“Putkisalon kartano” farm, Rantasalmi, Finland

Source: Michael den Herder (EFI)

The “Putkisalo kartano” farm is located 300 km north of Helsinki in the Finnish Lake District. The farm is managed by the farmers Susanna Nuutinen and Mikael Westerstråhle. It is a very diverse farm. The farm produces sheep for breeding and meat production, lamb meat and cereals. The farm also has some forest for timber production and manages traditional rural landscapes.

Two different sheep breeds are kept at the farm: Dorset and FinnSheep  (Suomenlammas). Dorset is a fast growing breed, has a good milk production and is an efficient and peaceful grazer. Dorset sheep are kept and sold for crossbreeding. Dorset sheep are crossbred with Finnsheep, this results in an economic and easy-care breed called FinnDorset which is excellent for meat production. Crossbreeding with a third breed can further improve the result, for example Texel, Oxford Down or Suffolk.

Sheep dogs are joyful companions and a great help in herding the sheep. They greatly reduce the workload at the farm. Putkisalo kartano also breeds sheep dogs (Border collies) and offers sheep dog training which starts when the dogs are still puppies.  It is the best to start the training very early to avoid mistakes being made in the first year of the dog’s life which may destroy the dog’s interest in herding. The training is not only for the dogs; Sheepherders should also attend the same training. For the best chance of success, the training programme includes the whole education package and training for both the dog and its owner. Sheepherders from many countries have been giving sheep dog clinics at the farm.

Inka ready to go to work

Inka at work

The farm also manages traditional rural habitats including 20 hectares of wood pasture, some of which has been there for more than 200 years. Traditional wood pastures are among the most biodiverse habitats in northern Europe. With proper management, grazed areas have in general higher biodiversity compared to areas without grazing, and therefore it is very important to maintain the grazing management. The wood pasture belonging to Putkisalo kartano are grazed by sheep, Finncattle and horses. Lambs are born in January to April and they go with their mothers to the pastures around mid-May where they can graze the whole summer. Some lambs are born in August. Two Finnhorses (Suomenhevonen), Jesella and Palome, take care of the management of 5 hectares of wood pasture. In addition to the farm’s own horses, other horses also graze on these pastures. Furthermore, Putkisalo kartano has an agreement with the Finnish Forest and Park Service to rent sheep for management of the grazing areas in the nearby Linnansaari National Park which is situated in Lake Haukivesi. The sheep are taken to the island by boat.

Horses grazing at a wood pasture with Scots pine

Wood pasture near the lake

The farm shop offers special and quality products which are hard to find in the normal supermarket. There is lamb meat, lamb sausages, sheepskins, wool for knitting and hand-made woollen blankets.

Rural landscapes have a very important function in preserving our cultural heritage. In addition to the wood pasture, at Putkisalo kartano there are several historical buildings. The owners of the farm have done and are still doing a tremendous job in restoring these buildings to their former glory so that in years to come younger generations can enjoy what a Finnish farm and its surroundings landscapes once looked like.

Traditional Finnish farm buildings

There are regular open days at the farm where you can watch, for example, the new-born lambs or a sheep dog at work. For more information on Putkisalon kartano, please have a look at the farm’s website or facebook.

Open day at Putkisalo. Photo by Sampo Luukkainen

Wool in different colours. Photo by Sampo Luukkainen

Driving a tractor. Photo by Sampo Luukkainen

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