A beautiful sheep farm in Virginia…that’s where it began. I don’t think either my husband or I would have pictured ourselves as sheep farmers, even six months before this photo was taken, but now, eighteen months later, we are awaiting the arrival of our second season of lambs.
This photo though was taken just prior to us getting on the road for the most frightening, yet memorable, road trip.
In September 2015, we purchased three ewes and a ram from a Clun Forest breeder in Virginia and then proceeded to transport them in a makeshift crate 450 miles to our home in Connecticut. Imagine driving up the NJ Turnpike with a 250 lb ram that just got introduced to three 150 lb ewes when he was loaded into the crate. Let’s just say there was 700 lbs of frolicking in the “bed” of the truck. Apparently he did his job though and five months later, we had our first crop of lambs: four lambs from two ewes, the youngest ewe didn’t get settled that first year.
Since that time, we’ve learned a lot about raising sheep but it remains just a hobby for us. We enter our second lambing season with greater confidence and an understanding that these animals have been birthing babies longer than we have and, for the most part, we just need to watch nature take its course.
As with many shepherds whose blogs and websites I’ve poured over to learn about the species, we too have become somewhat attached to our sheep. We give them simple names, although primarily as a means to identify them. I would like to get better at coming up with more creative names – we thought about naming them after Game of Thrones characters but haven’t yet done that. I can just imagine calling the vet to inquire if Cersei’s and Tyrion’s fecal samples have come back from the lab yet.
We started with the foundation sire of our flock, Yale. He was good at his job but more important, he was gentle and never aggressive with us. It bothered me to do so, but we sold him after his second breeding season so we could best manage growing the flock – without inbreeding.
And then we have, “our girls”: Pretty (large picture), Chubb (top), and Grandma (bottom). They are all aptly named.
Pretty and Grandma gave us two sets of twins last March – all rams. This is the four of them at about seven months.
We harvested three and kept one of Grandma’s to be the new ram in our flock. Grandma has excellent lineage but more importantly, he was the most gentle. A recurring theme, but a necessity with young kids. This is him at four months, he continues to be sweet to this day, we’re just hoping it lasts.
I’ll wrap this first post up with knowing that I’ll be following up very soon to share the pics of the new lambs. We are literally 48 hours from at least four more additions to the flock. Keeping our fingers crossed that we get some ewe lambs this time!