Sunday, May 19, 2013

New mowing machinery-

The horses here are now an established part of the operation.  They do tremendous - skilled - mowing, pruning, and brush clearing for us; in both the hazels and chestnuts.  They're almost the only reason we CAN harvest chestnuts these days; if we had to mow and clear by machine and hand, we'd never get it done.  Seriously; we've tried.  Yes, you have to manage moveable fence; get them water, and manage them off season- but the work is considerably less than the money and time needed to use machines.

Plus; horses reproduce; tractors don't.  That was one of the original arguments back when tractors were replacing horses as primary tillage technology- but it was pushed off by- cheap fossil fuels, subsidizing manufacture and the entire system.  Yes, yes, fracking has solved our peak oil problems- until, of course, it doesn't.  Meantime- there is a human and natural benefit to the horses.  Tractors, with very few exceptions, do not totter up to you and nuzzle your hands, as they find their way into the world.

We're having a naming contest for this little pinto filly- running it over on the Badgersett Hazel Maze Facebook page.  Prize is a Badgersett T-shirt, and an hour with Meg and the filly, for getting acquainted.  More photos there.  Sasha, the mare, had just refused to take a couple anise flavored "horse treats" from my hand; she was totally uninterested in them.  That was a first for her!  She'll normally chase me the length of the paddock if she thinks there's any chance of cadging one or two.  Seems to have been an easy birth for her- didn't seem tired; but the only thing she was interested in was- the filly. As you can tell in the photos, she let all the humans come right up, handle her, and handle the foal.  But- Anastasia, our pony mule- was a different story- Sasha laid ears back and chased her off instantly, if she approached at all.

The horses have also been used very successfully in the hazels.  They do NOT "browse" the hazels; they won't touch the leaves or the nuts or twigs...  under any normal circumstances.   This winter- we did prove that when a paddock is completely depleted of all other food- they will eat hazel twigs.  But they've got to be really, really hungry before they do.  The reason we learned that?  Climate change- the extraordinarily late spring meant- we ran out of grass.  It's growing like mad now, making up for lost time; and the horses, and sheep, are getting fat quickly.

Incidentally - we're offering our pony mule Anastasia for sale now.  She was originally acquired as a guard animal for the sheep; but that hasn't worked out. Ana just refuses to stay with the sheep, and will come out of the electro-mesh sheep paddock within a day or so of setting up a new paddock.  She doesn't run away- she just wants to be with horses; not sheep.

You can see her size here- and her great friendliness.  She's really a wonderful animal- we're only offering to sell her because she deserves more time and attention than we can give her.  She's 4 years old (I think; maybe 5?) extremely smart, and very, very willing to please you.  She's also a mule; not a horse- and needs proper training to become either a riding animal for children or a working pack animal.  We'd love to use her for nut harvest hauling- but just don't have the time to train her.  Mules come with a variety of inborn dispositions- hers is simply - sweet and willing.  Downright cuddly, in fact- as soon as she knows that, this time, I'm not going to grab her halter and ask her to do something confusing - like go back to the sheep - she behaves like a puppy starved for affection.  She likes to pick my back pocket, if she can get away with- I'm sure she's laughing about it.

She's about halfway through shedding her winter coat- in midwinter, she looks like a fat teddy bear; in summer the fur is gone.

Send us an email if you're interested- .  We're asking $400.00.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Plant Shipping Delayed...

With all the cold, cloudy weather this spring (feel free to do a search on "record May snowfall in Minnesota"), the plant growth in our solar-heated greenhouses was very slow during April, and part of March and May.  The little tubelings are picking up the pace now, but we probably won't start shipping tubelings until the week of May 29; about two weeks late. They're just not quite ready for the hardening process we put them through to get them tough and ready for your field planting.
This is one of the results of our commitment to sustainable production– we do depend on current sunlight for our heat and power, and sometimes that does slow things down. Thank you for being a part of this nature-connected enterprise!