Jacob Sheep Breeders Assoc. A.G.M.
AGM stands for Annual General Meeting and it was all happening about three hours south of us. Our friend Shannon at Kenleigh Acres talked us in to going and we’re definitely glad we did. Hubby actually said multiple times how he really enjoyed the AGM and how well run it was. That is a big deal because he can be kind of particular about things like a horse show or sheep show or fair. Most of the time he’s not impressed but this time he was.
We arrived on Friday night, after everyone had eaten and was greeted by Shannon. She saw us pull in and helped us set up stalls for our sheep and then hunted down the left over food. We had a nice little dinner while we watched the very last part of a lecture on lambing. I’m sorry we missed the lecture, but did get to enjoy the dinner!
The next morning we were in for a big treat. We were able to go out and visit Meridian Jacobs in Vacaville where we were given quite a talk on Ranching for Profit and pasture as it pertains to sheep keeping. We learned about dividing our large pastures into smaller paddocks where you can do intensive rotational grazing. There was such a large amount of information that I wished I could have recorded it all.
Hubby and I took turns entertaining our baby. I let her crawl around the barn floors while he had the brilliant idea of letting her stand on the hay and put hay on a plate and take it off again. Trying to keep her entertained can be a hard task especially when she tends to be pretty noisy, even when she’s happy.
There was a beautiful raffle table set up inside the barn and the presentation was lovely. The ladies that put it together did an excellent job as they moved it from location to location, and the raffle items were beautiful. There were a couple of Jacob pelts, a shawl, a throw, a couple of felted items, a painting, a hooked rug, some gift certificates to wool mills and the like.
After the inside lecture, we got to go out into the pastures that are obviously in excellent condition and the plan for rotational grazing is working out tremendously. Here our lecturers are showing us the fencing that he recommends. The white pole is the fence post, he sticks the orange thing on the post and pounds it into the ground with just a couple of thumps. It really doesn’t take much effort and the poles bend so easily in case of an accident. They attach insulators to the poles and attach the electric wire. It is all so quick and efficient that I could actually set up a fenceline myself. You cross the fencelines by just stepping on the wire and crossing over it. I really liked that part because that means when a tree falls on top of the fencing, it will pop up once the tree is removed and won’t be crushed under the weight like normal fencing. Of course I’d want a nice sturdy perimeter fence but these three strands of electric for cross fencing is an excellent idea.
The paddocks were then divided by this electric netting that you can get from Premier 1 Supplies. It is easy to detatch and then set back up in the next paddock over. Once you open the paddock, the sheep are excited to move to fresh grass, and this happens every day. They rush past and start grazing.
This was really one of the most beautiful flocks of Jacobs. They were all in prime health and their fleeces were so clean and just shone. You can tell their shepherdess, Robin, really cares for the fleeces on her sheep and they’re used to make wonderful things that are woven and their yarn and rovings sold.
The ewes got a bit excited at one point and took over the whole paddock before the netting could be stretched across to create a smaller area. Shannon had to go get her dog, Kate, to help put them back where they belonged.
This is Rusty, he was all excited that Kate was out working the sheep. He made sure that if Kate needed back up that he was ready and waiting.
This is Kate, she was smiling at her job well done.
That afternoon we went back to the fairgrounds and had some lunch and visited for a little bit. We then went in to a air conditioned room and were given an excellent talk on the Jacob sheep’s wool, the genetics, and some interesting results in a identical twin study. The study basicly sumed up that breeding Jacob sheep, you never know what you are going to get as far as coloring and horns. They did a study at UC Davis where they would split a fertilized egg and implant the two embryos in to a Polypay ewe. The ewe gave birth and they were interested to find that each lamb (being identical) did not have the same black and white pattern. They then watched them grow only to find that each lamb had very different horns. Of a set of rams, one ram had what would be considered near perfect horns, excellent for being a flock sire. His identical twin brother, however, did not have such desirable horns and would not be a good flock sire. There were also identical twin ewe lambs, one had a beautiful set of four horns, evenly spaced. Her twin sister, however, had the “lobster claw” horns that are a dreaded horn set for the Jacobs and would definitely be a cull. I thought that this was an interesting study and it really helps a newbie like me to understand that I will not have perfect lambs every time no matter what the sire and dam are. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’ll want to breed culls, it just means that there is some forgiveness in the breeding of Jacob sheep.
By the time the Identical Twin talk was over, my kidney started hurting. I was feeling pretty uncomfortable. I was able to sit through a talk on the produce from Jacob sheep such as pelts, skulls, horns, meat, and wool. That was very interesting to hear what people do with their Jacobs and how they sell to the public. It gave Hubby and I some ideas that we’d like to try out in the future. I also learned a little bit more about wool, because I really don’t know much at all. We mainly use our sheep for meat, but I’d like to really learn the wool as I like to crochet and it would be fun to make some blankets out of my own wool. But that’ll come in the future.
The JSBA then had their meeting and it was very efficient and fast. I am used to other meetings at a different Association that can be painfully long and nothing gets accomplished because of all the bickering. The JSBA’s meeting was very well done and we enjoyed sitting in on it.
It was then time to head back to the barn and get ready for dinner. I was not feeling good at all by that point and sat in the truck for a while trying to rest. Finally, I started to feel nauseous and Hubby decided we had better head home early so that I could be miserable there instead of a hotel room. Unfortuntely we missed a wonderful lamb dinner that we were looking forward to, and we missed more things on Sunday morning one of which was a wool show where I could have learned more. Oh well. I wasn’t able to get photos of the barn full of Jacobs, wasn’t able to purchase raffle tickets, and wasn’t able to get a photo of a Navajo-Churro ram that was in the barn who was absolutely beautiful. He was something to see. But regardless, we had a great time and want to thank all the people who put it on for their organizational skills, their hard work, and their dedication. It was a very well put together event.
PS: Robin at Meridian Jacobs has a bunch of these guys in her pasture. I’d say that’s a great sign!