The Ice House history is an interesting one. Before electricity came to the Island during WWII, farmers who milked cows had a dilemma. They had to keep the milk cool before hauling it by horse and buggy or wagon to one of the two Island cheese factories. Our farming predecessors cut lake ice in the winter in big blocks and stored it in the small building, packed with sawdust to keep the milk cold as the ice melted. When we took over the farm in 1971, the old ice house with its dirt floor was showing its age. It had become just a place to store stuff too good to throw out. Needing a work shop for machine repair, we poured...
Alice, Bill, David, Ian and Randi purchased the farm on the northwest corner of Amherst Island on December 31st, 1971. Seeking a different lifestyle, we formed a commune called Headlands Community. We planned to tear down the old barn to build a geodesic dome, move in, sell the farmhouse, and pay off the mortgage.
Farm volunteers make a huge difference in the workload at Topsy Farms. This is particularly so during the lambing season, when we welcome so many visitors. (There were 1156 this year in 22 days.) Their task is to ensure every person who comes has a chance to learn and to enjoy. They also need to […]
My first memory of bee keeping is hazy. Here’s my father pulling a frame from a brood box perhaps in 1948 – the year that we left our farm in PEI. I’m sure that I would have been underfoot during the extraction. Dad didn’t have bees in Ontario, as there was a mountain of work […]
This is the story of how an old granary transformed into our shearing floor – recycling on a grand scale. In the late ‘80’s, our rapidly growing sheep farm needed a proper shearing floor area. Our sheep deserve the top quality shearers; for efficiency, the workers need an adequate setup. Our farmers investigated other Canadian […]
We had a tractor fire in one of our old Allis-Chalmers, but we were lucky. We narrowly missed burning down our workshop. A huge cloud of smoke, then flames, shot up from the workshop as the ewe lambs and farmers moved down the road towards the barn. Will stashed the sheep; Christopher moved vehicles; Kyle […]
There is a healthy trend here of people moving back home to Amherst Island. Many have come back home to raise their families. Twelve young adults of our sons’ and daughter’s generation who’d left for education and a broader scope of life, have chosen to return to Amherst Island. In a total population about 450, […]
Increasing weather extremes are having a major impact on our sheep farm, and farms world-wide. This era of increasing mono-culture, single crop production makes farmers more vulnerable to weather extremes. In the past, farms were more diversified so that each year, some of what they produced was more likely to succeed. Ian says “Crop […]
At a farm meeting, our head shepherd Christopher asked “should we keep our ram lambs intact”? We had already started raising a small group of Suffolk rams for our own breeding use, as we had difficulty locating high-quality rams that had been pasture-raised. Barn-raised rams are not sufficiently hardy for our farm. We’re always seeking […]
Sheep are smart – don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes. Their survival drive ensures they can learn almost anything that matters to them. People say disparagingly that someone “follows like sheep”. At times that is appropriate. Usually a wise old ewe takes the lead when we move the flock. She follows those […]
About Topsy Farms
14775 Front Road Stella, ON, K0H 2S0