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IPM and Rotational Grazing

Over the last 2 years we have been growing our family of animals through rescue and adoption. We started with an errant transgender rooster named Zuess who got lonely so now he has a flock of girls to protect plus one boy duck who follows the hens around, I was able to rescue a bonded halflinger and burro pair (Lewis and Clark) from a kill pen out west. And over the past year have been adding to our sheep flock They were all slated for slaughter so we are thrilled they are now on our farm to add to our diverse and very friendly furry and feathered friends.

They will be helping to heal our farm through added fertilizer, keeping the grass clipped and keeping invasives in check.

One of the goals of my farm is to incorporate animals and to that aim I have been incorporating rescue animals that will find their forever home on my farm. But they also have a purpose and give back so much to me and to the people who visit.  Here are the stories for each as much as I know their back stories as well as their future story.

Lewis the burro and Clark my Halflinger pony came to my farm together as a bonded pair from a kill pen out west.  They were rescued by a gentleman from Iowa and brought to Wisconsin through Evanescent mustang rescue who made them available for adoption.  Originally I was looking for a carriage horse and when I went to adopt Clark I was told I had to adopt Lewis the Burro with Clark.  I initially wanted to move them to my home in Emerald grove but the township wouldn’t give me a conditional use permit so I initially boarded them with a friend until I bought the farm in Janesville which will be their forever home.

Lewis originally came from BLM land out west.  He has a US brand that tells from where but I would need to shave his neck to read it and so I probably won’t know the exact location where he was from because now that he is here its really not that important to me to know his exact origins. 

Lewis is such a lover burro, he comes up to everyone and if you are patient he will rest his head on your shoulder and lean on you to get scratches.  In true donkey form if you try to lead him anywhere he will put the breaks on all four hooves and you won’t budge him so, I just turn my back on him and walk away and he will follow me like a puppy.  He loves people and looks for treats.  He also helps protect my sheep from predators and keeps an eye on my chicken coop. 

Clark is a Halflinger pony.  He was a 1.5 year old colt when he ended up at the kill pen.  When he came he was a mess (often the case with rescues).  He hadn’t been castrated yet and his hooves had 4 broken bars.  If you think about having to walk on 4 ingrown toe nails you can imagine the pain he was in.  It took some time but the Farrier was able to get his hooves in shape and The vet filed and removed his milk teeth and castrated him.  And now he is a much happier and healthier horse.  We just started his training to get him ready to be a wonderful addition to our working farm.  Halflingers make great work horses they are gentle and very trainable.  The Amish often use them for their plowing and farm work.  So I am hoping that with time Clark will be trained to drive my syrup wagon, give cart rides around the farm and maybe even take him off the farm to do carriage drives. 

Oh, my! The sheep I have gotten. 

My first foray into sheep ownership was definitely interesting.  I had contacted a breeder in Minnesota to get 2 pygora goats for the farm for fiber and some shrub control.  Well, there was a 2 year wait list.  But she said she had these four wethered Shetland sheep her daughter had bottle raised and she needed to get rid off them to make room for the next generation so would I be interested.  Well, what the heck sounded like they would be a good fit for the farm (they are a heritage breed) so I went to pick them up and put them in the back of my pickup truck and brought them to the farm.  Well after one week of chasing them all over the neighborhood and neighbors leaving me messages saying they had my sheep.  I realized that Shetland sheep are one step removed from the escape artists that goats are purported to being.  So after one week we changed their names to the Mo, Larry, Curly and Shemp.  They are definitely sweet little boys and will follow me anywhere for grain. 

I so loved my shetlands that when I visited a glamping farm in Blanchardville (circle M Farm) and saw her herd of sheep I started talking to the owner about her sheep.  She mentioned that in about a month they would be culling their yearlings.  So the day before the slaughter I went back to the farm and although I would have loved to take them all I just don’t have the room so I told her I wanted girls, white fiber, no horns and friendly dispositions.  I ended up with 4 Finn-Dorset x Rambouillet crosses.  I call them my golden girls,  Sophia, Rose, Blanch and Dorthea.  But there was one other sheep that also spoke to my heart.  She was already a rescue from another farm and although she was older and a grey straight fiber sheep (I believe she’s an icelandic) I couldn’t get her out of my mind so I called after I got home and she and her little black lamb are my final addition to the flock.  Their names are Granny and Ellie May Clampet. 

So another reason I ended up buying my farm is my transgender Rooster Zuess (he was purchased as a pullet).  Last year my flock of 9 hens were killed by a weasel.  It was an awful morning for both Zuess and I.  There he was amidst the carnage and we were both pretty devastated.  So the following spring “we” went to farm and fleet and got a bunch of little chicks.  Well about 30 to be exact although some of the Buff Orpingtons went to round out a friends flock.  So Zuess has 24 hens and Daffy duck to keep him company. They seem to be happy in their new 10 cent box truck that I hope will be an impenetrable fortress.