Vanessa Wahl holds a day-old ram at Waverider Farm. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Sure-footed signs of spring at WaveRider Farm

On WaveRider Farm, the surest signs of spring arrive on all fours.

Hobby farmers Vanessa and Dave Wahl recently welcomed 13 spring lambs, 10 of them rams, to their flock of partly East Friesian and Icelandic sheep in Tlell.

Even at just one day old, the youngest two — twin rams born to an ewe named Sleepy — could run their gangly legs up and down a hillside pasture.

“In the mornings they’ll jump and kick their feet,” said Vanessa.

But like all sheep, she said even newborns quickly turn to their life’s business.

“They just settle into eating.”

Dave said he and Vanessa knew nothing at all about sheep seven years ago, when they agreed to buy their first ones from fellow Tlellian Adolph Bitterlich.

“We had no fence, we had no plan, we had no idea how to raise sheep,” said Dave.

“Then we had two months to figure it out.”

As of this spring, a total of 68 lambs have been born at WaveRider Farm. Down the road, they would like to sell some of their wool on island, and maybe some manure, too.

“The way they produce manure that’s useful, and wool and meat and milk — they’re really amazing animals,” said Dave, adding that raising sheep also happens to be great exercise.

“It’s all carrying stuff.”

They can’t keep the rams because they’re related to the others on the farm, said Dave, “But they’ll have a heck of a nice summer here.”

Given that ewes tend to have their young at a very regular schedule — usually around 145 days — Dave said they will try as best they can to schedule all of next year’s lambs for Spring Break.

“Once you know the number for a particular ewe, it tends to be consistent year to year,” he said.

“But some of them are very secretive, and don’t let us see when they mate,” he added, laughing.

“Others do it for like a weekend straight and it’s obvious to everyone driving by on the highway.”


Sleepy keeps an eye out for her first two lambs. (Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

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