MILKHOUSE

Farm & Dairy

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Now that winter is here full-force our daily routine has changed from the bustling activity of December to planning that activity that will quickly come this Spring. Between the Christmas markets that filled our last few weeks we have been reflecting on the past year, crunching numbers and projecting what is to come for us, our animals and our business in 2013.

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:: Last January a little flock of seven lambs: our milkers-in-training

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:: Our second flock of Winston and 19 lucky ladies spent most of the winter gossiping away in the sun.

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Not unexpectedly the month of February was cold with temperatures dropping well below -30C with the wind chill. We kept busy with off-farm work and a Holistic Farm Management course taken with other local farmers in the Ottawa area.

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As March arrived we began preparing for our second round of lambing on the farm less anxious and more experienced than the year before. Our supplies were gathered and we were set. Charlie took the opportunity to gain some sympathy weight and put on a few extra pounds...

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By the end of March the snow had melted and we jumped right into lambing: Eleanor welcomed triplets and we would have 30 lambs born by the end of April. For the first time we experienced the inevitable loss of a lamb that failed to thrive.

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:: April kept us busy as ever with lambs galore and the rush to fix, build, problem solve and so on before the milking season began

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:: By May we welcomed a new ram, Henry along with the fresh green pastures.

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:: Milking and cheese making began and over the next six months we made 40 batches of cheese

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In June the grasses were lush and tasty but the rains stopped. By July we were in the middle of a full scale drought that would be the worst our area would see in over a century. Temperatures soared and we kept our fingers crossed our farm well could continue to supply the house, cheese factory, 56 sheep, 2 llamas, and 30+ cattle.

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August flew by with an unexpected off-farm gig, wedding planning galore and our first foray into marketing when we attended our very first farmers market in Kemptville and a few weeks later in Westboro where we met many new faces and lots of cheese-lovers.

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In September we celebrated and the rains returned with four thunderstorms rolling through on the morning of our wedding. As farmers I don't think we could have complained about the rain so we feasted and danced the night away anyway.

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By October our farmers markets were winding down and we welcomed another 12 sheep to our flock. Around the same time a funny little kitten (later named Pippin) was dropped off at the farm.

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The snows returned in November and our year had come full circle as we settled into our winter routine with the sheep once again. The last of the seasons cheeses were sold up to hungry customers at the Christmas Markets in December and we hosted, feasted, and gathered with family and friends for the holidays.

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We were blessed with many successes to look back on in 2012 and are eagerly awaiting all that the next year has in store. Here's hoping for lots of lambs, lots of cheese, lots of laughs and much to celebrate for all of us in 2013!