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

Bill Wilson and Judy Ridsdale
ARCHIVED NEWSLETTER - 21st December 2006

Winter Solstice

At the end of September we had a visitor from New Zealand. There were lots of stories and fun as Mark initiated Martin Brenstrum (a Possum control contractor) into the whys and wherefores of Canadian sheep farming, including of course the problem of coyotes. They caught a coyote on September 28th, but the killing continued all through October. There was no respite until we put the lambs into the compound (coyote exclusion zone) on October 24th. The coyotes then moved onto the ewes and we lost three more over the next couple of weeks.

October was incredibly wet. Our neighbour Harry Filson, who keeps daily weather information, measured 10.5 inches of rain in the first three weeks of the month.

Lamb prices were good at Cookstown for the Thanksgiving sale but then fell over the next two weeks - Ramadam, a Muslim festival, was oversupplied this year i.e. too many of us sent lambs in the two weeks prior to the festival expecting good prices. It is difficult to get it right, always a bit of a gamble no matter how hard you try.

The rest of November was busy as the ewes started to make their way home from their summer pastures at the Planks. The weather was mild, they continued to graze, we were shipping lambs every week and getting ready to move over to the winter feeding routine.

Bill Wilson and Judy Ridsdale arrived on November 24th. Bill and Judy are going to be looking after the farm for us this winter when we go on holiday to New Zealand – very exciting, Mark has not been back for 17 years. Since they arrived we have all been busy – shearing the winter lambing ewes, sorting out the replacement ewe lambs who are now all in the barn and sorting the ewes into their three breeding groups for the Rams who went out on December 15th.

In between Mark and Bill planted poplar poles (an experiment). Our neighbours Rick and Donna trimmed back a lot of large poplars and we took the 10 foot poles and stuck them in the ground. We’ll see in the spring! If it works it will be a good way to get some more shade trees on the farm quickly and without having to protect them from the sheep.

Juno, Martin and Turk (our young Akbash) killed two coyotes in mid December .We were pleased, apart from evening up the odds, Juno had been bitten very badly by a coyote earlier in the fall and we were afraid that it might have shaken her confidence.

Also in November, we finally shipped our wool to the Woolgrowers in Carlton Place - at 11,000 lbs it was our biggest load ever!

December continues to be very mild – beautiful weather but a problem for feeding out. The ewes haven’t really settled to hay – they are still looking for the grass that they think should be there – and its difficult not to make ruts in the fields with the tractor.

However we are happily getting ready for the holidays. Here’s wishing you all a Merry Xmas and a very Happy New Year.

Mark,Cherry, Bill and Judy.