The Comfort name is well known in the West Lincoln-Niagara area; working the land and owning dairy and sheep for many generations. David Comfort of Spring Creek Road is the next generation taken to raising Purebred Dorsets (a breed of sheep known mostly for its prolific lambing. Both horned and polled Dorsets are all white sheep and medium size having good body length and muscle conformation to produce a desirable carcass. The fleece is very white, strong, close and free from dark fiber) Southdowns (a small, dual-purpose British sheep, raised primarily for meat) and Suffolks (black-faced, an open-faced breed raised primarily for meat) are his choice of breeds. His flock presently standing at eighty head is just the right size for him to manage with all his other farming chores. Lambing season taking place in this bitter cold of 2014 has him doing maternity check quite often as he waits for his herd to increase by 50 to 60 lambs.
David Comfort bought his first 12 sheep in 2001. “My family has always had purebred sheep,” he shares, “for 4 generations.” In 2005 he purchased some purebred sheep much to the delight of his Grandfather Gerald. Gerald had sold his purebred sheep and this gave him “his second wind,” says David. “No one could match him for knowing about sheep. And at the age of 80 he helped me out a lot, always keeping an eye on them and overseeing their care.” A few years ago Gerald passed away and David bought his grandfather’s farm and moved into the farm house close to his sheep and next door to the dairy farm.
What does David do with his sheep? He plans to keep his flock at around 80. His sheep are raised for breeding sales, meat and show. At one time there were many sheep shows to attend in the fall but as fairs diminish in size and amalgamate, there are fewer and fewer to attend. His flock can still be seen at the West Niagara Fair, Paris, Welland, Ancaster, Simcoe and Rockton Fairs. It is said that the magic number to make a living from sheep is between 400 to 1000 head; David will keep his herd size small as he continues to work with the flock and on the family dairy farm.
The Comforts have been farming for over 200 years. His Great Grandfather Raymond had the Dairy Cows. Now his father Neil, his mother Margaret, his sister Laura when she is not teaching and his sister Amanda when she is home from Guelph University can all be found in the same dairy barn. An Uncle who has just retired has joined in to help with the summer tractor driving, plowing, cutting hay and baling. “I will always work with the cows,” says David, “I never plan on retiring. I will just keep on dairy farming, maybe modernizing a bit more, but I want to be on the farm. This lifestyle lets you be your own boss, play with tractors and work with animals. I especially like cows that don’t kick and sheep that don’t need help lambing,” he laughs. “The hardest part of farming is being there everyday, especially if you don’t feel well.” But he is there everyday. Starting at six every morning he grains the sheep and then travels next door to the dairy barn where he assists with the milking of fifty Holsteins, then feeds the dry stock and then back to the sheep. Checking water, feeding hay and maternity watch is part of the seasonal routine. “There is always manure to be spread and hay to have on hand and seasonal work, seeding the fields, harvesting and a bit of custom work to keep me busy.”
His wife Shauna ‘a city girl’ from Toronto was won over by his winning smile. Two years ago she moved to the country. “I spent a lot of time in the country when I was growing up,” she said, “and where else can you walk out on your front porch and see cows in one field and sheep in the other. I wake up to that and it is all worth it.” Saturdays and Sundays when she is not at her job in Burlington she is the weekend barn helper. Shauna does maternity check and puts up hay and fills water pails. “She is a big help with filling out pedigree papers, doing the fair entries and washing and trimming the sheep for show,” says David. “And I am learning to show a bit too,” Shauna explains.
Only a short time away from the farm has been spent by David, attending the Ontario Agriculture College for two years and a very brief stint working in a factory. Those 300 acres that need to be put into hay, corn and spring grain call his name. As do the cows and his prize winning sheep. Watch for the herd sign as you travel Spring Creek Road the Comforts plan on being there for more generations to come.