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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 insurance and other government programs are now just one more tool in the tool box. Some years on the old farms you were poor and other years you were really poor”.
For quite a while, we’ve had relatively stable weather patterns.
It makes it very hard to plan. Our sheep and dogs live on pasture year-round. It is a healthier, more ethical farming practise we believe. Our lamb, yearling, and mutton is in high demand. However…
Despite having more next-generation labour and working long hours, we all seem to be scrambling mightily just to get done what is needed. (Building our Wool Shed last year from scratch in late summer/fall added another element of pressure.)
At Topsy Farms during 2016’s severe drought:
At Topsy during this year’s wet spring and summer:
Different vegetables, herbs and fruits reacting differently to hot dry, then cooler, wet years. We still managed to put food by.
From early May through August we rarely had 2 sequential days dry. Lake Ontario water was very high, but that affected us less than many others. Our fields were soaked. We made bad ruts when feeding sheep and when trying to cut and bale hay. In some we couldn’t make bales. There were many more than usual machine breakdowns as they were working harder in wet conditions.
Increasingly, the only ‘normal’ is abnormality. Just like our ancestors, we simply have to learn to adapt to weather extremes in order to survive.