Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Category: Pets and Farm Animals (page 2 of 2)

I’m not using the term “livestock” even though, yes, on farms, live animals are profitable inventory. Livestock usually implies that they’re going to go to market to be slaughtered and turned into food themselves. While small farms can be wonderful places even when that is their objective, and I support that, it’s not my objective. I like animals alive and appreciate them that way.

Labour Day weekend road trip to the Eastern Townships and Brome Fair

I went to the Eastern Townships for Labour Day weekend to get a good hike in at Mont Mégantic (I also visited Lac Mégantic for one of their evening benefit shows at Musi-Café, the bar that was blown up during the train derailment in August). This was the view, in the distance, of the nearby village Nôtre-Dame-des-Bois from a lookout point on the way up Mont St.-Joseph. The road seen is the access road to the park.

In La Patrie, where I was staying, the bunnies decided the most familiar and comfortable place to hang out was under my car.

Look at that relaxed rabbit. Just look at her. Punk.

In a Sherbrooke parking lot, this lovely plant was blooming and a bumble bee fertilizing all of its flowers. I would love to know what the name of it is (Policeman’s Bonnet, or Himilayan Balsam, an invasive species), and I’d like to get some seeds (I later was given the plant. The bees loved it, but it took over my backyard).

Back in Stanstead,  cows doing what hippos do, in an overfertilized pond. Don’t drink that water, girls.

After taking the Vermont route through Derby Line and Newport up to the Quebec border at Mansonville, I finally got to the big Brome Fair at Knowlton.

I took many pictures of the home canning, gardens, baking and crafts section, but here is one category I would like to enter in next year: the mixed garden basket.

I would also like to enter the category for best Jamiroquai chicken, but chickens are not allowed in Montreal (except Rosemont) and I’ve already got my hands full with the aforementioned punks.

Some more birds I’d like to be in possession of, especially with my miniscule woods-and-pond:

In the general category I’d like to enter the punks in next year (rabbits and guinea pigs) just because I can, I found a very very large and sleepy Holland Lop. Now I know what breed Elizabeth is at least half of.

When I was a girl on the farm, we once got some fertilized eggs for our pet goose. She hatched three white geese and three African geese, like these:

The sheep section was interesting to see – some full wool, some recently shorn. Some so recently shorn, they had to wear little suits to be comfortable and protected.  Here’s a sheep with a very relaxed demeanor:

And two more, a different breed, who look quite curious (or hungry and waiting. Please keep your hands out of their pen. Management not responsible for injuries.)

A cow and calf from a Charolais beef farm:

An Ayrshire from a dairy farm. I find it interesting that the cartography of her spots seem to depict the limits of the sovereign seas!

And the big draw on a Saturday night: the midway.

Heritage breed of Shropshire sheep threatened with eradication

Near a little Ontario town, east of Peterborough and north of Cobourg, there is a farm that specializes in a rare heritage breed of sheep called Shropshire. It is being threatened with eradication for prophylactic reasons. The Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has targeted the farm and its sheep for having a genotype that makes them susceptible – which means easy to infect – to a prion disease called “scrapie.” It doesn’t infect humans (like bovine spongiform encephalitis morphs into Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), and it doesn’t morph into other forms of prion disease, but if a flock has it, it can persist. The known primary vector for transmission is through birth and contact with placental tissues.

One sheep from this flock succumbed to scrapie in Alberta, which is how this farm ended up in the cross hairs of the CFIA. The rest of this flock tested negative for the disease, and every effort was made to prevent this disease and to comply with the CFIA, short of killing them.

The death date is this week. Today there was a rally at the farm to save the Shrops. Awareness and popularity of this issue are the only things that may help at this point. Governments have a history of putting animals to death, beyond any argument.

Visit the Shrops site. Sign the petition. Send a letter to your Member of Parliament, even if it’s a short one.

Breaking news – Several sheep went missing overnight. Stolen? Likely. The farm’s owner refused to allow the CFIA to send the bodies of the sheep the CFIA wants to kill to a rendering plant. It’s illogical: it’s fine to kill healthy animals on suspicion of harboring scrapie, but if they actually harbored scrapie (which they don’t, this was overruled by tests), they’d still be made into pet food?

Update on further research:This appears to be an exercise of the Government of Canada saying “We’re #1!” They’ve allocated a few million dollars to eradicate scrapie by eradicating the sheep, so that they can then say “Canada is scrapie-free!” Which also implies that once the CFIA has succeeded with the eradication program, people won’t be able to import sheep into Canada, .

Update again: And the human spirit rises in response! A group calling itself the “Farmers Peace Corp” has acted, at great risk of criminal liability, to do the right thing. Read the article in the Globe and Mail here.

Here they are on Facebook: Shared post

2016 update: the sheep were sadly located and slaughtered. None tested positive for scrapie. But the Crown dropped the charges against the shepherd and people involved in the sheep-napping. The Shropshire sheep website is down, and the farmer likely does not have a new herd.

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