Lil Flock Farm
We are Dave & Theresa, blessed parents of six (plus one) wonderful children and newbie farmers. (The one has passed on before us to her eternal rest and we are grateful to have her watching over our bumbling progress here below from her place of peace and light with our Lord.) After a good number of prodigal years spent pursuing Dave's 'higher education,' including time in Edmonton and a decade in the Ottawa area, we returned a few years ago, back to our families and our Alberta roots. We are excited to be launching our first year of production on our brand new farmstead this year. We've had a variety of animals for a number of years now, and after years of hobby gardening we are trying our hand at a Market Garden this year. Dave's focus is on the plants, while Theresa stays busy as 'mama to them all' -- animals, kids, and of course beloved hubby.
We are blessed to own 106 beautiful acres bordering the west bank of the meandering Dogpound Creek. Last year (2021) we started with a blank slate of cultivated land along with around forty acres of well-preserved native brush and vegetation down in the flood plain of the creek. Starting in March, we built a house and shop, and moved in in the fall. We continue to be a work very much in progress, developing shelter belts, an orchard, and vegetable gardens, as well as a hay field and pastures for our little flock of sheep and herd of cows.
We have a small but steadily growing flock of Icelandic Sheep. Icelandics are a small but hardy breed that finishes well on grass alone. They are one of the world's oldest breeds and haven't changed much since the Vikings first brought them to Iceland over 1000 years ago. They have few problems birthing and great mothering instincts. They are a triple purpose breed, good for meat, milk, and fiber. We mostly raise them for their meat, which has a reputation for being exceptionally mild-tasting and tender. We hope to expand into fiber and milk products (soap!) as well. The sheep are well-guarded from predators -- mainly coyotes, although cougars, wolves, bears, and even the odd wolverine(!) have been known to visit the area -- by our trusty trio of LGDs (livestock guardian dogs).
We also keep a small herd of breeding cows, including Highlands, British Whites, and Black Angus. The Angus are of course a staple of the Alberta beef industry, and the iconic long-horned Highlands and pretty British Whites add some Heritage Breed variety to the herd. The cows keep us well supplied with manure for compost for both the garden and orchard.
We plan to use rotational grazing to maximize the health and resilience of the soil -- and the forage growing on it -- in our pastures. The bottom grazing cows pass through first, and the top grazing sheep follow behind. The magic happening here (at least in theory!) is that the cows passing through first naturally helps to reduce the parasite load for the more parasite-sensitive sheep that follow.
With spring on the way, we are looking forward to the excitement of lambing and calving season in short order!
We love the ethic and aesthetic of the small scale, reduced mechanization, organic compost-fed Market Garden. We have been inspired by the pioneering work of market gardeners like Jean-Martin Fortier (Quebec), Richard Perkins (Sweden), and Curtis Stone (BC). We love variety and experimentation, but our focus will be on providing a reliable veg supply for our CSA customers (Community Supported Agriculture). Throughout the progression of the growing season, we will harvest a variety of fresh, delicious, nutritious, naturally-grown vegetables that are well-suited for our climate: from a variety of leafy greens, to peas and beans, carrots and potatoes, squash, tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and more.
In addition to the Market Garden, we also love trees and fruit. We really admire what the Hamer's have done with their amazing setup just south of Calgary, The Saskatoon Farm, and we hope we can channel some of their vibe. Besides growing saskatoon berries -- perhaps the quintessential prairie fruit -- we are excited to find out what other fruits will work for us here on the prairie. Trees and fruit production are necessarily a long-term project, but we're excited to get the ball rolling this spring by planting over a thousand seedlings, including a few dozen different species and varieties of trees and shrubs, for shelter, berries, fruit, and of course for our friends the birds and bees!