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

ARCHIVED NEWSLETTER - 21st December 2007

Winter Solstice

Over the years here we have become used to Summer and Fall droughts but this years was prolonged and lasted well into the fall. We unrolled hay when needed and the lambs came into the barn in mid-November in good condition. The pond behind the house dried up for the first time in the 15 years we've been here. Noel was on the Island with a bulldozer and we were able to hire him for a couple of days to dig the pond deeper. He went down 10 feet on the north side and could have kept going and down four feet to a rock ledge on the south side. It looks terrific!!

This fall we added 3 more heated drinkers in the barn. These together with the existing three, the hay chopper and conveyer belt feeding system make it easier to feed large numbers of lambs. We have more lambs held over this year as we sold all of our available breeding replacements for delivery in March. The market lambs have grown well but prices this fall have been dissappointing compared to last fall. There is more week to week variability in prices . Is this because of the high Canadian dollar (at par or better than U.S.) and the fact thar other meats (eg. pork and beef) are so cheap or is it related to less spending generally over Xmas? As usual we'll never know and we fall back to our regular fall and winter selling strategy of sending well sorted and finished every week rather than trying to target specific weeks which often seems to fail.

In November we purchased 2 sturdy ponies - Pal and Gazoo. Our hope next spring and summer is to replace some of the livestock work on the 4-wheeler with the ponies. It will take longer but will be different and make the job more interesting. For overseas readers this takes at least 2 hours every day and is essential because of our problems with coyotes.We've got some work to do to make sure the guard dogs and the ponies get used to one another. So far the've been fine in the barn with the dogs and the puppies.

Speaking of dogs we have had 2 litters of puppies this fall - they are mostly sold but there are a couple left.

Kate Broadbent has been in Ontario this fall and we were able to get off the farm for a few weekends in October and November whilst she looked after things. It is great having someone with the full skill set (livestock and machinery) that is also comfortable dealing with all the dogs.

Hope you have a great Xmas and a Happy New Year.

Cheers Mark and Cherry