Let it be known!

Today is a simple tip that will hopefully help a lot. Over the last year, and even still a little today, I was hesitant to let people know what we were up to. I was scared that people would look at us and say we were crazy (which I do think so myself sometimes) and crush our spirit; or the opposite. I didn’t want to “talk-the-talk” and not have it work out and have everyone know we couldn’t do it. Gab was making business cards and I was telling him not to pass them out; in my mind we were not ready for that.
This is the wrong attitude to have. Let your project be known. Talk about what you are working towards to anyone and everyone. There are so many good people in this world that want to see you succeed and will offer to help. We were only into farming one month when we had neighbours, some we didn’t even know, stopping in to see what we were up to. Our barn was probably the worst set up barn you can imagine but people didn’t care. They loved it.
When we would talk about having dairy sheep, some people would ask “ and what are you supposed to do with them?”…… hmmm… awkward silence. When we said we were going to milk them, they were surprised. “You can milk sheep!?” We all must remember that not everyone spends their spare time researching different aspects of farming, so it is a big deal for some to learn about our projects. From our experience, people have been extremely supportive and want to see us succeed.
There is also the other side of the coin. My dad was very worried for us, that starting new; we would be competing with, and be crushed by, those established farmers around us. To the contrary; those farmers who know a lot about the ins and outs of farming have also been extremely generous and willing to help and we will forever be grateful. The farmers we hired to cut our hay did their best to make sure they provided us with nice dry hay. They knew we didn’t have the experience we needed to make decisions to insure we didn’t mess up our crop. So they cut it; they came back to check on it to make sure it was drying nicely; and they made the decision on when to bale it themselves.
Just talking about our project saved us when it came time for our first shearing. Gab and I planned to hire a shearer and be the only two in the barn to help her. When a neighbouring farmer got wind of this he warned Gab to get on the phone and start recruiting help; we would not be able to do that on our own. He also offered us his chute knowing that we didn’t have one and that it would make our day go a lot smoother. We listened to him, we got on the phones and started to make some phone calls. However recruiting people on Thursday for Saturday, the last weekend before Christmas, was not an easy task…. actually impossible. Luckily, earlier in the month we were talking to a family friend who was part of a weaving group, telling her when we were planning to shear. She knew her fellow-weavers would be interested in buying some of the raw wool. What we didn’t expect was that these ladies would be so wonderful and that they would show up dressed in layers and ready to spend the whole day with us! They showed up and told us that when they went to a shearing, they stayed to help. They were much more knowledgeable on the subject than we were and knew exactly how to separate all the wool and how we should set up in the barn as to make this task more manageable. A day I was dreading and worried about turned out to be quite enjoyable; in good company; and resulted in new friendships. These women had small farms of their own and had great advice for us.

Amber Peterson- shearer extraordinaire-and Gab in the back clipping some hooves

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So yes, “talk, talk, talk”. There will be some who say you are crazy, that what you are doing is just not possible, but there will be many who want to get involved and/or many you will learn great things from.

A lambing update

A quick update on the farm front. We are about one-third through lambing. We (mostly Gab) are tired but it is going pretty well.

This past weekend, was rock-and-roll for us. Friday night Gab did not sleep at all; he was in the barn all night. Saturday night, I took the midnight shift, one that also turned into an all nighter. In two days, our flock grew by 21 lambs. On top of not having slept ourselves, Marcel was sleeping opposite schedules to ours and my mom (who normally helps us full-time) was away on a trip. This was difficult. It was certainly a Grand-Maman appreciation weekend. I understood this week what she meant when, a while back, I asked her ‘’how did you manage to raise 6 children?’’ and she answered ‘’I certainly wasn’t writing blogs…’’. I don’t have 6 children, but this weekend I felt like I was 6-kid tired.

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Grand-Maman and Marcel’s cousin Hélène.

We have had a few hiccups recently . One of our ewes was having trouble lambing and we could not seem to help her. We ended up calling the vet who came and extracted the lamb within minutes and gave us tips on how to do so for the next time this happens (the lamb was positioned sideways). We also had a significant prolapse to deal with. Although not as severe, luckily I had dealt with this before ( * See Post ‘’Oh Alma…’’) so we were able to take care of it on our own (after a phone call to a fellow sheep farmer of course). Thirdly, one of our lambs broke its leg and we are not sure how so. Lastly, just last night we had a ewe pushing out 2 babies at the same time. We tried to push one back, letting one come out first. No luck; both ended up coming out in piggy back formation. They are both fine, but that was kind of weird and had us questioning what we should do.

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The feeders make a great observation point!

We currently have 80-some healthy babies ( we have lost 5 so far) from 40-some healthy mommas. Most ewes delivered twins however we have many sets of triplets as well. Fingers crossed, our success continues (and my mom’s flight home is not delayed… 1 more sleep…)

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