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08/18/09

Permalink 05:54:44 pm, by Karen Email , 74 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Clearing for pasture, part 3

Just wanted to post the "before" picture from the "Clearing for pasture" entry, and a current picture, taken today. They were taken from roughly the same spot. The lighting is different, but you can see how much things have been opened up. Oh, and you can see the new roadbed is in on the right-of-way. It curves around to the right to go down to where the other property owner has his log yard.

08/13/09

Permalink 12:22:59 pm, by Karen Email , 353 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Clearing for pasture, part 2

Another log truck with a full load of pine logs is just leaving as I type this. The work has been going on now for a couple weeks, and even with some delays for rain, the progress is impressive. There is only one guy working, with a chainsaw and a skidder, and by the end of the first day he had a good sized yard cleared. He's cleared most if not all of the pine that was good for logs out of the areas closest to the house, and for the last couple days has been working farther back to get the pine out from those areas. What's left near the house is pine and hardwood for pulp which he'll be taking down soon.

It is of course pretty messy looking. But there's really no way around that. The rain we had all summer did not help because it left the ground saturated, and even with the recent drier weather it's still pretty muddy.

Besides our logging operation, the man who owns the property behind us is having some hemlock logged out. He has a right-of-way that crosses our land, and in order to make it accessible for his log trucks, he is going to have the top layer of loam scraped off and replaced with gravel. His ROW takes a sharp turn so they will need to create a good base with a large enough turning radius for the trucks to maneuver. His logger has been working just past the property line to create a log yard and they are now getting to the point where they will be ready to improve the ROW road. They brought in a huge excavator this morning to stump the yard. I'm not sure when they will start scraping down the loam although it should be fairly soon.

So, at one point this morning there was an excavator, a skidder, a log truck, and a logger with a chainsaw, all working at the same time. I wonder what the neighbors are thinking?

Here are a couple photos of the log truck and driver operating the grapple.

07/28/09

Permalink 04:36:07 pm, by Karen Email , 325 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

Clearing for pasture

We finally contacted a forester about getting our land logged and cleared so we can have our own pasture, instead of having to borrow it (we've been grateful to be able to do so, but we really want to have our sheep here, and not somewhere else!). Everything came together fairly quickly. We had the forester come out a few weeks ago and go over the property with us. He explained the process, gave us an idea of what we might expect to get for the logs and pulpwood, and we talked over a couple options, one of which seemed more likely. We called him back last week and said we were ready to start any time. He brought over the paperwork for us to sign (contract, permit for the Town, etc.) and said they had a crew that had just finished a job, and could probably start right away, as long as the weather cooperated.

Of course, we had a few days of rain, but this morning at 5:53 the dog started barking and I got up to see the skidder being unloaded. I wanted to take some "before" pictures, but I had a lot to do this morning and didn't get around to it until after lunch. So, this is the pseudo before picture. It still gives a pretty good idea of what the property looks like with all the trees. That's the logger's truck in the middle of the photo.

I then walked up in front of the truck and took this photo:

It's not going to be a clearcut when it's done. There are a lot of little trees that aren't worth anything for logs or pulp, and there are several acres that we are just taking the pine out of, and leaving all the hardwood so we can manage that area for firewood. But the acreage closest to the house will eventually all be fields. At least, that is the plan!

07/26/09

Permalink 09:03:43 pm, by Karen Email , 489 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

New hay feeder

We built a new hay feeder this past week. The goal was to build something that was easy to fill, but that the sheep could not climb into, and that would not waste too much hay.

We have two other hay feeders. The first one is based on a design that has a grate that slides up and down. You raise the grate, put the hay in the feeder, and lower the grate. The sheep pull the hay through the gate to eat it. This works fine, until someone decides that it would be more fun to actually climb in and stand in the middle of the feeder and eat it that way. Of course, hay goes in one end, and we all know what comes out the other. This results in soiled hay that no sheep wants to eat, and it's not fun to have to clean it out every single day. It needs to have a bar fastened across each side so that the sheep have to put their heads underneath the bar to eat, but are then discouraged from climbing in. We did have these installed, but over the winter the rams broke them off with their big horns.

The second one was a quick-n-dirty feeder that was built so that our house-sitter could just throw hay over the fence into it, without having to go in with the sheep. A frame was built out of rough lumber, and two galvanized tubs were bolted onto it. The frame keeps the tubs from being overturned or pushed around the paddock. The problem with this feeder is that in the process of eating the sheep drag the hay out of the tubs and spread it on the ground, and again, end up wasting a lot. And after a year or so of use, the sheep managed to break one of the tubs right off the frame.

We still like the first feeder, but we wanted something easier to fill, and something that the sheep definitely could not get into. I went searching the net and found some pictures of a feeder that I thought would work. And here it is:

This combines the best of both worlds. It keeps the hay clean and dry, reduces waste, and it can be filled from outside the fence, which makes it super easy. It's built with a combination of pressure treated and regular two-by-fours and plywood, and the roof is salvaged metal roofing we found on Freecyle. The grate pieces form a "V" and the sheep can eat from either side.

We'll still use the first feeder (with bars installed) but will take apart the tub feeder and recycle the lumber somewhere else on the farm.

I'm happy to report that the new feeder got a good test of its weather resistance today. We had a major T-storm and downpours that lasted about an hour, and the hay remained totally dry.

07/04/09

Permalink 06:42:25 pm, by Karen Email , 136 words   English (US)
Categories: Journal

No Farms No Food

"Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own." -- Samuel Johnson, English writer (born September 18, 1709)

Did you know that America loses 1.2 MILLION acres of farmland each year? According to American Farmland Trust, most of this is the best and most productive farmland we have. Where we used to live in Niagara County, in NY, we would see this happening acre by acre, as the edges of farm fields were sold off where they fronted on a road, and houses were built as the lots sold. But, it's been going on for years, all over the country.

If you would like to learn more, please visit AFT at the link above. You can also see "7 Ways to Save Farmland", here: http://www.farmland.org/actioncenter/no-farms-no-food/7-ways-to-save-farmland.asp

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Sharing ideas from our small farm in NH, where we raise Icelandic sheep and assorted poultry. We are members of ISBONA (Icelandic Sheep Breeders of North America) and the CLRC (Canadian Livestock Records Corporation). We also participate in the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program (NH54). Contact us at karen [at] birchtreefarm [dot] com. Please also visit the farm website at Birchtree Farm.
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