pan.

Rub the leg of lamb with the remaining spice mixture, and place it on top of the veggies in the pan. Pour the vegetable stock, lemon juice, and white wine into the bottom of the pan.

Place in the oven and roast until the internal temperature of the lamb leg reaches 140 degrees F, about 90 minutes, using a metal ladle to spoon the pan juices over the vegetables every 30 minutes.

Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving + serving.

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Lamb and Chanterelle Mushroom Phyllo Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds ground American Lamb
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion 
  • ¼ cup cubed pancetta 
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ pound sliced fresh chanterelle mushrooms (or any mushrooms)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ¼ cup port, or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups broth of your choice
  • 10 phyllo pastry sheets

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350F.

 Heat a large pot over medium heat, and add the lamb. Cook, stirring, until evenly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour off some fat, if desired. Add the butter, the onion, tomato paste, pancetta, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and spices, and cook until the onions are soft, and the flavors have melded, 5 to 7 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the port, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle in the cornstarch, and pour in the broth. Stir, and simmer until thickened. Remove and discard the bay leaf, and allow it to cool slightly. Note: USDA recommends ground lamb be cooked to an internal temp of 160 degrees. 

 Brush a 9 -inch pie dish with olive oil, and layer sheets of phyllo pastry in the dish, turning it as you go, and brushing each sheet with olive oil until the phyllo has covered the entire dish. (Olive oil spray is great for this!) Pour in the lamb filling, and bring the overlap up, scrunching it around the edges. Brush the phyllo with olive oil, and bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite sides! 

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Lamb Shanks with Yogurt

INGREDIENTS

Lamb

  • 6 lamb shanks – American Lamb
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh black pepper ground
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Onion water (2 grated onions squeezed using a paper towel)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 onions cut in half
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 3 whole cardamoms
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups stock

Yogurt Sauce

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

 Garnish

  • Fresh parsley and dill
  • Pomegranate arils
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Cracked Black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl add the lamb shanks and flavoring ingredients (from the top until the olive oil only) and toss well.

 Spread the lamb in an oven safe baking dish. Add in the whole spices, cut up onions and garlic. Try to squeeze them in the dish and divide them evenly so the flavor spreads evenly as well. Pour the stock over the lamb dish and cover the plate with foil. 

 Roast the shanks until tender–this should take between 100-120 minutes (depending on the size of your lamb shanks).

 Once ready, remove the foil and if the lamb requires more browning, leave it in the oven for an extra 10 minutes. Note: USDA recommends cooking lamb to a minimum 145 degree internal temperature with a 3  minute rest.

 n the meantime, make the yogurt sauce. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until blended.

 On a serving plate, spread the sauce. Add the lamb shanks on top and garnish with your choice of garnishes. 

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HOLISITC FARMING

Looking at your farm as an interdependent entity means evaluating how each aspect, crop or product interacts with the ecosystem of your farm.  Most farmers only think about these things when it comes to growing zones and choosing plant varieties. There is so much more to this equation if your long-term goals include stewardship, sustainability, and consistent profits.

Farming is a challenge under the best of circumstances.  Weather and rising cost of inputs being only two of the variables you must accommodate to succeed.  By examining the micro-environment of your farm, you can make informed decisions about plant and animals that will not only grow and make money for you but will continue to enhance the ecosystem of your farm.

Monocropping (planting only one type of plant or raising only one type of animal) only makes your farm subject to the whims of the market and attack by pests. This type of single mindedness will need a large amount of inputs like fertilizer and pesticides to bring your ecosystem even close to being back into balance and ready to monocrop year after year.  This type of farming is not only riskier and more costly but unsustainable.

Holistic Farming works with the environment not against it. By having diversity in your crops and animals you not only work with nature to create a sustainable farm, but you create multiple income streams. Both of these factors are important in creating a sustainable farm.

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Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

-JOHN BARRYMOORE

The dream of someday living on your own farm is one shared by many.  The lure of a quieter life away from the bustle of consumer driven living is a strong one.  Being able to grow your own food and know exactly what you are eating is also a big motivator in today’s world of industrial food production. Wanting to be socially responsible by taking care of our planet is also a very powerful motivator to farm.  How to begin to make this dream a reality is often overwhelming.

Buying property, what crops to grow and what animals to raise are just a few of the questions that you need to answer for yourself. Hopefully before you begin the process of spending time, effort, and money.  Are you going to farm organically, traditionally or a combination of the two? Is your goal to be self sufficient or do you want to create an income with your farm?

Often the first discouraging advice you will here is “You can’t farm unless you inherit the operation and even then, you will never make any money at it.”   My response to this kind of helpfulness is to ignore it.  After 25 years of farming I have come to realize the value and truth found in many of the old adages so often spoken by the successful Farmers who mentored me. The above quote exemplifies some of that wisdom and encouragement.

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Understanding Soil Health. Understanding Life

November 2, 2021

Written by: Lydia Griffin

Soil is the basis of all life. In fact, without the diversity and functionality of soil, plant and animal (yes, that means you, too) life could not exist. But how is this possible? How is it that soil accepts back that which came from it century after century, while still serving as a host and origin to so many life forms? 

This introduces the concept of soil health, which the National Resource Conservation Service defines as the capability of soils to ceaselessly sustain the vitality of all players in a living ecosystem (NRCS, 2021). You see, with no soil, there is no life; and when you know soil, you know life. Whether you’re a soil scientist, farmer, gardener, or mailman (that’s right, walking on the grass decreases soil quality), we all have a role to play in maintaining soil quality. This section is about the basics of soil health. Understanding the definition of soil health is the first step needed toward learning how you can make an individual contribution. 

Other than knowing that soil sustains plant and animal life, you may want to know what the other benefits of maintaining a healthy soil are:

  • The soil acts as a filter for dirty materials and other pollutants that could harm you, me, or your dog (just in case you don’t care about you or me, I know you care about your dog). Rather than allowing potential pollutants to infiltrate into drinking water, there are physical, chemical, and biological processes that decompose the harmful chemicals. This is all happening right underneath your feet! The soil also acts as a reservoir to store the majority of our drinking water. Thanks soil!
  • The soil cycles nutrients (carbon, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, to name a few) which are taken up by plants, which are then eaten by you and me. Thanks soil, for our food! The cycling of nutrients for plants means that a healthy soil also plays a significant role in carbon capture, which is important for lessening the dangers impacts of climate change. Thanks soil!
  • The soil serves as an engineering medium by providing support for infrastructure and recreation (roads, housing, sport, etc.). The management of the soil in combination with its environment often determines its success as an engineering medium. For example, you would not build a skyscraper on slippery, unstable soil. Likewise, you would not build a road on overly dry soil, which could lead to cracks in the road. In other words, the soil is the home for your home. We now have food, shelter, and water covered, all thanks to soil!

You now know soil better, but how do we keep it, and thus ourselves, alive? Here’s how:

  • Less soil disturbance contributes to the longevity of a healthy soil. Disturbance includes tillage, compacting the soil (with vehicles or foot traffic), or using pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides that detrimentally affect soil biota. Less disturbance also allows the soil to maintain its high water-holding capacity for plants and us. 
  • Plant a diverse array of plants. Like humans, microbes need a diverse diet. Covering the soil with varying plant types, or rotating crops each year, encourages the microbes in the soil to maintain a high and consistent population. This allows soils to function at their highest efficiency.
  • Keep the soil covered. If soil is left bare, it can erode into waterways and sidewalks and become hazardous. Additionally, if soil erodes away, it is not in place to feed plants, and therefore people. Keeping the soil bare also hinders its role and ability to mitigate the effects of climate change, as there are no plants to capture carbon. You can cover the soil in ornamental plants and grasses, mulches, or tall trees that provide a canopy for the ground. 
  • Feed the soil! In other words, feed the microbes. Soil microbes contribute to many aspects of soil health. Adding organic matter like manure, old grass clippings, leaves, etc., allows for the microbes to break down the material into more soil. Over time, any soil that was or is ever lost by natural or human process can be added back this way. It takes 100-1000 years to make 1 inch of topsoil, though it takes way less time to lose it, so add amendments regularly. 

Now you have the fundamental knowledge, and hopefully care, to learn more about how to upkeep our soil. Soil is the common denominator between you and I, and has the ability to connect people, plants, microorganisms, etc., from all over the world! The soil was here long before we were. The likelihood of it sticking around for the benefit of future generations is dependent on us. When you save the soil, you save life. Check out the resources below on how to further dive into the realm of soil health. 

References:
Natural Resources Conservation Service. Soil Health | NRCS Soils. (n.d.). Retrieved October 30, 2021, from https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health

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Stewardship

Farming is more than a business; it is a lifestyle choice. It is a 365 day a year job requiring long hours filled with ever changing tasks and challenges. Successful farmers will tell you that it also takes a great deal of stubborn determination, resilience, and optimism to face the challenges and losses that are a part of the agricultural life. They will also boast that no other career will be as rewarding as taking care of the land and animals, building a life, and providing food for their community.

Farmers are stewards, they cannot succeed if they neglect the constant care of their land, crops, and animals. Many lifelong farmers will tell you “The secret is to take care of the land”.  You will often hear the word “balance” when talking to these wise people who have managed to not only endure but succeed through the hard times.

In 21st century terms they are talking about conservation, sustainability, and environmentally sound practices. 

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Interesting Tidbit on Winter Feeding…

Feeding methods cost:

A three year wintering investigation was conducted at Dickinson Research Extension Center in North Dakota to determine the effect of hay feeding methods on cow wintering cost. The average amount of hay wasted needs to be calculated when determining how much hay to provide to cows every day or when making forage purchases. A conventional method of rolling round bales out on the grounds was compared to either shredding rounds hay bales on the ground with a bale processor or feeding hay in a tapered-cone round bale feeder. The cows used in the study were in the third trimester of pregnancy and were fed for an average of 59 days during the test period. This study compared cow wintering performance, hay consumption necessary to maintain cow body condition, labor inputs, wintering cost, and hay waste, when hay was either rolled out on the ground, shredded with a bale processor on the ground, or fed in a tapered-cone round bale feeder.

Cow growth, body condition, hay intake, fat depth, and waste data were collected for three years. Cows were weighed, visually condition scored, and measured for rib fat depth using real-time ultrasound at the beginning, middle, and end of the 59-day study between the 12th and 13th rib. Hay waste was estimated manually and with GPS special mapping. Cows were fed to maintain or improve their starting body condition prior to calving.

Cows fed using the conventional method in which bales are rolled out on the ground gained less than when cows were fed with either the bale processor or tapered-cone feeder. Starting, ending and condition score change differed between years, but there were no differences due to method of feeding hay. During the first two years of the study, cows fed using the tapered-cone feeder had greater rib fat depth increase than either the roll out or bale processor methods. There was no difference among feeding methods in the third year. Hay intake to maintain body condition was greatest for the cows fed with the bale processor and lowest for the tapered-cone bale feeder. On average, when compared to the tapered-cone feeder, 5.0 and 15.3% more hay was fed per cow using the roll out and bale processor methods, respectively.

Waste contributed to the increased amount of hay required among the roll out and bale processor cow groups to maintain body condition and subsequent production. This study indicates that if you are feeding hay on the ground, add at least 15 percent to the total amount fed or purchased to compensate for waste. For example, if you normally feed 28-30 lbs per head per day, increase that amount to 33-35 pounds of hay to ensure that adequate nutrition is provided to the cow on a daily basis. If you are feeding on mud, then doubling the amount will help compensate for waste. When calculating the amount of hay needed to feed the cow herd during the winter, remember to compensate for waste.

Source: Landblom, D.G., G.P. Lardy, R. Fast, D.J. Wachenheim, and T.A. Petry. 2006. Effect of hay feeding methods on cow performance, hay waste and wintering cost. Dickinson Research Extension Center North Dakota State University 2006 Annual Report.

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When Is It Safe To Graze Alfalfa Fields?

Grazing alfalfa in the late fall can be a great economical feed source. However, with these warmer fall temperatures (or lack of hard frosts) and high cattle and lamb prices can create a situation where bloat could be very costly. There are no “for sure” rules to determine when alfalfa is “safe” to graze, however below are some things produces should consider when turning out on alfalfa fields: 

1. Use caution when alfalfa plants are just beginning to show frost damage, this is when alfalfa grazing can be the most dangerous for bloats. Hard frost/freeze ruptures alfalfa cell wells, resulting in more soluble protein being immediately available for consumption by the animal. The increase in the soluble protein increases the rate of rumen fermentation, thus increasing the risk of bloat. Alfalfa generally becomes “safer” to graze after several consecutive frost in the 20’s that cause visible plant damage and drydown. 

2. Fill calves or lambs up with good quality hay prior to moving onto alfalfa fields. Not only will this help reduce animals from gorging themselves, but is also important to allow the ruminal microbial population to adapt to higher quality feeds. This is especially important if animals are coming off low quality forage (corn stalks, dry grass/range pastures). Animals should be turned out in the late morning or early afternoon, rather than early morning.  

3. Provide bloat blocks or bloat preventing additives in the water for several days before and after the start of grazing alfalfa fields. Monitor cattle several times per day when animals are turned into a new pasture.

Submitted by Sarah M. Smith

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Cheese Adventures

The Aged Cheese Journey …

What do you do when you have a lovely Jersey Milk Cow who gives you 3 gallons of creamy milk every time she is milked?  When we were younger and had 4 growing children I was lucky to have extra milk to make ice cream. As the years passed we added Nubian Milk goats to the farm so I could make soft cheeses (which in this house is a staple) like Feta and Paneer.  Now that we have we have grandchildren (not yet teenagers) I am finally getting to experiment with making Aged Cheese.

The process is pretty straight forward as long as you are precise in following a recipe. The hardest part for me is having the patience to age the cheese. My favorite beginner cheese making book is “A Cheese Maker’s Journey” by Mary Jane Toth.

The difficult part for me has been accumulating the equipment including a Cheese Press and weights. As you can see in the pictures I am using the grain weights from my antique grain scale. I have since found and ordered a nice 10 lb weight from www. Sausage Maker.com but until it arrives these old iron weights are working just fine.

Any advice from you more experienced cheese makers is much appreciated.

Now the adventure begins as we move up from Cheddar to Stilton….I will keep you advised on the journey. 

  • Jersey Cow
  • Cheddar pre waxed
  • Cheese WAX
  • Cheese Press

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Mindful Living on the Farm

I bought John Seymour’s “Self Sufficient Life and how to live it”. I have been wanting it for years and finally bought it for our Farm Library. I have only gotten to page 23 and already have learned much. Seymour states “There should be no need for a garbage man on the self-sufficient farm.” I have for years fed or composted everything I could but this simple statement made me evaluate what else I could recycle to benefit my farm (without becoming a Hoarder of Junk). We only make “dump runs” once every eight weeks but I think fully 20% of that load would easily be burnable in my stove in the garage or compostable as well. I have lamented that I never have enough ash for the garden….yet I have been happily paying to let the county burn it. Do you ever have those “Duh” moments? Living simply really means Living Mindfully. Sometimes I just go into auto pilot until something triggers the ‘change your perspective’ button.

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Dreaming of Farming?

How much land do you need? How many and what kind of animals? Start where you are and take small steps toward your goals…you will get there. The important thing is to start.

For years we talked of farming, being self-sufficient and someday; then one day we realized that was what we had been doing all along. You don’t need a large homestead to farm – hundreds of acres and just as many animals. All you need is to make the most of what you do have. If you are a good steward of what you have it will grow and before you know it you will be asking yourself if you want to take on more or be content with what you are busy doing now.

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Welcome to Solace Farm

I am blessed to be a farmer and a shepherdess who shares my life with three generations here in the Pacific Northwest.  My days are filled with caring for my family, land and animals. Over the years I have been mentored by many knowledgeable and creative individuals and feel it is only right that I share the wisdom and skills that my life has grown around. 

My goal is to pass along my experiences in the hopes of brightening your day, encouraging your creativity, and possibly saving the lost arts of living a self-sufficient life in harmony with our world. 

I will cover many topics including Farming, Cooking, Gardening and the Fiber Arts to name a just a few. 

The products of our farm will be listed in our Farm Store and I hope to eventually to be able to put together some tutorials. 

Thank you for stopping by and spending a moment or two with me.

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Selenium and Lamb Growth

Increased Selenium Dosage Boosts Growth and Immunity in Lambs

In a new study published in the Journal of Animal Science, Oregon State University (OSU) researchers show that maximum selenium levels permitted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be too low for sheep to reach optimum growth and health.

Selenium is essential for cellular function in animals and aids development. Large selenium doses can be toxic, but too-low levels can impair growth and compromise the immune system.

“When sheep don’t grow to their potential or have weak immune systems, it can be a sign of insufficient selenium,” said Gerd Bobe, co-author of the study and an OSU professor. “Our research shows higher levels of selenium can result in healthier animals that grow bigger and that can improve returns at the marketplace for farmers and ranchers.”

A challenge is that the range between selenium deficiency and selenium toxicity can be narrow; current FDA regulations limit the amount of dietary selenium supplementation for animals grazing on selenium-scare soils to 0.7 mg per sheep per day or 3 mg per beef cattle per day.

In OSU’s experiments, pregnant ewes were given selenium doses up to five-times higher than the FDA’s allowed level – an amount of supplementation researchers determined to be not harmful to sheep. The element is carried into the bodies of offspring, helping young animals during development.

At the highest selenium doses, ewes gave birth to lambs that grew to be 4.3-pounds heavier than average after 60 days. Furthermore, survival was 15-percent higher in lambs receiving the highest amount of organic selenium supplementation. As farmers look to sell sheep at five to six months old, weight and health metrics are keys to profitability.

A new generation of OSU research is attempting to determine how much selenium and in what form is best for optimal growth and health of sheep and cattle.

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Feedstuffs Slide Show

Ever wander what type of hay to feed and what other feedstuffs you can use to supplement the forage you have?

This Slide Show by Jeff Semler of University of Maryland small ruminant program gives a general over view of commonly available feedstuffs for your sheep, goats and cattle. Click on the Link below to access the slide presentation.

                                                            Feedstuffs

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Finnsheep for the Farmstead

– Finnsheep mature earlier than most other breeds

– Finnsheep ewes naturally cycle out of season

– Finnsheep ewes naturally produce larger litters (2-3/litter) than competitive breeds

without flushing for increased ovulation rates.

– Quality Finnsheep possess better wool traits than other breeds known for high

reproductive abilities allowing farmers to shear a premium, saleable wool clip.

– The single coated Finnsheep fleece possesses better crimp, luster and handle than all

other short-tailed breeds, allowing a much more diverse use of the wool by a larger

variety of markets.

– The docile, friendly temperament of the Finnsheep makes them one of the easiest

sheep breeds to safely work with (children, adults and seniors).

– The Finnsheep is a polled breed, providing additional safety for handlers, preventing

the sheep from getting their horns stuck in fencing and eliminating the risk of

infections or infestations of the horn.

– The naturally short tails of the Finnsheep require no docking

– The Finnsheep crosses well with most other breeds, improving wool, temperament

and production traits in the cross-bred flock

– Scrapie resistant genetics are available within the Finnsheep breed.

– Finnsheep ewes possess excellent mothering abilities

– Finnsheep ewes receiving proper nutrition produce an abundant supply of milk for

typical Finnsheep litters (2-3 lambs/litter).

– Finnsheep meats are leaner as Finnsheep deposit fat around their organs, not

throughout their muscle tissue, providing a healthier meat for the consumer.

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Lambing Tipi

We have these in our lambing jugs during January and February lambing:

Even on the coldest night it can be up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in these with two or three lambs snuggled up tight.

Materials List

*I sheet of 3/8 or ½ inch plywood

* 4 8 foot long 2×2

*75 1 ½ inch deck screws

* 2 lightweight 1 ½ inch hinges with screws

* 10 3 to 4 inch deck screws

Assembly

Always remember to put the screws in from the plywood side through to the 2×2 framing.

1. Measure the long sides of the two triangles and cut 4 pieces of 2×2 to fit that length. Screw the 2×2 in place flush with the edges of the plywood pieces.

2. Measure the length between these 2x2s along the bottom and top edge of the plywood. Cut 2×2 to fit those spaces and screw into place.

3. Place the “front sections” on the floor right side up and attach the access door at the center seam with the two hinges.

4. Hold the solid back section and the two sides sections up in place and measure the distance between the framing at the top and again at the bottom. Cut 2 pieces of 2×2 to fit each space. Center one piece that you just cut at the top and another at the bottom back and secure the extra set to your front section.

5. Secure the “Back” wall to the side walls by screwing plywood to the framing of the side walls. At this point you have a 32 sided structure. Place the front section in place and screw to the framing as you did the back. Take one long deck screw and screw into the framing at top and bottom at each joint. Your Lamb Tipi is complete.

6. You can place a safety heat lamb on the top of the tipi to provide extra warmth on those cold winters, early spring nights.  

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Encouragement is Essential

I am passionate about Farming and often feel I should spend less time talking and writing about it .

Summer Chores

I have to remind myself why I go beyond living the farm life to sharing it. The following is a note I recieved:

” You were one of the people who helped me keep pushing the first time. When you told me that it takes at least 5 years to feel like you have something started. And you were right!

Unfortunately I lost most of what we had built but, God is so good and we have a second opportunity to do it again and better with more knowledge, wisdom and much better teamwork!

I keep hearing your words, 5 years, just keep going! ❤️

Thank you for your words of encouragement” -Rebecca Cummins

I love to hear of your challenges and successes!

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