Early this fall I had the pleasure of visiting Bethanee Jensen, owner/operator of Shepherd’s Fold near Belgrave.
Bethanee was born with a passion for farming. Although she was raised on a farm and loved that lifestyle, she worked out at a local manufacturing plant for years – the later few splitting her time part-time on the farm. In January of 2000 she felt lucky to become a full-time farmer.
Bethanee feels great satisfaction when others succeed and loves sharing her skill. On her farm, Bethanee has enjoyed the support of one young gal in her neighbourhood for years and who, this year, was assisting on the farm as part of her secondary school co-op. Bethanee credits this assistance to her having had the largest lambing season ever, this past spring. She shared her biggest challenges as lack of time and physical limitations (she is petite). And, having more land would allow her to expand her flock.
Bethanee’s passion comes from her love of the animals. She chose lamb and sheep as they are a good size for her manage. Cattle would be just too big. She also has a few laying chickens on the farm. Each day is different and she never gets bored. She also enjoys her customers whom she has built years-long relationships with.
At Shepherd’s Fold, Bethanee has 100 ewes which she raises on rotational grazing (moving regularly around the farm to ensure healthy natural pasture grass growth). Animals remain outdoors most of the time. Her flock is purebred, registered Polled Dorsets – a maternal breed. She markets both breeding stock and quality pesticide-free lamb to customers from Iqaluit to Sarnia. She has built her business through a word-of-mouth network.
Gestation for sheep is five months. Bethanee tries not to lamb in the summer, but barely a month goes by without new lambs on this farm.
Tails are docked short to prevent fly strike – an infestation of maggots in the manure that’s difficult to clean from the wool beneath a tail. The maggots will eventually eat the animal live.
Wool on sheep grows approximately 1/4 inch per month. When it gets too long it parts down the back of the sheep allowing for water and ice to penetrate it. If it’s tight, the solid fleece actually sheds water and protects the animal from heat and from the cold. The animals are sheared in late September. Then wool sheared from Bethanee’s flock is cleaned and woven into beautiful blankets at MacAusland’s Woollen Mills in Bloomfield, Prince Edward Island. If you’ve found woollen products allergenic, try these blankets as they are processed without the typical chemicals that cause most allergic reactions. She has a few in stock and I can tell you these are lovely soft blankets in a wonderful array of natural and dyed colours.
Queen – 96” x 104” – $135
Double – 72” x 90” – $110
Single – 60” x 90” – $ 85
Lap/Crib – 48” x 60” – $ 75
Hides are tanned at nearby tannery, Bainton’s Old Mill in Blyth. Lamb sheepskins are $95.
Bethanee raises her animals as natural as possible. She’s very fussy about chemical-use, using only when absolutely needed. Sprays are not used in the pastures and no growth hormones are injected. Ewes are vaccinated as they’re primarily breeding stock, but meat lambs are not vaccinated.
Open year-round for farm-gate sales, but do call ahead.
40218 Brandon Road
BRUSSELS, ON N0G 1H0