Monday, 27 September 2010
A Visit to Erbcroft Farms
Our next stop was Erbcroft Farms, home of sheep, chickens, ducks, horses and pygmy goats. There was some mention of a llama I'm pretty sure, but we didn't see one. The sheep are fairly mixed breeding; Suffolk cross and North Country Cheviot predominating.
Erbcroft Farms has been in the family for 4 generations, but until Tim & Luann took it over it was a cash crop farm. They still grow those, but the animals have become a very important part of the farm.
Chickens roam the yard, supplementing their diet with bugs and seeds.
Two 9-day old lambs who's mother is unable to nurse them are thriving on milk from a local dairy sheep farm. The milk is in a tub outfitted with "nipples" so that the lambs can nurse when they like; a simple thing but it makes taking care of lambs that need to be hand-raised so much easier because like other babies, they need to nurse often and with no regard to anyone else's convenience.
Two kinds of ducks, Rouen and Muscovy, hang out at the creek.
When called, the sheep came thundering up to the fence. The Erbs have about 120 ewes now; eventually they would like to double the number.
Lamb can be ordered as a freezer order from the farm, or purchased at the Mitchell Farmers Market as lamb sausage. We had some samples of the sausage, with it flavoured with Luann Erbs own blend of herbs - very delicate and tasty!
It's a sad fact that there is little point in shearing the sheep if it can be avoided. The last time they sheared their sheep they paid $500 and received $189 for the wool; that's .02 cents per pound. There just isn't much of a market for wool any more.
One of the Erb children collects eggs from the chicken pen as one of the farm tourers watches.
The poultry are all trained to return to the barn at night for safety.
There are also some very charming pygmy goats on the farm.
Finally we went into the barn where the pregnant ewes are being watched. Our timing was amazing; we arrived just in time to see 2 newly born lambs still being licked clean and thinking about standing up. Unfortunately I don't have a picture as my camera chose THAT MOMENT to run out of batteries. It was definitely one of the highlights of the tour though!