Our first lamb of the year, a sturdy wee ewe. Here’s to many more to come!
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.
Lambing is always a busy time. So far, lambing has gone slowly. Not many twins, but lots of large, healthy lambs.
It’s always an adventure to see if we’ll have more ram lambs or ewe lambs born to us in a season. So far this year, our numbers look to be about even. With our Icelandic Sheep, you don’t have to look very hard to see if a new wee lamb is a ram or ewe – the ram lambs have impressive horn buds from day one and you can spot them from many meters away.
The rains finally came yesterday. We had been experiencing a dry, windy spring and the risk of fire was high. We had already put out one budding grass fire right in the main farmyard before this rain came. Now we can look forward to less dust a more green grass – great news for growing lambs, chicks, geese, and calves.
Soon it will be shearing time. It seems like just yesterday that we sheared the flock and drove the wool sacks to the mill. But here we are again and we’ll see if we can finish it in record time this year.
Spring has kept us on our toes this year. For some time it seemed as if we were caught in eternal winter.
And then it changed. Monday saw temperatures in the 30 degrees centigrade range. The last snowbanks in the farmyard melted yesterday.
The robins are singing, flocks of cranes are flying overhead, there are crocuses in the pastures and lambing starts in a week.
After a very long winter, spring is finally arriving here on Ribstone Farm. This past winter was one of the worst in recent memory, with snow on the ground from the middle of October until the beginning of May. Hard weather for calving.
We’ve been lucky, though, for lambing. Lambs are due to arrive in the middle of May, when the weather should be beautifully warm and green grass starting to appear.
Speaking of new arrivals, we welcomed the birth of a son this April. Wee Robbie gets to be the newest shepherd here on Ribstone Farm and we look forward to many adventures with him.
On Ribstone Farm we focus on Icelandic Sheep. However, we love keeping chickens as well. Yesterday we brought home ninety nine new baby chicks. The Barnevelder, Silver-Grey Dorking, Barred Rock, and Speckled Sussex chicks were picked up yesterday at the Calgary International Airport and were sent to us by Performance Poultry of Ontario.
If you’ve never spent time with chickens, I suggest you find an opportunity to do so. They’re better than TV by far.
We also look forward to welcoming a few turkeys to our farm in the coming weeks.