The other day I realized that I have never shared much about our flock of sheep! Since the sheep are big part of our ranch, I feel like they should have their own post.
Our flock started with two registered Dorper ewes in 2015. These were a Christmas gift to Hailey from her aunt. They were named Daisy and Tulip. Daisy was always very friendly and the leader of the flock. Tulip never did like to come very close to us but she was always a good mama. Sadly, we lost both of them this summer.
After a couple of years with Daisy and Tulip, Hailey applied for a starter flock through the Kansas Sheep Association. She was selected to receive 6 ewes from a local producer that raises hair sheep. Most of his sheep are a breed called Easy Care. This is a composite breed of white Dorper, Khatadin, and Romanov sheep.
Dorpers and Easy Care sheep are both Hair breeds. This means that they will shed their wool in the spring/summer months, leaving only hair. Some hair sheep will have a “mat” of wool left on their back, only shedding the sides and belly wool. The sheep that completely shed do get a little bit of a sunburn at the first of the summer but are then fine.
The hair sheep flock are all Hailey’s. It provides a little income for her, as well as, teaching her valuable lessons in responsibility, caring for others, and is something that she can continue to do as she goes on to college and beyond.
This past winter I began exploring the idea of purchasing a wool breed for Lance & I to raise. I have always been fascinated with wool breeds and love yarn and wool products so I thought it would be a good fit. I did quite a bit of research on breeds and wool. Lance said that I had to prove that it would be profitable to raise wool sheep before he would agree to buying any. So in my effort to prove to him that it was a good idea, I called wool mills and spoke with people already in the fiber world. Once I had narrowed down my list of possible breeds to two, I called and messaged several breeders and spoke to them about their sheep. Luckily, everyone I talked to said it was a “no brainer” to have a flock of wool sheep that produced a finer fleece for making yarn and combed top.
When my research was complete, I decided that Finnsheep would be the best fit for us. They are very friendly and produce a beautiful fleece. Finnsheep are also known for being very prolific (they can have 1-5 lambs in one breeding) which is great for quickly building up a flock.
Using the Finnsheep Breeders Association, I found a breeder in Missouri. This was the closest one that I was able to find. In July, Lance & I went to pick up 10 ewes and 1 ram. I am happy to report that I am in love with them! They have the sweetest personalities and their fleece feels wonderful! I can’t wait for our first shearing next spring to see what we get.
I am hoping that by next summer or fall, we will have some wool products to offer to our customers, as well as lamb meat for local customers.
While being a shepherd is a lot of work, there isn’t much better than standing out in your pasture surrounded by your flock.