A Letter from Home - Aug 2020

Kubota tractor making Topsy Farms' large round bales in a field at sunset

Hello family,

The June grass was glorious: lush and plentiful. Even now in mid-August things are green. The Lighthouse pasture regrowth is stunning: the yellows, blues, and purples are out of this world. One must remind oneself that there is anything wrong in the world when the west wind tickles the clover and fills a nose with fragrance.

2020 is the year of learning from past mistakes. In many cases, we have actually been "on it". Example, in late May, pastures were trimmed the same day sheep moved on to the next field. We had one hay cutter going while lambing was still happening. What forage they left behind was actually worth baling in many cases (for drought hay at the very least). Ian spent hours pounding away with first Brutus and then the Straight Pipe. Brutus blew a coolant gasket and is just now back running again. Will worked hard getting this repair done. It was weeks into haying before we got two cutters working simultaneously. We purchased a used New Holland cutter from Clows and a new Kubota mower (it doesn't have a conditioner and simply lays all the hay flat). 1335 round bales is our take from the year; many fields offered 75% greater yields than 2019. The haying letter grade would have been an "A" if we had built shelters for the equipment last year.

Topsy Farms' ewes and lambs grazing in a green pasture with the sun setting behind leafy green trees in the background

The sheep are in excellent health; the shepherds have kept parasites and limping to a minimum. Since May, the predation has been easing. We got hit hard and early, losing many young lambs. We have run out a mass of barbed wire (continuing Chris' plan for the boundary fence). We are also working on a knee height off-set hot wire.

Our Victory Garden campaign was a great success. 20 gardens in 30 days; 8500 sq.f of new growth potential. Kubota head office is allowing us to hold on to the gear a little longer, although the mini garden tractor (Kata) was reclaimed. The loader we call Renshi is our new raking tractor - A/C and radio...hardly even farming anymore lol. The track loader (Sumo) is digging out wet areas and prepping for culverts. The New Barn has been cleaned out and the barnyard has been scraped into piles (still needs to be run through the spreader). The dump trailer has hauled countless loads of shot-rock purchased from the company who built that section of Front Road. The drainage work we've been doing will be a generational change. Already a vehicle could drive the farm perimeter without getting tires muddy and there is still more rock to haul.

Kubota skid steer parked on a walking path through the forest at Topsy Farms

We have turned our attention to infrastructure. More drainage. Building repairs. The yurt (currently occupied by Colette Wigmore) is getting an open kitchen building with a steel roof. The Wool Shed under Leah's supervision is doing rocking good business. We have much greater retail potential now that we are open to the public again.

We think of you often as you are always in our hearts; the work you've done to help us reach this place cannot be overstated.

We are where we are because of you.

We love you.

On behalf of the team,