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Maria Brown

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since Aug 27, 2015
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Recent posts by Maria Brown

Here in the high mountains in Colorado, I've been using a hoop shelter for summer grazing months for my Icelandic sheep for several years. Two cattle panel pieces wired together w/ poly tarp. I have to drag it out to the new pasture each time I move the flock; drive in 4 corner T-posts and some metal rebar stakes placed along each side to keep it all up. The tarp was a heavy duty hay tarp and lasted 3 summers. It's heavy and has been a beast to drag around through grassy pasture (my morgan mare does the hauling), though the setting-up only takes me about 15 mins each move.

But...the tarp is decrepit now and the cattle panels got very bent during a heavy, early fall storm last Oct. Andm given my penchant to use more natural/biodegradable materials, my thoughts are turning toward the idea of a canvas tent instead with semi-permanent aspen frames set up in the 4 places I have been placing the portable shelter through the summer season. Kind of along the lines of the "Glamping Tents" that are being used for human guest businesses in wilderness settings.

I am planning to buy raw canvas, sew the tent and wax or oil it. Just trying to work out the design details of constructing the aspen frames (sturdy enough but also movable if I want to place them differently and avoid repeated pressure of the sheep on the same ground too many times/too long of times so their presence doesn't destroy the forage underneath the shelters. Would be nice if they could be skidded along by horse power.

Here in our forest in the Colorado mountains, rose hips are plentiful in the fall...big red ones everywhere. When I trail ride in their season, I gather them in my saddle bags and sometimes have a couple gallons to dry whole and store for winter.

I use them for our meals when fresh (cut up with other fruit in oatmeal or added to pancake syrup, pies, jams, yoghurt. And then, in winter when all we have is the dried hips, I grind them up in a little coffee grinder and use the powder to sprinkle on foods.

And I give them whole to my sheep and goats as occasional treats. They beg for them.

Some varieties of conifer needles can be an abortifacient. Use them with caution and sufficient research.

2 months ago

Alder Burns wrote:The ram lamb eventually did get aggressive once he was mature enough to breed.  Finally I penned him separately and feed him hay, silage, weeds, and coppice. But before I was able to set up a pen I found by trial and error that a squirt bottle filled with urine, beefed up with a dash of ammonia, would make him keep his distance for hours at a time.  The nasty sludge that drains from the bottom of my black soldier fly bin, flung in his face, would work even better....

IMHO, this is not a ram to keep nor to breed from.
I've enjoyed our Icelandic sheep immensely over the last 5 years. I am a rug weaver and I tried out many other types of wool for my work pretty thoroughly for years before deciding on Icelandics as being what I liked to work with best.

I invested in good breedstock so that selling lambs to breeders would be a possibility. I have to use portable fencing, as my perimeter fence is just 3-strand barbed wire and the sheep go right through it. But I have not had losses to predators, even though our "neighborhood" in the forest here in Colorado has healthy populations of bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions and bears.

Between breedstock sales, the abundant fleece (for my own work and to sell raw to hand spinners), the very mild meat and now, just this year, beginning to use their milk in the summer time to make easy, soft cheeses (which I then freeze for winter use), I am managing to cover hay costs plus a little extra...and we have grass-fed meat and milk that we enjoy much more than what we could buy.

My nephew, who also now has a small Icelandic flock, recently told me he is divesting himself of his cows, as he enjoys working with the sheep more and their family likes the meat better than beef.
The vitamin C content varies according to the process used to preserve rose hips...with drying in a cool, shady spot or freezing (after blanching) being better for saving it than canning.

As for separating the seeds and pulp :

*Simmer the "hip stew" and the skins will burst and pulp will rise to the top and can be skimmed off. Chickens and goats love this.
*Strain the rest through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove the seeds.
*Dry them and grind them. Then moisten the "flour" with water and reboil to extract the vitamin E.
*You can use this water for various purposes for its nourishing liquid.
2 years ago
A few things that have helped my lifelong insomnia:

Attention to thyroid issues from a naturopath (who treated me when my family practitioner didn't think it was a problem)
Kelp for trace minerals
Avoidance of dairy products and any caffeine after noon

A couple products that I keep on hand, just in case I can't sleep after an hour of trying:

Rescue Remedy Sleep (homeopathic)...mild
Tranquil Sleep (melatonin, L-theanine, tryptophan)...this comes in a chewable/breakable tablet so I can adjust the dosage easily. Totally effective and yet gentle.
2 years ago
Porcupines *do* have a natural predator in the fisher, which possesses an enzyme in its system that dissolves quills. Truebeans. Unfortunately, like so many other US species with a beautiful winter coat, they have been decimated in many or most areas.

Our homestead is in the high, remote area of Western Colorado and we have plenty of the quilled rodents. But they give us relatively little trouble. There is, however, vast habitat open to them surrounding our inholding within National Forest lands.  

A good, sensible dog is a must in areas with high porcupine populations. They discourage them from coming in close enough to expose our farm animals. Our experience has been that a young or clueless dog will get too close only once, never again. When this has happened, 2 or 3 times over 30+ years, we've been able to remove quills ourselves and have had no eye or other permanent injuries. This year, two young Morgans had a "quilling"...but again, we were able to remove the quills alright ourselves.

2 years ago
A good lab for liver analysis is Michigan State Univ's diagnostics:

They require only a small piece of the liver, not the whole thing (size of a walnut is fine) and it does not have to be overnighted. Around $30 fee, as I remember.

I send the sample in a small, tight-lidded, labeled container (like an empty vitamin bottle), along with a frozen ice pack and ship via Priority Mail. They will email the results within a few days.

From an old-timer who was telling me about root cellars:

The air environment of a root cellar is not supposed to be humid, not built in damp soil. And a "dry air" home is not what mice and other rodents are fond of. They prefer moister places.

He was speaking of the Colorado Mountain (heavy snow) and also NM arid climates. I do not know if he had experience with root cellars in any other areas and imagine there is not such a thing as dry earth in some places! Just passing along what he had reported about those in the West he had seen/used.

A thought about something to use instead of pond liner is to oil a piece of heavy canvas or even a more tightly woven cotton fabric to make it impervious to moisture. Animal or vegetable fats can be used for the oiling. We had an old camp tent that was made of a heavy oiled fabric and it was pretty durable for many, many years.

2 years ago
Grungy raw fleece is wonderful for adding to dirt road surfacing. Helps create a more stable base. We add a layer to our muddy farm road in the spring time.