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!