Friday, May 25, 2012


Ya know that annoying kid on the team who is always bragging and is a pretty good player, but that is eclipsed by their overbearing atttitude?  And you walk away wishing that they would be 'knocked down a peg or two'?
Our morning CBC radio show host came by yesterday to do a little farm tour and interview piece about our operation and it was one of those perfect days on the farm.  It looked like a postcard.  The sun was shining, the crops were growing without too many weeds yet, Mark was planting, Wendell was harrowing, the kids were running through the dandelions and the animals were all our lazing around in the lush pastures.  And as Matt (the CBC host) was asking questions and commenting during the tour, I had this niggling feeling about how 'too good to be true' it all is.  I made sure that we talked about the struggles of farming, like earlier this week when we realized the sheep's pasture was a bit of a failure, but overall, the farm came off looking pretty good and I think it probably sounded a bit smug, because I was probably feeling a bit smug and telling myself it was just contentment.

Anyway, over the last 24 hours, we've been knocked down a peg or two.  Last night we learned that we will not be getting the organic manure from the hog producer we sell our grain to, as we had previously assumed.  It was mostly just a miscommunication, but an unfortunate one which means we need to re-think that part of our fertility plan.  We're also looking at other new markets for the fall and expanding the way we've been thinking, which is always an interesting challenge.
So while, pondering all of that this morning while moving my sheep fence in the pasture, I came upon what is one of my worst scenarios.  One of my yearling ewes had gotten herself wrapped up in the poly wire that we separate the paddocks with and I found her dead, in amongst the tall grass.  The feeling that sits in ones belly for the day, following that kind of discovery is not a fun one.  It's one of dread, regret, sadness, but mostly guilt.  I have stopped imagining the kind of struggle she put up and how she might have suffered, had a good bawl and have moved on, but the guilt doesn't move on quite so easily. 
It was only a few weeks ago that Mark and I were doing one of our presentations and I was going on about the mutual relationship between a farmer and their livestock and how each is providing for the other and that it is a unique connection that can only come with caring for an animal that you helped birth, raised and will slaughter.  When something like this happens, it feels like one side of the relationship didn't hold up their end, and it is terrible to know it was you.
 Now if my Mom was here, she would likely suggest that I pull up my bootstraps, get off the computer, get outside, do something and accept that the lamb probably would have died doing something else anyway.  And I knew as soon as I saw the body that it was the spooky lamb I had who I had meant to ship because she was always jumpy and was going to be a pain to lamb because she never seemed to gain any trust of me and would run over a kid to get away from everybody.  Tomorrow that fact might make me feel better.
Today, she's still one of my flock and I feel like crap. 

So I've got the girls in the front part of the pasture now, which is short and varied species and they're pigging out.  They'll probably all have the shits tonight, but they'll be content with warm, full bellies, ready to do it all again tomorrow. 
We'll be hooking up the bush cutter today and getting the rest of the pasture cut down as low as we can in the hopes that the orchard grass gets set back and the legumes have a better chance at competing.  Not to mention, that with shorter grass, I'll actually be able to see what is going on in the pasture and not just a few heads poking up above it. 

We also realized that our first batch of chicks are ready to hit the pasture next week so we've been 'hardening them off' by turning off their heat lamps and opening windows in the brooder house.  So feeding, moving and watering those guys will be a whole new element of chores to add on in a few days.  It makes me enjoy the 'easy' chores we have now, that much more.

I'm off to pull up my bootstraps, get outside and do something with myself.  Here's hoping you're doing the same.  Getting outside I mean.



  1. Awh Sally, you express it all so well. I would not make a good farmer for sure. Tomorrow will be better.

  2. i'm sorry for the loss of the ewe... your feelings about it are what make you and mark such good farmers... i found all good livestock farmers share that some concern/empathy towards their herd... it was the struggle you worried about not the death..

  3. Bad run of luck here these past two weeks as well. We have lost two calves in as many weeks. Things can hopefully only go up from here. On the plus side, planting is almost complete...just in time, too - the farmer goes in for his operation in four days!

  4. By the way that is Lisa NOT Lis!!!