Self-refueling Brush Cutters

One of the most frustrating things for me is getting some open land cleared enough for me to do things on it. We cut down the trees, the stumps are left. We have lots and lots of land with huge stumps all through it. Plus, we live in the granite state, and they weren’t kidding when they named it that. We have boulders everywhere. The stonewalls that snake through our land are from previous owners who tried to farm here.

Frank got a brush-cutter for his tractor, but our hills are too steep, too rocky, too stumpy for it to work well. So before you know it, the land we cleared two years ago if filled with brush again. It gets so frustrating. I often feel like I’ll never have enough land for a proper vegetable garden, for an orchard, for blackberries and blueberries.

So we heard from lots of people that we should consider goats. Except goats are notoriously difficult to contain, and we just don’t need the hassle. Frank started researching sheep, looking for primitive breeds who don’t need to live in a barn in the winter and who eat brush. The two breeds that stood out were Icelandic sheep and Shetland sheep.

Our requirements are pretty stiff.

  • We want sheep who don’t need grass and pasture, because we have none. We want them to make it for us by eating the trees and weeds, so we can then plant other things.
  • We want sheep who can handle 30 degrees below zero in a three-sided shelter. We don’t have a barn. We won’t have a barn for a few years, at least. They have to be tough, hardy critters.
  • We want valuable fleece. Domestic wool is too inexpensive, so we want fleece that gets a higher price.
  • I’d like to be able to milk them. I don’t particularly like goat’s milk, but the sheep’s milk cheeses that I’ve tried are delicious. (someday I also want a cow, but not until we get pasture.)

120_2008_JFR.jpgSo with all those requirements, we settled on Icelandics, mostly because Frank found a listing where someone was selling three registered sheep (a ram and two ewes) for dirt cheap, as her husband had died and she couldn’t keep up with all these sheep. So we went for a look, and guess what. We not only bought those three sheep, but for $1500, we got the herd.

120_2007_JFR.jpgSo – we have Sue, the ram. Our two mamas are Fiona and Kaytla. We have five lambs, one that is Kaytla’s and the other four are Fiona’s.

I can hardly believe it, but we have sheep. They’ll probably show up this weekend. Before then, we have to get some sort of temporary shelter put up, electric fence, and then before snow falls, we need some permanent stuff.

We have sheep!

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