Leave them alone, and they’ll come home….


It’s been over 2 weeks.

I miss my sheep, and my sheep are still missing…but still not safe. If and when Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) finds them—they will kill them.
After 27 months of uncertainty I want some kind of resolution. The sheep need resolution. Death hovers like a wooly cloud over my beautiful pregnant ewes…they’re out there somewhere about to lamb in an unfamiliar place, with an unfamiliar face.
The remaining flock here is jumpy and nervous, confused by the absence of their mates. One in particular has been so stressed by the events on April 2, 2012 that she’s stopped eating. She was very close to two ewes that are no longer here. I’m afraid she and her unborn lambs may soon die, she just stands and stares. I may have to bury her alone in CFIA’s spacious hilltop grave.
From the letter left behind that day, the Farmers’ Peace Corps were apparently in support of my proposal to CFIA—mainly the message seems to insist that CFIA prove or disprove the presence of scrapie.
If CFIA is so concerned that the flock remain isolated and in quarantine, perhaps they might consider a creative alternative that may actually result in the return of the sheep?
Here’s a suggestion for CFIA: Make a public appeal to Farmers’ Peace Corp offering amnesty for the flock and themselves if they would just get them back safe and sound on their home turf, with a promise of reprieve? Perhaps a promise of discussion…compromise…something? 
CFIA declare the sheep are a “threat”, yet their current actions do not seem in accord with such an imminent risk. Where is the sense of urgency in locating them? How about asking Farmers’ Peace Corp directly?
The following is the proposal I made to CFIA—CFIA refused.
Surely it MAKES EVEN MORE SENSE in light of the fact of NO sheep?
I believe the proposal makes sense…it’s ensures the future of this heritage breed and offers an alternative route for CFIA to determine IF there is actually any scrapie in existence in the flock—not just destroy apparently healthy sheep because their genotype suggests they might be susceptible to it.
 P R O P O S A L
 I request that Canada’s Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz implement alternative risk-management methods with a Rare Heritage Breed Exemption to the current Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Scrapie Protocol which will protect ALL future flocks and Canada’s genetic diversity.
The Wholearth Shropshire sheep listed on the CFIA Order of Destruction will be treated as such:
1. The pregnant ewes must be allowed birth and raise their lambs to weaning.
2. Semen must be collected for future artificial insemination before the rams are destroyed for testing.
3. Must retain 11 breeding flock of the most historically significant genetics in continued quarantine and scrapie monitoring.
4. Will sacrifice the remainder of the sheep on the destruction order for obex testing.
5. A select number of male’s testes and female’s ovaries must be harvested (when ewes follicular levels are higher—not when pregnant) and germplasm cryogenically banked for future replication by CAGR (Canadian Animal Genetic Resources).
6. Montana Jones must be present during on-farm premises obex removal of every sheep, and retain a tissue sample of each for blind re-testing by lab should CFIA have a positive scrapie test result. It is the only fair recourse to prove or disprove results in the event of a ‘mistake’.
7. Any sheep from the Wholearth flock will be buried on their home farm at Wholearth Farmstudio.
8. Proper and just compensation for all sheep under quarantine, their future lambs, and the last 2+ years in quarantine.
I’d like my Shropshires back to shepherd them through birthing and raising their lambs. CFIA claims the biggest potential risk is IF any sheep are indeed positive for scrapie, they must not give birth elsewhere. So on that point—we want the same thing.
Let’s get them back.
Leave them alone, and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them…


Montana Jones
Montana is a watcher of whales, saver of turtles, wayfarer and shepherd. She is a writer, photographer, art farmist and was formerly a magazine art director, media coordinator, journalist and past winner of the Sutton Agricultural Fair Spelling Bee. She tends an oversized garden, eats real food and raises Shropshire sheep and other heritage livestock on Wholearth Farmstudio in Northumberland County, Ontario Canada. She received a CBC Literary Award, Ontario Arts Council Writer’s Reserve Grant, and has appeared in EnRoute, Mind’s Eye, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Canadian Women Studies Literary Journal, Watershed Magazine and Edible Toronto.

6 thoughts on “Leave them alone, and they’ll come home….

  1. Wow, well said Montana! Its a great proposal. Lets hope CFIA will reconsider their earlier decision and agree to a compromise. We are all watching and waiting(in the USA) for the CFIA to make a better decision–this time.

  2. Is no one safe from the CFIA and other government agencies who claim destruction and death in the name of supposed safety and health. I believe your sheep will be safe and I hope returned to you when the real threat to them – the CFIA – has been resolved.

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