Friday 16 December 2022

Photos from 2022

Ruby and Paddy Pup - "Can you eat it?"

Paddy Pup, early in the season, actively patrolling with us on a walk of the property.

Grand-daughter helping harvest "mystery squash".  This squash appeared in the small barnyard and produced THIRTY fruit.  Despite not knowing what type it is, it kept well and continues to be tasty.

Grandma's helper

Henrietta llama in full fleece in late spring.  She was clipped in June, something she does not enjoy.  A very interesting behaviour this year is Henrietta and Paddy Pup chasing each other around the barnyard.  Sometimes Ruby plays too.


Millie is still with us and pushing 13 years of age.  Her mobility is limited and she is well medicated.  She is comfortable and happy.

We lost 3 lambs to coyotes at the end of June.  Millie is less effective as she ages.  Paddy Pup is not reliable yet, and Ruby has some odd fears of noises and hides in the barn.  After the coyote kill we implemented a number of strategies and one was to hang out my dirty barn clothes along the fence line, the human smell a coyote deterrent.  Paddy would curl up under my clothes in the daytime.  This was perfect as he was with his sheep, which is where he is often found.  He's turning into a fine guardian dog!

2022 Synopsis


Seasons Greetings,

In 2022 we welcomed many visitors, especially in the summer.  We always enjoy visitors, whether to share a tea or glass of wine; a hike; or, petting animals.  The number of visits has certainly escalated as we are sort of post-COVID. 

Retired this last year, D.R. has been quite busy, with several weeks of contract work with the Military and Karate teaching.  There are now Karate classes every evening except Saturday.  Much of it is remote and then there are monthly visits to us for in-person instruction.  Kelly continues to work 4 days per week.

In May we attended the wedding of D.R.’s eldest nephew, Ian.  It was a wonderful event held north west of K-W.  Near to our friends in Thornbury, we extended our time away and had a lovely visit there as well.  Thanks to Kelly’s sister for staying at the farm while we were away.

We once again hosted both Easter and Thanksgiving celebrations.  On Easter Monday as the remaining guests arrived, darling Duchess the sheep gave birth to triplets.  We once again had marvelous weather for Thanksgiving.  We are grateful for so many blessings, including family, friends, food, and an amazing place to live.  Following Thanksgiving Kelly got COVID, was not too ill, and recovered quickly. D.R. was spared.  No one else was stricken so Thanksgiving was not declared a super spreader event – something else for which to be thankful.

The garden was excellent this year.  The “mystery squash” - the one we did not plant but appeared at the barnyard, not even in the garden - produced 30 or so fruit.  We cannot identify it, however, it is yummy!  The pumpkin crop was exceptional, too.  We are expanding the garden next year, adding a squash only section.

The lamb crop was also good this year, with a total of 27.  We lost 3 lambs to coyotes at the end of June – the last loss was 8 years ago.  The present animal count is 23 hens, 19 sheep, 3 dogs, 1 goat, and 1 cat. 

Daughter Stacey and Grand-daughter Leonora came in September from their home in Amsterdam.  Papa Moe did not come this time.  Stacey had a business meeting and we provided childcare.  We had a super time together!  A new grandchild is expected in May.

Son Thomas is well and now has a part time tutoring job at a learning centre.  It is conveniently near his apartment.  He is very happy with this new adventure.

Sadly, Kelly’s younger brother passed away in early November.  He was 58 years of age.  He had been unwell for sometime and had battled many demons across his life.  Rest in Peace, dear brother.

We are planning for the holidays while managing late winter activities.  The weather has been good, since the foot of snow we got in mid-November has all melted.

It is our sincere wish that you and yours are healthy and well, that you have an enjoyable holiday, and wonderful New Year.

Merry Christmas!  Kelly & D.R. MacGregor     

Saturday 29 January 2022

A Winter Day on the Farm

 Hubby put together a few videos to depict a busy winter day on the farm.  All of this happened in one day.  This, despite the fact that I changed my coat several times.  


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Friday 31 December 2021



It has been six months since my last entry here.  Now, it is time to say goodbye to 2021 and hello to 2022.  I am drafting this post from Amsterdam city where Darling Daughter and her family live.  Hubby and Son and I have jumped through all of the COVID-related hoops to get here; and now are doing the same as we prepare to return home in the next few days.  Our Darling Grand-daughter is a gem and we are so delighted to spend some time with her – and, of course, her lovely parents.  Not much sightseeing is happening, just a lot of hanging out and eating and laughing and napping and going to playgrounds to watch a 20-month old blossom.



All of the lambs had departed from the farm by mid-September, except for the three replacement ewe lambs I chose to keep.  I kept Ginger – featured in the shearing day photo in the previous blog.  She is a bit of a pet and comes to get her head scratched.  She and her cousins, Nutmeg and Luna, are in the Small Barn with Nigel, the goat, while the ram is in the flock doing his thing.  These young girls will not be bred until next year when they are fully mature. 


Nigel has shocked me, becoming a pushy guy with these ewelings; he will push with his horned head, and bite their ears to get them out of his way.  They are much heavier than he is; they just run out of his way to get past him and kind of ignore him.  They must, however, keep their head down and away from his teeth - !


We are overwintering 14 breeding ewes; Brock, the ram; the 3 ewelings; and, Nigel, the goat.  In addition, we have Jet the cat, an additional stray that drops by; 3 dogs – see more on this below; and, about 15 laying hens.



The Winter goal is to get through the winter with everyone healthy.  We do not usually anticipate health issues in winter.  We need to manage the weather that is received and get the feed out when we can. In the Fall we had a major catastrophe with the tractor,  named Oz:  he required a new engine.  Although a ridiculous sum was necessary for repairs, the sum was much less than replacing Oz.  He was returned to us just prior to our departure.  We had been relying on a neighbour to put hay out for us as we transitioned from pasture to full time hay feeding just before we left.  We were able to pasture quite late this year.  This neighbour, additionally, put hay out for us while we have been away.



Because of COVID, opportunities to sell wool remain scarce.  I have not been very motivated to do other things to sell wool.  Keep in mind I continue to work full time, 4 days, in an off-farm job.  I do however feel very fortunate in that we have had some excellent fleece sales through the website.  As well, we have a few items in a local shop with some sales there, especially with felt balls.  I have had to spend some time making a few batches of felt balls – and made some smaller ones for Darling Grand-daughter, with the letters of her name on each.  They have been a hit!

Sheepskin sales have also been slow, with one or two sales in Guelph (thanks Mom!).  I did not process any last year.  I have sent 5 hides this year, 3 of which are black.



In my last post I commented on Millie’s declining health and our decision to not get a dog.  Both of these things have changed.  I discussed Millie’s new diagnosis with the Vet and was assured this is not a degenerative condition without complicating comorbidities, which she does not have.  We have put her on pain killers for her arthritic hind legs, a condition not related or impacting the newer diagnosis of Laryngeal Paralysis.  The summer was pretty hot for Millie.  She has enjoyed the cooler temps of the Fall more.

 In September we acquired an 8-week old Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD) puppy.  We would have preferred a young dog a bit older than this but the choices were quite limited.  And expensive.  We got the last pup in the litter, the one with the green collar.  From there we came up with the name, Paddy.  He is settling in.  The biggest challenge with him is that he plays hard with chickens; the result is their demise.  We have now lost at least 6 hens to Paddy’s antics.  We no longer let the hens loose; they have an outdoor pen to keep them safe from the guardian dog – is that an oxymoron?

Ruby plans beautifully with Paddy.  Millie wants nothing to do with Paddy and snarls at him when he gets close.  She is not nasty or mean, just clarifies her boundary.  Paddy likes the sheep.  He is now too rough with the ewe lambs and they will not stand up to him.  The ewes in the flock will stand up to him, for sure.  He requires supervision whenever he is with the other animals.  He gets daily long walks along the property perimeter with the other LGDs. 


Paddy puppy


At last check we had 15 hens.  The young birds acquired in the spring grew into lovely hens and laid eggs daily.  After Paddy destroyed a few hens, and I returned to the office and demand for eggs increased, I acquired some more birds.  Then Paddy reduced the numbers again.  I won’t consider buying anymore until spring.


Jet cat is doing well.  I did a double take one day when there was a cat at my feet and one in the other end of the building that I recognized as Jet.  This visitor is quite tame.  Jet is pretty wary of it, but not too much so.  There is always dried food for cats and a visitor is okay as there is lots of rodent work to do.  There are two strays we have seen, both black, one larger than Jet, and one smaller than Jet.  All are welcome to add their skill to the task at hand.


It was a very sad day when on July 17th, we had a strong wind with a rain storm.  As we ran around the house to close up the windows, I heard a strange rattling noise.  It wasn’t until a few minutes later when we looked outside to see the tree was down.  The rattling noise was the leaves shimmering in the wind as the tree fell to the ground.  Half the tree.  It was a two-prong tree and the larger side of it fell.  It was rotten inside and the tree expert who cleaned it up for us said the standing part of the tree is healthy.

The willow tree is a lovely focal point in the front yard and lambs play at its base each spring.  We will miss seeing this annual event of playtime under the willow tree.  It will now just be different.


Best wishes for a glorious 2022!



Thursday 1 July 2021

A 2021 Update

Wow, the year is half over!  Already!  

Happy Canada Day!  I know there are challenges right now in Canada, yet we need to come together and celebrate our nation for the place it is - good and not so good.  Every country has history that is unflattering.  We can work together and heal and move forward, together.


This year's lamb crop was excellent, once again.  We had 24 lambs born and lost 1.  So there are 23 afoot.  Shepherds desire a 1.5 average or higher.  Ours was 1.9 for quite some time and then dropped down to 1.8; an excellent productivity rating.  We had 2 sets of triplets this year which contributed to boosting the average.  One ewe was barren.

I supplemented 6 lambs with bottles.  I am so glad that is now over.  Hungry lambs require extra nutrition.  After awhile it just becomes a nuisance.  This year two of them became jumpers and I was always filthy and bruised.  I am still well greeted by (former) bottle lambs when I enter the barnyard and they get a scratch on the head.  The jumpers have stopped doing so and my bruises are healing.

Nap time at the horse shoe pit


As much as I enjoy the animals, the goal is to sell lamb for meat.  Auction prices this year have been very very high, 25% higher than the year before.  Although I will be raising my private sale price this year, it won't be a 25% increase.  Thus, I will not work hard to sell privately this year but intend to send most lambs to auction.


Shearing day was, as usual, a busy day.  I have a garage full of wool.  It is lovely.  I really want to get it into the hands of spinners and wool fibre crafters and artisans.  It has been challenging since vending events have been cancelled due to COVID 19.  If you would like wool, I have it!  No reasonable offer refused!  See the Wool page on the website.

Shearing day 2021

In this photo, the shearer is on the second to last sheep, Cookie.  He had to stop to clean the clippers.  I had grabbed Cookie's lamb and sat down and she relaxed in my arms.  It was a lovely feeling.  This lamb has stolen my heart and I guess I'm going to keep her now.  I have named her Ginger.  I kept Cookie's female lamb from last year by the same ram and they look completely different.  Here is a photo of Cupcake after she was shorn for the first time this year. Her wool is divine!



We lost our house dog last September and have no plan to replace him.  We loved Beau dearly and had him for 12 years.  My house is usually cleaner now without a house pet.

The guardian dogs, Ruby and Millie, continue to do their job well.  We frequently hear coyotes and have seen the odd one but nothing gets close to the sheep.  Ruby is now 6 years of age, and Millie is ten.  I recently took Millie to the vet since for weeks she has had noisy breathing.  My hunch was correct; she has a breathing challenge.  Diagnosed with Laryngeal Paralysis, nothing can be done.  It is a degenerative condition.  We have no timeline.  We will monitor her to ensure she is comfortable and make the decision to euthanise her when her quality of life deteriorates.  We will not replace her until after she is gone as this would be too stressful for her.

Millie the Maremma and Limpy the laying hen


When my 20 hens began to fall of in their egg production it was time to consider replacing them.  With the pandemic it has been more difficult to purchase birds from the producers.  I found an ad on kijiji for some young layers and I followed up.  I gave away my old birds, keeping behind one.  When I got the last batch of birds they didn't know to roost.  This was strange, but anyway, eventually they figured it out.  I helped them, going in after dark wearing a head lamp, picking them up off the floor and setting them on a roost.

One bird I got had a limp.  The lady from whom I purchased 5 birds at the end of the summer said she was fine the day before I came to pick them up.  I brought her home and put her in a cage for 3 weeks.  Nothing changed.  She ate very well and laid an egg almost every day.  We called her Limpy and let her out with the flock.  Limpy is now the boss.  She shows these new young girls how to roost and where to find the best worms.  Limpy continues to lay an egg almost every day.  The new girls haven't yet begun to lay.

New laying hens


We have had Jet Cat for over a year now.  Since Beau has gone, Jet spends lots of time around the house.  Beau did not like cats.  Jet has a roasting pan to sleep in outside the kitchen window.  The roasting pan is on a high cabinet and is lined with a towel.  Unlike a box, the roasting pan will not blow away.

Jet is a failed house cat.  I am way too allergic to have a cat indoors.  She is an excellent mouser and has figured out she is not coming into the house.  She has however discovered the lawn furniture on the verandah, especially the ones with the comfy cushions.  Jet rubs noses with the ram and the goat in the Small Barn.  Millie won't let Jet near the Big Barn - which is too bad as there are rodents there too.  Ruby and Jet have an understanding, if not a friendship.

Enjoy summer 2021!

Monday 28 December 2020

The Silver Sheep of Kindness


I was working as a Cashier in a local retail establishment, a part time job I had between professional positions.  I enjoyed the people contact as I had tired of talking with sheep and chickens.


One evening a woman entered the store and I greeted her.  She was wearing a wool winter coat that was red and on the left was a large silver sheep brooch.  It was LOVELY!  And I said so.  She was a little taken aback.  I was trying to make her feel welcome and yet I was truly admiring this lovely brooch.  I said I have sheep and her sheep was really sweet.


When this customer was ready to check-out, I was attending to another customer.  After the woman in the red coat left, my colleague who had rung her through the check-out, came to me and gave me the sheep brooch.  She told me the woman wanted me to have it and asked my colleague to give it to me after she had left.


I was – and continue to be – so very touched by this super kind gesture.  I now wear the silver sheep on my red wool coat.  Whenever anyone comments on my sheep brooch I share this story. 


Thank you, lady in the red wool coat, for the lovely silver sheep brooch.  I am grateful for your kindness and for the addition to my “flock”.  I enjoy sharing this story of your Random Act of Kindness. 

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Season’s Greetings!

                From our home to yours, Merry Christmas!  We hope that you and yours are well.  We want you to know that we are well and managing these strange times.  Increasingly each of us is personally touched by COVID 19, whether ourselves or someone we know.  Know then that you are not alone – despite the isolation we are all experiencing.

Not much has changed on the farm as a result of COVID 19.  The sheep and chickens, dogs, llama and goat haven’t noticed.  The biggest change is that the opportunities to sell my wool and wool products have all been cancelled.  There are no guild meetings and no fibre events.  I have sold a number of fleeces through the website, but my sales are very low this year, for sure.  The (frozen) lamb sales have been excellent and once again we are sold out.

Just as Ontario was entering lockdown in mid-March, Son, Thomas, came to the farm to stay with us.  We had no idea he would be here for a full four months.  It was a nice long visit.  He enjoyed a few daily chores – collecting eggs and vacuuming the back hall.  He cooked a few meals and helped with other meals.  He helped with outside jobs such as bringing in wood for this winter.  He found a satisfactory fishing hole a mile down the road.  He played his harmonic A LOT.  And, he worked at his desk solving Math problems.  Thomas is well and we look forward to his visit for Christmas, likely for another extended stay.

At mid-April the lambs arrived.  There was one traumatic birth that required the Vet but all recovered (including me!).  We had 24 {25 actually} live lambs (plus one dead / stillborn triplet).  There were no losses over the summer.  My freezer lambs dressed out very well.  We had some health issues last year that we managed better this year and the results were very positive.

As anticipated, our first grandchild arrived at the end of April.  Born in Amsterdam, Leonora Michaela Jeffery-Ernst arrived on April 26th at 7.6 pounds.  Daughter and new Mother, Stacey, and her husband, our son-in-law, and new Daddy, Moe, are wonderful parents.  We were scheduled to visit at the first of August.  D.R.’s employer, the Canadian Military, forbade travel.  By the time July came around my flight got cancelled.  Rather than re-book I decided to just wait.  We have regular video calls and daily photos and emails.  It is exciting to watch her grow.  As this is our first grandchild, we don’t really know what we are missing.  We do however really look forward to meeting Leonora in person.  Usually Daughter and her husband come for Christmas but not this year.

Both of our jobs have continued.  Working at home has had challenges for each of us, from technology to just plain working differently.  We have each experienced various work-related stressors as we have adjusted to this new way to work.  We have not cleaned closets and sorted stuff.  We have not taken up baking bread or any new hobbies.  We haven’t undertaken renovations because we have not had any extra time.  It’s been crazy-busy just keeping up with the new world of work.

We had a bumper crop of maple syrup for the second year in a row.  This is one of D.R.’s annual projects.  This year he bought a new burner apparatus and is currently looking at adding more equipment. 

We also had a super veggie garden.  It got warm early and we planted early and then it got silly hot.  I found asparagus seedlings this year and was so pleased to finally begin a patch.  We lost a bunch in the drought time of our summer, but a good portion survived and is mulched up for the winter.  For the first time, this year we planted Acorn Squash and Pie Pumpkins.  The squash section of the garden reminded me of Jacks’ Beanstalk.  Tomatoes, zucchini, beans, chard, herbs, peppers, onions, celery and leeks did well.  Roots don’t seem to do well but we have learned of one really happy spot for them.  Otherwise, in the big garden the voles and moles devour all that is underground – the hidden part of the iceberg, so to speak.

Working at home put our driving time back into our day and this was great.  It also afforded us the ability to provide the aging Beau dog, our house dog of 12 years, with greater attention.  He had a very good summer.  When summer was over, he’d had enough and began to quickly decline.  We helped him leave this world on September 1st.  He was about 14 ½ years of age; or, 98 in human years.

Each of us recently purchased new cars.  It was time.  My car was 11 years of age, a good ripe age for a car.  D.R.’s car was a bit younger but was going to need extensive repairs / upgrades.  I purchased another Honda Fit while D.R. moved from the Mini to a Honda Civic Sport.  We are well balanced since one is white and one is black, and having owned one of each in the past, neither colour is easy to keep clean.  Our road was the subject of extensive work this summer and the gravel is now gone and we have a hard surface – and the cars stay cleaner.

D.R. has been teaching karate again.  The newest part is he’s teaching online, so you can join in on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings.  He is looking forward to spending more time on this after he retires in February.

In 2019 we spent a LOT of money on fencing the perimeter of the pastured land of the farm.  We have just had a small fencing job done.  The dilapidated fence at the driveway was replaced, two new gates installed along with a new line of fence to create a permanent paddock in which we keep the ram in summer. 

The mild Fall has been WONDERFUL.  We might now be ready for Winter but enjoy any mild weather sent our way.  The sheep are still eating pasture which reduces our feed costs for the Winter.

 Be well. Stay safe.  Find JOY in the Holiday Season.