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

CURRENT NEWSLETTER - October 2008

Stay tuned for our blog!

Spring and summer seem to have sped by and as you can see we haven't written a newsletter since last December. Our life, though very busy, follows a fairly regular routine from month to month but every year presents unique challenges. We have decided that this will be our last regular newsletter as such and are going to link to a blog on the website – not an hour-by-hour, blow-by-blow of our everyday life but photos and/or comments when something interesting or exciting happens. We think that this will be easier for us to manage and keep current. We'll see!!

It was a very snowy winter but we had adequate hay and the 4-wheel drive tractor proved its worth, as always, in the deep snow. It was hard on the wild deer – some were in very poor condition by the spring, with a number being killed by coyotes through the winter. Tracks in the snow tell the tale – you can see where running deer plunge through the snow banks, whereas the coyote tracks show that the frozen crust is enough to support the coyotes and give them the advantage.

May turned out to be a perfect month-warm and dry with steady growth making lambing a real pleasure. The warmth bought the clover and trefoil on early and the drier conditions meant they were not shaded out by grass growth. The hay fields came up in a terrific mix of 1/3 grass,1/3 trefoil and 1/3 clover. The problem was we couldn't make the hay – it was a summer of continuous rain. The pastures were fantastic and never burned off but it was impossible to cut or dry the hay. For three weeks in July we didn't take the tractors into the fields – it would have rutted up the ground. So we made a stone table and laid stones on the floor of the Pergola. With all the rain the climbing plants have reached the top and it is a lovely place to sit in the evenings. Eventually it did stop raining and we were able to get hay made. It was surprisingly good quality; the clovers and trefoil had stayed thick in the bottom with the wet conditions. A dry September allowed us to get all the hay hauled home.

The thick lush growth on the pastures and the high humidity led to a serious parasitic worm problem in the sheep in July, something we haven't had happen before. The logistics of bringing all the sheep and lambs home to the yards would have been very time consuming and stressful for the livestock and for the farmer! Luckily our mobile Prattley sheep yards came into their own and we were able to treat all the sheep in the fields.

In the previous newsletter there was a picture of a bulldozer in the bottom of our dry pond. This year we put some trout in the new, deeper pond in the spring and with the wet summer the water level stayed high and the fishing has been fun. Quite a lot more challenging than we thought it would be – the fish seemed to get educated very quickly! We have had fewer coyote kills this summer, the dogs are working well and we have a number of young dogs with lots of energy. Talking of energy we are going into winter for the first time with a very substantial pile of firewood – another thing we did during the long stop at haymaking.

The weather is still very pleasant, only a very light frost in the low spots. We have started a big fencing project. We intend to upgrade all the fences around the home farm to make them as high and as coyote proof as those around the compound as it, the compound has been so successful.

We will start selling lambs on a regular basis now – here’s hoping for good prices.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,

Mark and Cherry