Yes, it's true. We are now Sheep Farmers. Back to the roots, man. (All those stone walls on our property were most likely not erected to contain alpacas ...)
It is an inevitable truth of farming that most alpaca farms will eventually obtain at least one or two sheep. It just kind of makes sense, since many mills can't even process pure alpaca wool, and it just seems crappy, somehow, to have to buy wool to process your alpaca.
So, we got sheep. These are not (of course) just any sheep: These are Jacob Sheep, and they are not just any Jacobs; they are really good Jacobs from a long-term breeding program.
I've always wanted sheep -- our family very nearly got into sheep when I was a kid, but that never quite materialized -- but, having owned dozens of different breeds and species in my life, I know by now that researching, meeting and wanting something does not guarantee that it is going to "click" with me once we have brought it home. We brought a goat onto our farm very briefly (before this 'blog even existed!), and, although I adore goats on other farms, it did not work out well. As cute as her bouncy personality was, it meant that she totally got in the way at chore time -- sometimes dangerously, in the case of the horses -- and that, coupled with her complete disregard for fencing, meant that we had to quickly find her a new home. On the other hand, I was concerned that sheep might be too flighty for us. They're cute, and wool is good, but I wasn't sure how their personalities were going to mesh with ours.
As it turns out, we both feel that the sheep are a terrific fit! We brought the girls home on Saturday, and we are already totally taken with them. Contrary to my concerns, these sheep are not particularly flighty; they are outgoing, curious, friendly, and about as confident as I can imagine sheep ever get. I don't think these sheep were particularly babied by their breeder, so I think this is just their natural disposition. They greet me in the morning and clamor over each other to eat out of our hands. They also seem a lot more -- dare I say it? -- intelligent than other sheep I have met. My previous sheep experience had suggested that sheep have truly earned their reputation as Dumbest Livestock Species, but these girls really seem to give thought to things.
Enough blather, though -- expect to see more sheep updates from Howling Hill Farm in the future -- for now, here are the sheep!
This is Sally. (We named our sheep ... Anything bigger than a duck gets a name, here, and some of the ducks and chickens even have names as well.) Sally is the Alpha Sheep. I had no idea that sheep herds have an Alpha Sheep, but there is no question that these girls do, and Sally is it.
This is their usual configuration: Sally in front.
This is Marge. Marge and Sally have horns that stick up straight, and you can't see it in the photos, but they also have tiny buds of horns directly behind their ears. So, these girls will eventually have four horns!
Betty and Harriet have rear-facing horns, and I haven't looked closely, but I suspect that they only have two each. However, the ram that they are bred to has five horns ..!
We gave them all names that sounded like 1950's housewives.
They are all due to lamb in March-April ... Expect mega cuteness this spring! (As if cria weren't cute enough ..!)
K writes this stuff, for some reason that has yet to become apparent.