Foot Flats Farm - Amherst Island, Ontario, Canada Foot Flats Farm Seasonal Newsletter

Footflats Farm 2011

A good year with lots happening.

The ewes that we artificially inseminated with imported semen in November 2010 lambed in April. We inseminated 100 ewes. Seventy three of the ewes lambed successfully producing 143 lambs evenly divided between ewe and ram lambs. As the lambs grew out it was interesting to note that the ewe lambs were much more uniform in type and growth than the ram lambs.

As we have two bloodlines, in December 2011 all the ewe lambs were exposed to rams from the opposite bloodline. We are looking forward to seeing the results of this mating when the ewes lamb in May. At scanning in March all but two scanned in lamb.

The other thing that happened in April was that our grand daughter Natasha arrived on the farm. Tasha had come to Canada earlier in the year and had been visiting in British Columbia with family in Vancouver and friends in Tumbler Ridge where she used to live.

Tasha helped with lambing the NZ ewes, docking, hay making and anything else that needed doing on the farm. She was great with the animals, worked really hard and was always cheerful. Maybe they'll be something farm or agriculture related in her future!!

Tasha obviously talked up the experience because now her sister Gayla is due to arrive at the end of April and is planning to work through to the fall. Everyone is very excited.

The first week of the school holidays we had our family week at the cottage. Adam and Sue and Rebecca were over from New Zealand and so we had all 5 children and all the Grandchildren except Gayla who had university commitments in NZ. Had a very successful float for the parade, lots of volleyball, a hoola hoop class run by Karen Walhout, table tennis for the first time in one of the tents, games run by Char, swimming, tubing (thanks to Garry!!) and lots of fun and laughter. At the end of the week we purchased an inflatable from a neighbour and look forward to using it next year.

From May until the end of the year, we had a young man from New Zealand, Kelvin, who was here on the WHP program (working holiday program). This is administered by the Dept of External Affairs and allows young people between the ages of 18 and 25 to work abroad for a year. He had worked on a large sheep station in NZ where the sheep numbered in the tens of thousands and where he was one of many shepherds. Working on a smaller family farm in Ontario was quite a change. Kelvin put up fence for us, helped around the farm ,demonstrated the Prattley equipment for us at the plowing match and made lots of friends on the Island. During family week he made a spit and we cooked a whole lamb,New Zealand style which was a great success. He left the Island after Xmas and moved on to work in the bar scene in Ottawa until he goes to the UK at the end of April to visit family.

When we were hauling hay home in the fall, Dan had a very unfortunate experience with a cow. One of the neighbours beef cows was out on the road and the three of us stopped to put it back into the field. The cow was being very difficult, Dan turned it back twice but then it rushed him, knocked him over and trampled him on it's way past. Dan was winded and in shock and Kelvin responded quickly getting him breathing again. Dan had in fact a broken arm and damage to his spleen and wasn't able to return to work until the New Year — he was sorely missed !!

We were able to get away to Scotland in October to visit Mark's father for his 97th birthday. Steve was well and one of our projects while we were there was to investigate designs for a chicken run. In the spring of 2012 he intends to start a new career as a farmer — moving his chickens in their pen around his lawn. If he produces a surplus of eggs he intends to give them away around the village.


Prices for sheep and lambs have been strong again this year as have breeding stock sales. It's nice to have the extra income to catch up on differed maintenance on fencing, buildings and machinery. With the low sheep numbers here and around the world we feel that the good prices should last for a while yet.

We had a very mild fall and as we are writing (March-- late as usual) we can say that we have just had the mildest winter in our memory. The sheep have come through in really good condition and the grass is already green.

Have been a challenge the last few years and with the mild winter we worry that this may have resulted in the over-wintering of more worm eggs on the pasture. Barbers Pole worm (haemonchus contorta) is the biggest concern as regards parasites. The last few hot humid summers have provided ideal conditions for this pest to multiply and we have lost some ewes in July each year. It is ewes with twins or triplets that are most affected. It hits suddenly and if you do an autopsy on the ewe you find that her stomach is full of blood sucking larvae and she dies, not because she is sick, just extremely anaemic. We are looking at various strategies to address the problem, not the least of which is that the Coopworth semen imported from New Zealand was selected from rams with good parasite resistence.

It looks as if a large wind farm will be constructed on Amherst Island in 2013. The process is well underway as the developer works through the various steps in the Green Energy Act. This act was put in place by the provincial government in an effort to streamline wind/solar development. The municipalities have been removed from the approval process and there is a lot of dissent in rural Ontario and the Island itself is very divided. At a public open house in December 2011 all the potential sites for turbines were disclosed. There are 37 sites identified. Our farm is not involved but most of the grazing and hay land that we farm is involved. The big challenge for us will be in 2013 during the construction phase. We will have to fence our sheep away from the turbine sites and the associated access roads.

This property has been a great success, particularly for family reunions as it absorbs 10+ people easily. We put in all new windows in June and then re-sided the house in October. Just have to do the doors now and build a deck
out back.

We purchased an old home in Emereld at the other end of the Island. The original part of the house was the Cheesemaker's house and the ruins of the old cheese factory are on the lot. The house needs a lot of work but we are making good progress. It has lots of room with five bedrooms and a big lot with the lake just across the road. The plan is to find a full time employee who would be willing to make a long term commitment to us, the farm and
the Island and that this house would go with the job.

All the best to all of our friends and family ,
Cherry and Mark.