Dry Stone Wall

  Topsy Farms wanted a dry stone wall, so we invited Dry Stone Canada to hold its annual festival here on the farm this past September. The plan: to harvest stones from our farmland to build a functional barnyard wall. Field stones are a staple of modern, urban...

Farm Volunteers

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...

Bee Keeping

My first memory of bee keeping is hazy. Here’s my father pulling a frame from a brood box perhaps in 1948 – the year that we left our farm in PEI. I’m sure that I would have been underfoot during the extraction. Dad didn’t have bees in Ontario, as there was a mountain...

Old Granary Transformed

This is the story of how an old granary transformed into our shearing floor – recycling on a grand scale. In the late ‘80’s, our rapidly growing sheep farm needed a proper shearing floor area. Our sheep deserve the top quality shearers; for efficiency, the workers...

Adoptive Parents of Topsy Foster Lambs

What folks become adoptive parents for our vulnerable babies – and what does that mean? We birth a large number of lambs on pasture every year (nearly 1400 in the past couple of years). With all those babies, there are inevitably troubles. We ‘rescue’ from our own...

Tractor Fire

We had a tractor fire in one of our old Allis-Chalmers, but we were lucky. We narrowly missed burning down our workshop. A huge cloud of smoke, then flames, shot up from the workshop as the ewe lambs and farmers moved down the road towards the barn. Will stashed the...

Snowy Owls

About 25 Snowy Owls are on Amherst Island, mid-January, 2018. You will find a Snowy Owl by open fields, sometimes on the ground; other times perched up high. Most often people sight them at the Township Roads office on the Stella Forty Foot, at the Bird Sanctuary on...

Back Home

There is a healthy trend here of people moving back home to Amherst Island. Many have come back home to raise their families. Twelve young adults of our sons’ and daughter’s generation who’d left for education and a broader scope of life, have chosen to return to...

Weather Extremes Impact Farming

  Increasing weather extremes are having a major impact on our sheep farm, and farms world-wide. This era of increasing mono-culture, single crop production makes farmers more vulnerable to weather extremes. In the past, farms were more diversified so that each year,...

Ram Lambs Intact?

At a farm meeting, our head shepherd Christopher asked “should we keep our ram lambs intact”? We had already started raising a small group of Suffolk rams for our own breeding use, as we had difficulty locating high-quality rams that had been pasture-raised. ...

Looks Nice, but I’m Allergic to Wool

Several visitors have come into our Wood Shed, hands firmly in pockets, saying “This is nice but I’m allergic to wool.” They like the look, the smell, and even the cautiously-tested feel of the wool products. However, they have experienced rashes and discomfort in the...
Canada 150 Plus

Canada 150 Plus

Canada 150 Plus recognizes that the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, predates confederation by millennia. Topsy Farms is proud to have its products used and valued by many First Nations groups and individuals, as well as in events that celebrate Canada’s...

Sheep are Smart

Sheep are smart – don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes. Their survival drive ensures they can learn almost anything that matters to them. People say disparagingly that someone “follows like sheep”. At times that is appropriate. Usually a wise old ewe takes...

Green Tourism Canada Certification

We applied for Green Tourism Canada Certification this winter. A branch of Green Tourism International, Green Tourism Canada promotes ecotourism by : • Encouraging tourist-oriented organizations to examine and improve their carbon footprint. • Helping eco-minded...

Permaculture at Topsy Farms

We practice permaculture at Topsy Farms because it makes sense. The shallow land and Island context sets limits to what works without damage or erosion. The farm we bought in 1971 is located on the west end of Amherst Island in Lake Ontario. The shallow, drought-prone...

PREPPING THE SHEARING FLOOR

Our shearing floor is cluttered. It is piled high, 362 days of the year, with inventory for our Wool Shed. There’s no room for the sheep or shearers. Over 200 blankets take up lots of room, not to mention the pure wool woven throws and lap robes.   A year’s supply of...
Dreaming about Wool Pillows

Dreaming about Wool Pillows

Wool Pillows enhance sleep. There are lots of reasons for that claim: • Wool breathes. It traps lots of air, so it is actually cooler in summer as well as warmer in winter. It helps the body temperature stay at a comfort level, unlike fibrefill or other artificial...

Lamb Shanks or Necks Make Great Soup

Buying a half lamb for the first time, with lamb shanks or necks included, can be a challenge to those who usually cook only chops or roasts. (Shanks are the upper part of front legs.) One of our lamb customers presented us with this fine recipe, great for winter...

Chemical Free Homemade Dog Food

We’ve started making chemical free homemade dog food for our hard-working dogs. Five guardian dogs live outdoors year-round, working hardest at nights to patrol and protect our flock of sheep. During cold winters, dogs need extra nutrients and digestible fats....

Family-built Wool Shed

Our family-built Wool Shed is complete and open for visitors. Success! This example shines, in an increasingly ‘big box’, mass-produced world. Rural communities are eroding, farms disappearing. Support from our friends, neighbours, municipalities and province has...

Crafting Shearling Sheepskins

We are introducing Crafting Shearling Sheepskins in response to significant demand. All shearling sheepskins are chosen for the highest density of wool; the thickest loft, then trimmed to the desired length of staple, from 8 mm to 25 mm, standing up like a dense...

Tear Down Our Wool Shed Store ?

The Township told Topsy Farms we had to tear down our Wool Shed store to widen the road. What a shock! Our Wool Shed at Topsy Farms is housed in a former small milk house/ice house, built about 90 years ago on the edge of the narrow road, on the edge of the lake,...

Raw Wool Hits the Road

Raw wool transforms into wondrous things: Roving for weaving and spinning and needle-felting and stuffing Pure wool yarn – which can then become toys and sweaters and … Blankets and throws and lap robes Our shearing story describes how it gets from the sheep to...

Therapy Lambs

Ever heard of therapy lambs? This year Topsy Farms invited the public to bottle-feed and cuddle our baby lambs that needed help. (They were the smallest from 3 or even 4 lambs born to 1 ewe.) People came, spread the word, and we were booked, 11 hours per day for more...

KIDS PARTY – ANIMALS AND ACTION

Want to host a kids party – animals and action? Learning by doing! Small animals to cuddle! Space to play! Boat ride! Picnic! How can you beat that? Enjoy an outdoor venue at Topsy Farms in spring. Children can visit shearing in March or April (specific days...

Wool Throws and Lap Robes

Wool Throws and Lap Robes are again available at Topsy Farms. Lap Robes and Throws and our other wool bedding are made from a combination of the 6000 lbs of wool annually shorn from our sheep combined with others, then processed gently to retain natural lanolin. That...

Visit Amherst Island

Discover the many reasons why folks love to visit Amherst Island. It’s an old-fashioned traditional rural community, with lots to see and to do. It’s easy to visit Amherst Island A 2 – 3 hour drive from Ottawa or Toronto will bring you to our ferry....

Visit Foster Lambs at Topsy Farms

  VISIT FOSTER LAMBS FROM MID-MAY UNTIL EARLY JUNE   May 14 to June 5, 2016 Bring cameras, big and little kids and casual clothes Cuddle or bottle-feed a lamb See hundreds of lambs in nearby pastures $10/family www.topsyfarms.com  PHONE/EMAIL IN ADVANCE FOR AN...

Adopt a Foster Lamb

Adopt a Foster Lamb to help a baby lamb survive and thrive. Our flock of 1000 ewes birthed over 1400 lambs last year. About 30 – 35 lambs can’t stay with mama, and must be cared for. Otherwise, they’ll die. Will you help save a baby lamb? Do you want to be a...

HELPING BABIES WITH SLEEP ISSUES

Know babies with sleep issues? We do. We’ve been there. We’ve found a way to help babies with sleep issues. So often the restless sleeps of babies result from discomfort, inside and out. One reason is that there are usually so many plastic and rubber and other...

Needle-felted Sir John A. Macdonald

The Wool Shed at Topsy Farms was visited by a life-sized, needle-felted Sir John A. Macdonald. He is an amazingly realistic, life-sized, well-dressed sculpture, who rides in the front passenger seat of a car, or in an antique ‘push-chair’. He ‘lives’, much of the...

Foster Lambs Entertain Visitors

Two foster lambs entertain visitors to the Wool Shed at Topsy Farms each year. This year, from spring until Thanksgiving (when they retire to a smaller free-range farm) Wee Lassie and Littlefoot have helped make a visit to our farm  and to Amherst Island more...

Pure Wool Dryer Balls

Our popular pure wool dryer balls have many uses. When a person puts 3 in the dryer they will: fluff up laundry avoid the use of somewhat toxic dryer sheets reduce or remove static cling shorten dryer time, thus save you money David Suzuki recommends pure wool dryer...

Topsy Farms Products are Available Elsewhere

  Topsy Farms products are more fun to buy at the farm; more convenient to purchase on line. However, Topsy Farms products are available elsewhere too. Our excellent lamb is carried exclusively in Kingston by the Pig and Olive butcher store, with 2 locations in...

Irish Canadian Dry Stone Festival

Amherst Island has one of the largest concentrations of historic Irish dry stone walls in Canada, many over 150 years old. Skilled Irish craftsmen no longer working at the Rideau Canal wandered Eastern Ontario, seeking work. Our upcoming Irish Canadian Dry Stone...

Adventure at Topsy Farms on Amherst Island

Our neighbours and friends had quite an adventure at Topsy Farms recently. We have about 1000 ewes and over 1200 lambs now after lambing (with one or two waddling pregnant ewes still holding back). So many mouths require lots of food, and we were running out of...

Family Farm Outing

Our four foster lambs were hungry, so I went out early, with extra formula. They are tucked into a rebuilt corner of the barn, the ‘Lambs Playpen’, deeply bedded in straw, safely protected from any predators. A family farm outing to Topsy Farms includes time to:...