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The Sheep of Fox Island

As you step onto the deck of Newfoundland Ocean Lodge, your eyes are drawn to the nearby Fox Island. Contrary to its name, the island is devoid of foxes but is a summer sanctuary for sheep.

Much like other seaside communities around Newfoundland, local farmers escort their flocks from the mainland to these smaller islands during the summer months. These islands provide a safe haven for the sheep, free from predators and abundant in grazing opportunities. The sheep, it seems, remain blissfully unaware of the irony of their summer residence's name.

This seasonal migration of livestock is known as "transhumance," or more specifically, "island transhumance." It involves moving sheep from their regular pastures on the mainland to the greener grass of nearby islands.

This practice not only offers the sheep superior grazing conditions but also allows the mainland pastures some respite.

Each summer, a flock of about 120 sheep embarks on this adventure to a quaint island just off Tor Cove's coast. Keith Morry, proprietor of Morry's Sheep Farm, ensures a safe passage for his woolly passengers. By keeping the sheep closely huddled together on the boat, there's no room for them to move or attempt a daring leap into the water.

Over the years, the Morrys have become adept at interpreting their flock's behavior. "If one has its ears up and looks like it's going to jump, we restrain it," Keith shares, after successfully transporting three boatloads of sheep to two islands off Canada's easternmost province. This year, these 60 sheep were among 400 who made the journey. Thankfully, no sheep have gone overboard to date.

The Morrys have been practicing this annual ritual since the 1800s. The rugged and hilly terrain of the mainland makes finding suitable grazing areas a challenge, whereas the islands offer an expansive, flat, and verdant refuge.

Everyone benefits from this practice - the sheep revel in their summer pasture, the farmers appreciate the advantages it brings, and even the guests at Newfoundland Ocean Lodge enjoy the pastoral spectacle. As for the foxes, they'll have to content themselves with a different fare.


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