Dwayne Bazinet and Colleen Acres – Maple Meadows Farm
By Farm & Food Care
For two sheep farmers from Osgoode, Ontario, farming is both a job and a way of life.
The husband and wife team of Dwayne Bazinet and Colleen Acres operate Maple Meadows, a sheep farm containing 400 Rideau Arcott, Dorset, Hampshire and Suffolk ewes that produce 700 to 800 lambs every year.
The lambs are destined for both the breeding and meat market. Meat lambs are sold to both local butcher shops and directly to private citizens. Dwayne and Colleen also find a lot of business with Ontario’s Islamic community who purchase a sizeable number of lambs each year.
Dwayne and Colleen purchased the farm in 2007 from Colleen’s parents, Dwayne and Laura Acres, and have three children – Mitchell 16, Taylor 13 and Kieran 9. Both Colleen’s parents and their three sons help on the farm, which supplies lambs for 10 months each year. The business sees multiple lambing seasons annually, with the most productive period occurring in February.
Adding to the workload, the couple also grow corn and soybeans, keep a small herd of beef cattle, chickens for eggs as well as meat, and, new this year, turkeys for the thanksgiving season. Sheep have been raised by the Acres family for four generations, however, Dwayne and Colleen are the first generation out of four to make sheep farming their primary source of income.
In terms of the farm itself, two years ago the family chose to build a new fabric covered barn in order to provide better housing for their sheep. The quality of air flow in particular, says Colleen, is a very positive feature of the barn, as is the protection from predators that it provides their youngest lambs. The older dairy barn, which housed a dairy herd up until 2001, now provides warmth and comfort to ewes and their young lambs born during the harsh Canadian winter.
The animals are raised partially on pasture, and the danger posed by wild animals, such as coyotes, is still a reality. Consequently, the farm also employs the help of two livestock guardian dogs, as well as donkeys and a llama, to patrol the fields while the sheep are grazing.
Dwayne and Colleen’s farm is their passion, and it’s one that is clearly shared by many other family members. Colleen’s father Dwayne, was even recognized by Ontario’s Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2010 for his vision and leadership in the sheep industry.
All things said, the pair reiterate that their farm is part of a bigger industry. Combined with their extensive community involvement –they are active members of the local 4H sheep club, Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency, Canadian Sheep Breeders’ Association, Ottawa Valley Farm Show, minor hockey and their local church.