Sunday, August 29, 2010


Sojourner Farm: MA #14

I am pleased to share the fact that my flock has been certified as a scrapie-free flock, effective 06-19-10, in the voluntary scrapie program conducted by APHIS (Animal and Plant Inspection Service).

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. The USDA would like to eradicate scrapie in US flocks because its presence decreases the economic viability of flocks and prevents the exportation of sheep to some countries. More information about this disease can be found here; click on Fact sheet (PDF) in the Related Topics column to the right for a brief overview of the disease

Farms participating in the voluntary scrapie program have annual inspections by a USDA veterinarian. Farms that have been found to be scrapie-free for five years and whose animals have not been exposed to potentially infected animals obtain and maintain certified status.

I’ve been in the program since 2001 but the addition of sheep from farms that were not certified has set me back in the program twice.

I do not sell sheep for breeding stock, so why am I doing this? Back in 2001 I wasn’t clear about my goals for this flock. At this point my sheep are a motley crew comprising a fiber flock and I do not sell breeding stock.Yet...the USDA vet tells me that it’s still good to be certified because it contributes to the overall health of sheep in this country.

Glad to know that, but it doesn’t really have any impact right now on my little operation.

However, as alluded to earlier this summer, there will be some new arrivals in September and being a scrapie-certified farm will carry a little more weight here in the future.  More to follow...

Summer is ending.  On my morning walk with the dogs I looked for hints from Mother Nature that this is so.  Hope you enjoy these photos, as well as Dar William's melodic poem about this time of turning.  If you right click or control click you'll be able to switch back to this tab and enjoy the photos while Dar sings.

                                                End of the Summer
                                  by Dar Williams

I don't know what this plant is, but at this time of summer its flowers create a pink haze that captures the morning dew like tiny diamonds.
The Staghorn Sumac leaves have just begun to turn; soon they will be brilliant ruby.

Some, more enterprising souls than me, make a sort of lemonade from the fruits of the Staghorn Sumac.

Goldenrod, a flower that yields lasting color on wool.

Wild grapes.  The sheep love them!
 Thanks to my daughter Amanda for reminding me about Dar Williams.

What signs of summer's passing are you seeing?   Please click on the word comment below to share your thoughts.

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