Farm volunteers make a huge difference in the workload at Topsy Farms. This is particularly so during the lambing season, when we welcome so many visitors. (There were 1156 this year in 22 days.) Their task is to ensure every person who comes has a chance to learn and to enjoy. They also need to protect the needs of the very young lambs. Here are stories of those who came this year.
Sue Caron says “I like it here”. Sue is 71, has a fused back and moves around slowly with the help of a walker. For three years, Sue has been one of the farm volunteers, giving a week of her time to help with the foster lamb operation. She shares retail duties in the Wool Shed, greets and directs visitors, spends quality time nurturing lambs and ends her day doing the night-time dishes.
Why does she keep coming back year after year for these long days of back-breaking work?
“As one of the farm volunteers, I find peace and tranquility in the setting.
I get joy out of feeding the lambs. I hurt by the end of the day, but the reward of seeing a lamb revive and thrive makes it all worth it”.
This past year, Sue has been dealing with some particularly heavy grief and being back on the farm as one of the volunteers, has helped her lighten the burden she carries.
Denver Genereaux is a 13 year old grade 8 student, and has a grandad who lives and farms cattle on Amherst Island. Denver hopes to one day follow in his grandad’s footsteps and become a farmer himself. With this goal in mind, he approached his future high school to receive permission to gain school credits by volunteering on the farm.
Denver came to Topsy to gain experience working with sheep and lambs. This past April, he joined the Topsy team during the shearing process.
“I like being around people and I like animals.
The animals were so calm, so well handled during shearing.
I was eager to help this weekend with foster lambs to gain experience working with sheep and lambs. I like the people at Topsy Farms – the way they welcome me”.
Adèle Crôteau is in her forties and works as a public servant in Ottawa. She has no prior farming experience. She’s a five-year cancer survivor and mom of two young children. She responded to a post on Instagram, seeking farm volunteers to come and help during lambing season. Her husband always encouraged her to find ‘her thing’. Well, she found it with Topsy!
“I always felt I belonged somewhere else than in a cubicle. I’ve always loved animals, could spend quality time with family in Napanee,so using some of my vacation days to come up to Topsy Farms was a no-brainer. My mom’s passing 10 years ago, taught me to stop putting things off, to do them now and live each day as your last. Each Christmas, my mom gifted my sisters and me with her handmade mittens. This became my goal, mittens for my sisters. I was entranced by the yarn resources of the Wool Shed.
My own cancer battle in 2013 further showed me the value of living in the now.
As an army brat I’ve always been cautious of new people and situations, so I never knew that strangers could become family so quickly. I now have a family in Topsy and I will be back.”
Shelley Dyet is a mom of 3 homeschooled adults, has worked with her husband on their own business, and is very active in the scouting movement, world-wide. She and her husband are considering buying a small farm and moving to a simpler lifestyle. Her mother’s sudden death a few years ago emphasized for her the importance of not postponing important life decisions. When she learned of the opportunity to work with Topsy Farms, she felt it would be a good chance to gain some farming skills and to test the environment personally. She chose to join the volunteers working with the lambs and people.
“When you live in a world that is driven by instant gratification and consumerism, sitting inside a barn feeding lambs cleanses the soul.
My heart was literally swelling within my chest. The whole experience has fuelled my need for a simpler, more authentic life.”
Topsy Farms’ visitors and farm volunteers find healing when they connect to the land and to the animals. We’ve welcomed those struggling with addictions, with depression, with illness, with exhaustion of spirit and body, with a wide range of physical damage and challenges and almost all have found some comfort. We’re also glad to welcome groups seeking family fun and togetherness.