I don’t know about you, but when I love something that nurtures me, I think about it all the time! This farm we are gifted with is one of my great loves. To a fault sometimes I constantly think about it. Laying in bed at night, I sometimes get up with the need to go write something that came to me and that I want to make sure I remember in the morning. I will randomly turn to my husband Paul and ask him a sheep question, yikes! I love growing food, I was born on “une ferme Maraichere” in the South West of France and my Dad knows how to grow food better than anybody I have met! (Here is to my Dad, my hero!). But The gotlands, they have won my heart! It all started with a young boy, our oldest son Romain, at the Black Sheep Gathering 10 years ago, and one question: What breed are these lovely sheep? It triggered my attention, and step by step, here we are 10 years later, with our own small flock of Gotland, our breeding program, and our second year of doing AI with imported Swedish genetics and prospects for the future with this breed.
Season after season, we seem to learn a little better how to care for them ( we spend a lot of time with them because of the many children we always have on the farm, most of them love it, GOTLANDS ARE VERY SOCIABLE)), how to feed them (we rotate them on the pasture that we have, we supplement some grain to flush them and at lambing and to keep moving them easily! We use good quality hay, orchard grass and some alfalfa after lambing), how to keep their fleeces clean (we feed them LOW to the ground with feeders that will make waste limited-pictures of the feeders to follow), when to shear them ( we are on a twice a year shearing schedule, our Fall shearing is our most spectacular one), how to love them (that is the very easy part!).
Our goal is to continue to keep a small flock, that our land can sustain as much as possible. Finding the balance between what the pasture can provide and the feed we need to import. We hope to breed about 10 ewes each year. We are favoring quality over quantity. The goal is to have a few really nice ewes as well as one or two spectacular rams to sell into other flocks yearly and of course to retain the animals that will allow us to breed for a better Swedish looking Gotland. Some of the lambs are available as fiber pets, companion animals or to feed your family. Some of the older ewes that have helped better our flock may become available at a reasonable price to enhance starter flocks.
This Thursday, September 6th, we will AI 6 of our ewes. This is an exciting time with the prospects of new and interesting animals to add to our flock and to pass onto other breeders. Some of our younger ewes will be naturally bred. This year we are leasing a ram lamb from Ronan Country Fibers, a Lindholmen direct son. We will also use a ram lamb from our farm, a grandson of SW Grandby Mr Big and Fattings Aron. These are exciting times indeed. A lot of learning goes into preparing the ewes for AI. (CIDRs need to be inserted, then removed along with a combination of hormones that will bring on Estrus at the right time). Then it is a bit of a waiting game! Eventually the ones that did not take will come back into heat, and be bred by a back up ram. At some point Paul will ultrasound the girls to confirm pregnancy and to further educate ourselves.
Spring and summer in the garden have been fabulous! We have put out so much produce from the gardens. We have also helped feed some families with 5 to 8 CSA boxes per week. We will continue into October and will most likely keep small shares of salad greens, winter greens, onions, potatoes and winter squash into the late fall and winter. Forever grateful to the families who let us feed them veggies, berries and eggs!
We still have a lot of work to complete before the rain arrives. We will also have guests visiting from France. Be sure and let us know if you would like to be on our list to reserve lambs for the spring of 2019. We already have a starter flock reserved and as we are still growing our flock, we will have limited amount of animals available. Also check back with us really soon as we have some products for sale.
We have some nice farm and gotland related cards, as well as roving and beautiful yarn from our Gotlands, as well as tote bags and cups with our farm logo, as well as bilingual coloring/activity books. Contact us for more details about these items now.
As always, thank you for reading us and following us!