If you still have pumpkins or harvest display corn stalks or hay bales, Marnie Talbot and Brook Harvie will take them off your hands.
The pair farm rare-breed Jacob sheep at their location near Petersburg, and will put the pumpkins, cornstalks and hay bales to good use as food for their animals. They welcome any pumpkins without glitter, paint or anything toxic to animals. Pumpkin seeds are a natural dewormer, and as a bonus, the animals really like them.
The pair have a drop-off location at 18 Park Ave. E. in Elmira at the location of Harvie’s green energy and construction company, Sambren. If needed, pickup can be arranged.
The pair use holistic methods in their farming business, said Talbot.
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“We’ve always looked for ways to feed our stock as naturally as possible. This helps with that,” she said. Talbot also practices herbalism and incorporates this in her farming methods.
For example, if Talbot came across a cast member of her flock, meaning it had fallen and couldn’t right itself up because of a buildup of gas in its stomach, Talbot’s first steps would be to right it, rub its legs and stomach and force it to chew a stick to help the gas escape. She would plan to give it willow for the pain and baking soda to help with the gas. If needed, she would use medication.
“We don’t refuse medication to our animals – if they need it, they get it. We have our vet on call and all that,” Talbot said.
“If we have to medicate an animal, say, a lamb that had pneumonia, then that lamb then goes out of our herd and goes into a sanctuary. We have a sanctuary up by Chesley that our animals go to and we call them chief grass cutters now for the rest of their life.
“We do that in order to keep everything out of that meat, because a lot of our clients are maybe cancer patients, we have people that are heart patients … they need to know that their meat that they’re eating is healthy and doesn’t have anything in it,” Talbot said.
The pair started collecting Halloween pumpkins and harvest décor at their original location near Owen Sound before they moved to Petersburg a few years ago. They also collect Christmas trees.
“We started this program up north before it was popular. And we would have people come to the farm and bring their pumpkins to the sheep,” said Talbot.
“They could throw them in,” added Harvie.
“With COVID and all that, because of the kind of farm we are, we don’t want a whole bunch of people tracking through the farm right now. So we do this drop off and pickup, and we find that that helps.”
“Two years ago, I just put the call out on Facebook and said I’m willing to come pick up any pumpkins or any decorations that you have – corn stalks, the gourds, everything – I will take it off your porch for you, and I will feed it to the sheep,” said Talbot.
Besides feeding their animals pumpkins, they also reduce waste by participating in a program called Loop, an organization which coordinates between farmers and grocery stores to divert food waste from landfill.
Talbot says she feels farmers don’t get enough credit for the work they do, and that even something like a pumpkin is easy to take for granted.
“This pumpkin, for instance, was grown on someone’s farm,” she said. “And that took a lot to grow, and a lot of money and fuel and equipment and worry.”
“To see it reused is actually one of the biggest things for us,” said Harvie.
At Saugeen Ridge Farm, Talbot and Harvie produce wool and year-old lambs for meat. They maintain a flock of some 50 sheep, and are working to increase the size. They also keep three escape-artist jersey cows named Huey, Dewey and Louie.
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