Winter has been long, cold, and harsh here at Ribstone Farm. But, of course, many of you have been living through the same conditions. The sheep are demolishing hay at a tremendous rate. We’re some of the lucky ones, though. We traditionally put up more hay than we need, and over the past few years of bumper hay crops have built up a tidy reserve.
This winter we’ve had to seriously break our tradition of avoiding grain for the sheep. Last winter we did give the sheep barley on a few days that seemed particularly harsh, but overall we had few days of wind and below -30°C temperatures. This winter has seen entire weeks below -30°C, with windchills of -50°C and we’re not about to let sheep suffer in that just to say we don’t feed grain! So, this winter the sheep have been receiving barley, molasses, and protein supplements along with all the hay they can eat. We’re looking forward to many fat, healthy lambs in April.
We will not have any registered stock this year. Because working two jobs, building a new house, and raising a wee boy fill up a lot of time, we simply didn’t bother to keep a record of who bred who. Any farmer who tells you they themselves have not been in such a position is lying. We chose to forgo book keeping in favour of putting the time into other tasks that needed attention, and I doubt we’ll regret that decision.
Soon it will be spring. It may not seem like it when we look out the window, but the days are getting longer, the livestock are starting to get restless, and the birds are behaving much as if it were April. I choose to believe they know something we don’t.