Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sheep for the Spring

Wensleydale Ewes
For a long time I have wanted to have a few sheep on our property to help with the grass on the more hilly areas. Originally I was interested in the Jacob Sheep; a double horned goat type sheep with a striking black and white fleece. In more recent years, I find that I like large sheep with a classic look, a short level neck, long wool, and an interesting history. Last month we went to visit a farm in West Virginia where they raise rare Wensleydale sheep. We had a very enjoyable day learning about the British artificial insemination program used to breed the sheep.

Last weekend I went to the West Virginia Fiber Festival where I found another breed of sheep that I think will be the perfect addition! Leicester Longwool sheep have a fascinating history as the original sheep kept by George Washington. Colonial Williamsburg began an important breeding program to bring the dwindling breed back to prominence in the United States. Although still very rare, the Leicester Longwool is maintained by many owners who shear and spin their fleece into gorgeous yarns.
Leicester Ewe

Both the Wensleydale and Leicester Sheep look like Barbet! They have long fleece that forms the same kind of curled strands as the dogs. Now all I need is some fence, then to wait for a few wethers that I can raise in the spring.

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