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Black Sheep Gathering 2010

We headed up to the Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) on Thursday the 17th, late morning and made it in around six hours.  My caravan consisted of me and Annie in our truck with the sheep in the bed and my parents pulling their tent trailer with all of our “stuff” under their camper shell.  We made it to Kenleigh Acres in time to unload the tent trailer and get it ready for set-up and then to follow Shannon and her husband to the fairgrounds for unloading of the sheep.  I brought six total with me, two ewe lambs, two ram lambs and two yearling ewes.  I was thankful that everything was mostly uneventful though Annie took a pretty bad spill on the black top outside the barn and really banged up her forehead.  Thankfully my mom had brought along her Saint John’s Wart tincture which healed it up amazingly fast.  A first aid kit is something that definitely needs to go on the “travel list.” 

After setting up the stalls and helping other friends unload their things and animals, we headed out for dinner at a very late hour.  Thankfully Denny’s was easily accessible and of course, open.  The next morning I awoke early and rode in to the fairgrounds with Shannon.  We got our sheep fed and watered and then went to tend her vendor’s booth.  I am always overwhelmed and amazed at all the things that are for sale in the vendor area.  There are so many textures and colors to take in, along with new techniques and things to learn that it always makes my head swim.  I finally got some shopping in on Saturday afternoon and bought some bulky yarn from Little House Rugs who also raises Jacob sheep… Of course, the yarn is naturally colored Jacob.  The lady was very helpful and informative and encouraged me to get my wool processed.  She gave me some tips and was a contact I am happy to have made.

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I liked the lay out and natural colors of this booth.

Another contact I made that I’m very excited about (and my new friend at Little House Rugs would be proud of), is Klamath River Alpacas – not that I’m getting in to Alpacas now but learned that they have a mini-mill in a town that I would consider my neighbor here in the mountains.  They’re in the next county up from us but is a lovely drive and one I would definitely be willing to take to deliver bags of wool!

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This rug was hanging in her booth and I was inquiring about it.  It is single crocheted (something I can actually do!!) and is made with super large yarn that she processes in her mini-mill.  I plan on having some of that made from maybe Violet’s wool so that I can have a rug of my own like this.  I’m very excited about this and about having someone so close that I can learn more from.

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Here is my farm table and stalls where my sheep were housed.  My display table went through a lot of business cards and brochures.  I am hoping that they fell in to some hands that would be interested in purchasing sheep and of course fleece and products from them.  I think my banner turned out well and the pelt was well petted.

The Jacob show went well and had a lot of sheep in attendance.  There were eight Jacob breeders there which I’ve heard is a very large number!  It was great to have such a big group and I think my sheep placed pretty well.  We were consistently in the middle of placings and my highest ribbon was a third in Small Flock which is where I showed one ram, Sheldon, with two ewes, Aurelia and Susannah.  The judge said that he had a hard time judging my sheep before this last class as they jumped around a lot and were tense and therefore standing weird (note to self, tame sheep earlier next year!)  But by the time the Small Flock class came around, my sheep were relaxed and showing their true conformation which the judge said was nicely consistent.  I am hoping to see some pictures of the Jacob show taken by Shannon’s friend.

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On Saturday afternoon I was privileged to photograph Shannon doing a herd dog demonstration on the front lawns with her super fun dog, Kate.  They did an excellent show which was informative and fun to watch.  Not only did herding dogs get some interest but so did Jacob sheep and the panels and equipment that Shannon was able to borrow made by Shaul’s.  I certainly can say that I wish I had a dog and some of that equipment to go along with my Jacobs sheep!

The rest of the show was a lot of fun, all the different breeds were great to see again and I tried to absorb exactly what they were.  From Cotswolds to Wensleydales and Angora Goats… As always, a lot of fun to see such variety under one roof.  Though I was happy to be home again, I do look forward to next year.

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Wensleydale – I’ve heard their shorn locks go for hundreds of dollars.

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Lots of Angora Goats – And look blue eyes too!  They were fun to visit, my daughter’s favorites were the Pygoras (Angora x Pigmy).

A big thank you to Shannon at Kenleigh Acres for letting us camp at her place and for being such a great host and friend, and a big shout out to all those I was able to visit with again, it was great to see you all.

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My newest ram, Kenleigh’s Prescott.  He’ll be coming home around August.

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Sheeply Duties

Yesterday, with the help of my husband, my daughter, and my parents, we accomplished the great task of shearing 44 ewes and two rams; 46 in all.  Thankfully we have a man whom we hire to come out and do it… He’s short, stocky and comes from a long line of sheep shearers and does the job well.  Only one ewe was nicked out of all those sheep!

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We got them all done in four hours, the ones slated for attending the Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) were separated as well as some left-over ram lambs whom kept escaping.  I was also able to really pick apart some that need to go on the cull list and the ones whom I will definitely be keeping.

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This is Mud Ranch’s Stardust who will be one of my yearling ewes to attend the BSG.  She had her first halter lesson and though it was a bit wild to start with, she had eventually settled after all of us would walk by during the activities to touch her wool, rub her face, or just say hi.  I have a feeling she’ll be much more settled in two weeks with a bit more work.  Hopefully I’ll be able to go halter-less in the show ring… If I’m feeling comfortable.

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I am, however, having a hard time picking which ewe lambs will be attending.  I have one picked for sure, a four horned named Mud Ranch’s Aurelia.  But I am having a hard time deciding between Mud Ranch’s Christabel, foreground, and…

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Mud Ranch’s Susannah.  Any likes/dislikes on these gals?  I’d appreciate some input.  I think Susannah is a little longer bodied, both stand correctly and are alert in carriage.  Susannah’s coloring is not the “perfect” Jacob pattern as she’s more pinto than spotted but has a beautiful set of horns and a pretty face.  Christabel is stocky and taller and also has a proud carriage.

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Can you find the real sheep in this picture?

I set aside a few fleeces and bagged them after skirting.  The few I kept were Raider’s lovely fleece and some of his yearling daughters who have soft and luxurious lamb wool.  After a little more picking I plan to list them in my etsy shop as raw fleece.

Other than that, I have been making my lists on whom will be bred this fall, who are lilac carriers, and who is going on the cull list.  I know, culling can be a hard thing to do especially when it comes to your older ewes but it has to be done.  I cannot continue to keep the old gals while also keeping their daughters… It gets hard on the ol’ pocket book.  So there’s a few that I’d like to see go to pet homes and a few who will inevitably be bound for auction.  Just being truthful on life here at the Ranch…