We live on the edge of what is known as Boreal Forest Country. The farm is situated in Woodlands County which surrounds Whitecourt , Alberta, Canada. The main industry around us is oil and lumber with several prominent mills in the area. Our land “Grey Wooded Area” not especially loamy, lots of rocks but well suited for grazing livestock. Crops can be grown especially along old river flats that cut across the land. Like most the unpredictable weather is making growing anything quite tricky.
Things can change in a heartbeat as I found out. We now have only the Katahdin Sheep and most of the farm land is rented out. My Grandchildren and son and his partner, live on the farm and are learning the ins and outs of sheep farming. The two boys had a lamb each for 4H last year and are keen to do it again. I can now pick and choose my feed for winter and still have barley grain that will last a while longer.
The Katahdin is a meat sheep only with the thick winter coat shedding in the spring. It can be a bit messy at times when it is very dry but the fibre shed in Spring, is protein and as such returns to the soil as fertilizer. I don’t have to worry about finding someone to shear my sheep and the udder and belly stay much cleaner than a full coated wool sheep.
My Katahdins are bred for mothering, easy lambing and carcass qualities. They are a registered flock with the “Canadian Sheep Breeders Association” through “Canadian Livestock Records”. We formed “Canadian Katahdin Sheep Society” (www.katahdinsheep.com) to maintain the interest in the breed and handle the coat grading still needed to register lambs from registered parents . I needed an easy care medium sized breed that I could look after myself and this breed does it all very well. It is just as well as the Grandkids have grown up with the sheep and are comfortable handling and doing the necessary along the way.
We have Livestock Guardian Dogs (Lisa and Dozer) protecting our sheep and cows and without their watchful eyes, we would not be able to keep sheep for sure. Three alpacas also keep a watchful eye on the horizon. Although not much good at attacking anything, they provide the dogs with another watch system. Their bugle calls are often heard when some poor coyote takes an “innocent” walk through the top fields. A moose gave them a panic attack but it was a field over and the dogs don’t get too close to moose so maybe they experienced a protective mother at some time.
We have had many LGD’s over the years and feel they are the best protection you can give your sheep make sure you get yours from a farm where they were born in or near the sheep barn.
With the passing years and changes on the farm, the number of Katahdin Sheep kept has been cut back on. Still it helps to sort the keepers and the lambs seem to be doing well over the last two years.
We don’t know what is in store for us future wise and as I found out the best laid plans can change so I make each day count if I can and try to take it easy for a bit.
I am always good to email and chat sheep.