New Year, New Adventures

This year, 2015, is going to be pretty exciting for us for a number of reasons. I’ll say more about that soon, but right now, I want to focus on our new co-farmers, Delilah and Bob.

Bob and Delilah geting to know each other.
Bob and Delilah geting to know each other.

Bob, is a beautiful, 6 month old Maremma pup. We felt we would need a livestock dog this year so just before Christmas 2014 we acquired Bob. Bob had been living with some students in a residence. Why they bought him I have no idea, but we bought him off of them. We chose the Maremma as they were the friendliest livestock dog according to what I read, like small animals, and stayed close to the flock, they didn’t wander as much as the Great Pyrenees.

Bob, not too sure what the woolie behind him is going to do.
Bob, not too sure what the woolie behind him is going to do.

A puppy challenging, but leaving him out side in the barn, in winter, with the sheep is heartbreaking despite having 12″ of straw and an insulated, heated cubby to sleep in. I spent many hours outside making sure he had a warm cozy place to hide in -20 weather. He did, I tested it:)

Getting through puppy stage and not having him maul the sheep is also trying. Livestock dogs don’t reach maturity until around 2, and then only just. They are large dogs, 100 or so pounds, hence they mature slowly.

Maremmas and other livestock dogs are SMART! Almost too smart sometimes. They are always watching and taking notice of what is going on. You can see their brains processing information.

A had read and been told a few times that having two livestock dogs is much better than one. After a couple of months of Bob living outside on his own, with sheep, and generally turning poor 8 year old Beauty into his playground (poor Beauty was very patient with him, but little sharp teeth were wearing on her) a decision was made. If a mature dog came up that was trained, friendly, and liked other animals we would see if we could buy it. If it was a Maremma/ G.Pyrenees X even better.

Delilah, in the truck being as good as gold.
Delilah, in the truck being as good as gold.

Well, not 12 hours after saying that to my neighbour, I found an dog needing a home – Delilah. Delilah’s people sold their sheep and tried to keep her as a house dog because she was just so sweet. But, Delilah wasn’t adjusting well to indoor life and really missed being outdoors and having a job. They were looking for a working farm to rehome her. So I went to see her ASAP. We seemed to bond at first sight. She was playful, friendly, and super excited to see me, not sure why. The previous owner and I loader her into the truck and home she came.

Bob and Delilah geting to know each other.
Bob and Delilah geting to know each other.


It was amazing watching all three dogs meet and begin to play. Luckily both Bob and Beauty love other dogs.  At first Delilah was hesitant, but within the hour she was running, playing, and smiling. She seemed so happy! She has found her last home:)

Delilah hanging with the sheep.
Delilah hanging with the sheep.

She and Bob now live in the barn and have boned rather well. Delilah tires Bob out and vice versa. They can both settle down, watch sheep, and chew on chew toys.

Bob was neutered yesterday and Delilah will be going in next. This was a decision we made form the get go. We raise sheep, not dogs. There are enough livestock dogs out there that we don’t need to add to the mix.

Form left to right: Beauty, the house dog, Bob, the Maremma, and Delilah, the Maremma/G.Pyrenees X
Form left to right: Beauty, the house dog, Bob, the Maremma, and Delilah, the Maremma/G.Pyrenees X

Next year we get my lifelong dream dog – a border collie!


Sunchokes for sale

Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichoke tubers. Great for eating and for planting. They are a perennial native sunflower.
Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichoke tubers. Great for eating and for planting. They are a perennial native sunflower.

We have sun chokes for sale at $3/lb for a limited time. They are an incredibly versatile food that are a great change from potatoes.


This sounds like a great recipe that I think we will have for dinner tonight but with quinoa instead of faro.

A recipe from

Sunchoke-Kale Hash with Farro

© Con Poulos

Sunchoke-Kale Hash with Farro

  • ACTIVE: 40 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 10

Comfort food is rarely healthy, or vegetarian. This soul-satisfying winter hash is both. The recipe from F&W Best New Chefs 2009 Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, of Animal and Son of a Gun in Los Angeles, combines crispy sunchokes, silky oyster mushrooms, tender kale and chewy farro. It’s wonderful served with grilled steak or on its own as a meatless main course.


  1. 3/4 cup farro
  2. 2 1/2 pounds large sunchokes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  3. Salt
  4. 1 pound Tuscan kale, tough stems discarded
  5. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil blended with 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  6. 1 small red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, halved if large
  9. Freshly ground pepper


  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the farro with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat until the farro is tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the farro.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the sunchokes with water and add a pinch of salt. Boil until the sunchokes are tender, 10 minutes; drain. Slice the sunchokes 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Fill the large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add the Tuscan kale and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the kale and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the kale leaves and then coarsely chop them.
  4. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 12 minutes.
  5. In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of the blended oil. Add the sunchokes in an even layer and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the sunchokes, reduce the heat to moderately high and continue cooking until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Push the sunchokes to the side of the skillet.
  6. Add 1 more tablespoon of the oil and the oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil along with the farro, kale and onion and cook, stirring, until hot. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 one day ahead; refrigerate the components separately.


Melon-scented, full-bodied Chenin Blanc.

Sheep and the City

Recently we had one of the most interesting and strangest experiences with our sheep. A few weeks ago, we got a phone call out of the blue from a woman in Ottawa who I had chatted to a year or so previous. She had just won a contest (I’ll write about that later) sponsored by Smart Car called (the smart city project) for her idea for a sustainable future. her idea, sheep lawn mowing. She had sheep herself and loved the idea of using sheep as lawn mowers. Part of her prize included a professional video shoot of her idea in action. Unfortunately she wasn’t in a position to use her sheep. After a search for sheep lawn mowing in Ontario she found us. In essence, we were asked if we wanted to bring our sheep into the city for a day and be in a commercial and film shoot to help promote her sustainable idea.

The film crew debating the best angle for a shot.
The film crew debating the best angle for a shot.

Sheep lawn mowing is something that we have had some experience with. For the past 2 summers we have been actively researching what we need to effectively make our sheep portable so we can do conservation grazing in and around the city. There were lots of challenges, but along with our sheep, we seem to have overcome them. Being asked to bring the sheep into the city to graze for a commercial was a big test of what we thought we could do. A BIG TEST!


The delicate art of sheep shearing

Jennifer shearing a lamb whose wool was very "sticky" making it hard to get the shears through the wool.
Jennifer shearing a lamb whose wool was very “sticky” making it hard to get the shears through the wool.

Sheep shearing is without a doubt an VERY skilled profession that doesn’t get NEARLY enough credit. Shearers are a VERY skilled crew. How do I know? Well, I just finished an introductory sheep shearing class with PDK Shearing or better known as Peter Kedulka. His co-teachers were Randy Coulas, Doug Kennedy, and Tom Redpath all excellent shearers. I have to give them a HUGE thank you for dealing with this more than slightly bumbling lefty shearer:)

Unless you are a shepherd, wool buyer, or die-hard fibre fanatic, you probably haven’t considered how sheep are shorn. You may have come across a shearing demonstration at a fall fair, livestock show, fleece festival, or maybe even on you tube. Generally the sheep just sits there. it looks quite easy, besides, the sheep doesn’t seem to mind do they, most of the time they are just sitting there.

Shearing truly is a dance between sheep and shearer, but most of the dance is unseen. It is often a little movement of the toe, a half inch step to the right that really makes a difference. Shearing is truly knowing how to handle sheep like no other animal handler out there. Heck, most of us can’t even get our dog to sit up on it’s haunches if we want it to.


Lambie, lambies, spring is springing

The MOST wonderful time of year for me is spring. Not only is the world waking up form a long winter dormancy, but it is the traditional time for lambs. I consider this one of the wonders of the farming world.

Few creatures truly embody spring the way lambs do. Up until recently, most of our sheep in Canada were based on mostly British, and some European breeds. The majority of these breeds bred once a year. Like their wild counterparts these sheep mate when the day begin getting shorter for a short time. After a 5 month winter gestation they all have lambs at roughly the same time (depending on the breed). Both here, The US, and the UK, thousands of farmers are all going through the same thing – watching and waiting for lambs to be born.

Lambing is not a passive activity. We are not at the point where it is a major disruption (although I do have daydreams about that sometimes), but lambing can be a really big deal.

Ideally every shepherd hopes every ewe to deliver healthy happy lambs with ease. We try and breed for it. But, even the best ewes can run into issues from a breech birth, to entangled twins. James Herriot managed to get across the challenges of lambing in his vet stories based in the Yorkshire Dales, it became visual in the amazing All Creatures Great and Small television series of the  70’s and 80’s.

Despite the potential heartache and pain of lambing, the joy outweighs it immensely. There is NOTHING like seeing lambs gambolling the spring sunshine and they falling in a heap fast asleep. The amazing thing is that each lamb has it’s own personality that can be evident from birth. SOme of our lambs are skittish, some are people friendly right away. We have found that the personality don’ts change much over time.

Lamb pecking order happens pretty quickly. Often we can tell which ones will be trouble, which ones follow, and which ones don’t want to leave Mum.

As we have so many more sheep this year, bough in with our friend Roger, we have already had more lamb than in the past. Hopefully when lambing is finished we will have a total of 14 lambs.Hopefully at least half will be ewes!


Grass-fed lamb & local wool