My Other Life: Melody Hopkins, Sheep Farmer

Keeping Sheep Ship Shape: Canadian nail tech Melody Hopkins moved her family to a 200-acre sheep farm in central Alberta to help out with about 400 ewes.

It’s been almost three years since Canadian nail tech Melody Hopkins moved her family to a 200-acre sheep farm in central Alberta to help out the farm’s owner, her husband’s aunt. “As an animal lover, I quickly fell in love with these woolly critters,” says Hopkins, whose salon, Hopkins Nails, is located in Lacombe. “I always say animals are good for my soul.”

On the farm, chores make up a big part of the day. “We farm about 400 ewes. That means every morning we shred hay in the fields and fork hay into the hay feeders. We fill up all the grain feeders as well, and feed certain sheep by pail. We also check to make sure everyone is healthy,” she says. “There’s weighing, shearing, shipping, lambing…the list goes on and on.”

Every May, Hopkins cuts her long nails very short in preparation for lambing season. “When May rolls around, babies start to pop like popcorn,” she says. “We lamb out around 300-400 ewes, so I’m in our big barn day and night checking for lambs being born, feeding and watering them, cleaning pens, putting out straw, and moving the animals around.” Her short nails are a precaution in case she has to help deliver a lamb. “Ewes will often have multiple lambs and sometimes they get tangled up or they’re too big or backwards. Then I have to reach in and figure out what’s going on. With long nails you run the risk of nicking the inside and causing internal bleeding.”

One of the things Hopkins loves most about living on the farm is being able to spend more time with her family. “Every year we end up with orphan lambs for one reason or another, and we have to bottle feed them three times a day. My boys always love bottle feeding the babies,” she says. “I just love working with the animals. When I say, ‘Come on girls’ and they all come running up, you can’t help but smile. Watching hundreds of sheep coming in from the field is always amazing.”

Photography by Dee Avery

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