These past two weeks have been busy at the Cooks Mill Learning Center. We have had visits from our veterinarian, farrier and the sheep shearer and have been prepping our fields for the growing season. The weather has been a Pure Michigan experience, sunny and almost in the 60’s to rainy and cool and then this weekend we have snow and high winds. We farm in all weather and make the best of it.
Our horses had a big week. Our veterinarian came for a visit and floated their teeth (horsey teeth brushing). Our farrier gave each of them a pedicure (trimmed their hooves) and our interns have been giving Tom and Prince a workout using them to harrow our pastures. Below, Flint and Prince, two of our happy horses!
With a forecast predicting rain all day on Thursday, we decided Wednesday afternoon, to herd our flock of sheep into their barn to keep them dry for their “haircut” the next day. Our sheep shearer, Sy Caryl and his apprentice Patrick joined us Thursday morning to shear our flock of 42 ewes, 2 Merino rams and our 2 Angora goats. Our flock of ewes is comprised of both Tunis and Merino. We had good system arranged for the shearer in which we had 2 people driving our truck and trailer bringing more sheep to the workshop where we had a corral set up. We had 2 more people in the corral to guide sheep down a chute that lead to our shearer. Once naked (sheared), our sheep were passed to 2 more people who administered their annual vaccinations. After all their pampering, the sheep where finally sent outside to join their herd mates, though they could barely recognize each other with all their wool missing and clean white fleeces! Sy Caryl is an excellent shearer and we all worked efficiently together. Despite the rainy weather, we were able to get all of our sheep sheared and vaccinated within 4.5 hours. We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up the workshop where the shearing occurred and bagging and weighing the mountain of wool fleeces. For those of you reading this who would like to work with or wear some of our wool, we have a good amount of naturally dyed yarn, worsted wool, and merino wool socks available for sale in our office at the Cooks Mill Learning Center here in Scotts, MI. Below is a picture of the mountain of wool and a link to a video of the shearing experience that we have posted on our Facebook page. Check it out!
Our interns and volunteers have been busy working between raindrops to prep our fields for planting and pasture. Lauren and Ivy had our Belgian draft team Tom and Prince out several times these past two weeks using the spike-tooth harrow to distribute the cattle manure and dead grass in the pasture fields. We should be seeing more of those sweet spring grasses poking through and our pastures getting greener! Ian and Anna have been using Castor and Pollux, one of our ox draft teams, to spread manure and compost in our hay and crop fields. We are also thankful for our volunteers Mara, and Ward for their assistance in the glamorous job of manure spreading! We are hoping for drier weather on the farm so we can get serious about plowing our fields. We have a young ox team, Buck and Charlie who will both be turning two in July. The interns have been doing their part in getting them out regularly for some training and practice. This week they were tasked with towing a stone boat loaded with a few straw bales (weight training). Once the straw bales were delivered to their destination, the interns became the “weight” and went “ox sledding” around the farm riding on the stone boat. Below, Tom and Prince with the spike- tooth harrow, Castor and Pollux with the manure spreader, a view of Buck and Charlie from ox sledding on the stone boat.
This week will be busy as we are hosting our Draft Horse Basics class and Hard Cheese making class. Thanks for following along in our 2016 growing season we look forward to keeping you updated in the goings-on here at the Cooks Mill Learning Center. We encourage you to come visit us and stay tuned.