The wetlands police, overstocking and husbandry issues

Not too far from us is a property on a major road we checked out but rejected due to the house being a structural mess and the five acres being true wetlands (one of the local rivers runs through the middle).

Anyway, in the last few months someone bought the property, which had turned into a mold palace and is currently overstocking illegally.  Due to the river issue, very few animals of any kind could be raised on the land.  But there are currently more than a dozen sheep, half a dozen alpacas, two dozen or more poultry, five calves, a dozen or so goats, and a few llamas, all on five acres of wetlands. There were some fencing issues, although the loose animals did not make it out to the street.  They did get hay for the animals, but it’s of poor quality and the sheep are wool breaking due to stress.  And the sheep are not a breed that sheds, so it’s pretty bad.  The calves are very skinny and so are the alpacas.

But they fixed the fencing and the animals have hay and water.  It’s not a situation where you can file a cruelty or neglect complaint.  They’re just bad at “having animals” and some might die, but the animals just might not.  Sometimes animals can get along for years on bad hay and generally poor forage.  And overstocking is a relative thing to most people.

The reason I’m finally writing this up even in passing is that the wetlands police are pretty ostentatiously not shutting them down or taking their stock away.  Even though with the overstocking literally in the flow path of a river, there is an actual case for wetlands policing.  Things are changing in this county, I guess.

I’m not sure what it means for the future.  And we’ll see in a few months if it’s just a delay in processing.

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Sustainable urban farmer Will Allen is coming to Snohomish

This is just a fangirl post. Will Allen is the Joel Salatin of urban farming, often cited/referenced, never duplicated.

He brings a wonderful sense of practicality to his desire to help support his community that is simply amazing in the urban farming space, which is laden with, well, impracticality.  He is pretty neat and he is going to be in MY TOWN WOO.

Sadly, I can’t go tomorrow or when he’s at Focus on Farming.  But it’s so cool to know he’s come down to visit us in Northern Cascadia.

Growing Power, site describing their work, including their non-urban farming efforts.

He’ll be keynoting at Focus on Farming.

http://farmerfrog.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/FocusonFarmWillAllen.jpg  There is the poster for his day tour, with all the locations, yay!

He’s worth seeing!

Local Foodshed Spotlight– Hagen Farm

This here is the farm we got pork and beef from.

The animals are very high quality, the beef is top notch, so much so that the organs are flavorful and tender.  The kidneys, for example, had none of the strong flavors commonly expected with cow kidneys.  The liver was also mild enough that even I, who truly can’t deal with liver’s texture or flavor was able to eat a little braised with a bit of cornmeal.  No soaking in milk was needed either.  It was pretty fabulous.  The pork we got has been nice as well, not least of which are tender hams and good thick-cut bacon.  This is a farm I would completely recommend as a place to get beef and pork by the quarter/half/whole for those in the Snohomish County area.

It’s a joy to support local farmers when they provide a quality product at excellent prices.  Hagen Farm is about $3.50/lb or so for beef and about $4.50/lb or so for pork, including separate-pay cut and wrap fees to the butcher.  Again, great farm, very local, highly recommend for anyone with enough storage for quarter/half/whole beef and/or half/whole hogs.  She also has lamb, but we ran out of storage with the cow and the pig, so perhaps another year!  Delicious! And I’m glad to see her getting some local notice as I noted above.  It was so funny, I said to my husband “That farm is where we got our cow! and they’re in the paper!” and we both had a moment there.

Post a Pic Tuesdays– Juniper Burn, or the Desolation of Stupid

As is occasionally the case with country living, accidents will happen.  In this case, a stray spark led to a small brush fire, scorching juniper that had run wild over the landscaping (which was a nice side effect) but also nailing our plum and cherry trees (which was a not so nice side effect).  We got to meet the fine folks of Snohomish Fire District 4 who arrived very very quickly and immediately got the fire under control.  It looks bad from the road, but it’s a fairly small burn.

Here’s some pictures of it all

Burnt Holly

The fire hit this English holly, another invasive that will now be easier to dispense with.

Window View

Taken from the window, not long after the firemen (and one lady) put the blaze out.

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Scorched juniper

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The flames went right up-hill due to it being a breezy day.

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The burn revealed old terrace landscaping that had become hidden under mounds of juniper bushes, now burnt bare.

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That untreated cedar fence was going to be firewood. Heh.

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Poor plum tree, no plums this year. 😦

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Closer view of the old terracing and the poor plum tree of love.

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It spread through the grass up hill, but was beaten back, so our pasture is fine.

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The juniper hid a lot of hard work landscaping this place.

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Poor cherry tree! The stump is fine, though!

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This is well up-hill, it spread in less than ten minutes. This is why rural areas need multiple fire districts.

Desolation of stupid is my husband’s name for the burned area.  The Juniper Burn is mine.  It looked worse than it is.  The grass is likely to come back, it doesn’t look like anything was burned to death, but with no leaves, the juniper will be much easier to clear out and replace with fruit trees or bushes.  While the fire was going on, it was stressful, but it was over quickly.  I took the girls and kept them out of trouble.  My oldest was thrilled and wanted to help the firemen.  My youngest smelled the smoke and was scared and unhappy.  Funny how personality differences come through even at very young ages.

Anyway, due to this accident, we’re going over our property and will be working to clear fire hazard plants out now while there is still frequent rain.  And if things go very well, we’re going to go ahead and throw some sheep out to graze down some of the brush in the next week or two.  Sheep are great at eating plain grass and also knocking out underbrush.  Their dining habits blend cow and goat, skewing more towards one or the other depending on breed.

Life is a strange business, but we’re glad to have good neighbors and firefighters.