'Sydney' the Merino/ 'Dodge Ram' before shearing Dodge after shearing 'Southie' the Southdown ewe 'Babydoll' Southdown ewe
CVM cross ewe Shetland wether with Jake looking on perma-grin QT!
'Corrie' our Corriedale ewe 'Jake" the Jacob with Corrie Lucky 7 and Jake Wensleydales in black & white
Our pure black ewe is a Corriedale named 'Corrie" - another easy peasy name choice. We got our big beautiful girl from Outback Farm in Rio Linda. Her fleece is very soft and jet black. Corriedales originate in New Zealand, where their wool is commercially processed for worsted "all purpose" yarns. The fleeces range for 10 to 15 pounds and staple length is 3 to 5 inches.
The white sheep on our black-sheep farm are two cute Southdown ewes. One is a standard size, 'Southie' form Ohnman Livestock in Idaho. The other is a miniature version called a Babydoll Southdown - we aptly named 'Babydoll' - from a farm in Rio Linda. The miniature versions have been bred short primarily for vineyards, so they can graze the grass, but not reach the grapes. It turns out short sheep are not a benefit among the larger sheep on our farm. Babydoll can crawl under fences the other sheep can't, so we have to devise ways to keep her from eating the chicken and rabbit food. She can also get through creep feeders to eat up all the lamb's fodder. She's a cute little piggy tho.
The breed has roamed the Sussex Downs of England since the 1700's. Their wool is a very fine and dense down used in the manufacturing of high-quality fabrics and knitting yarns. The fleece weigh 5 - 8 lbs. (less for Babydolls), with a short staple length of 2 to 3 inches.
Bert & and the girls' favorite sheep is our four-horned Jacob from Meridian Jacobs in Fairfield. 'Jake' is a lovable character and will let anyone pet him. All sheep have a distinctive baa sound, but his is the most identifiable, like a moaning baaaaaa. Check out his shearing process on the Events page.
Jacobs were introduced into Britain as ornamental sheep for country estates and parks in the 18th century. The American Jacobs came to the US in the last 30 to 50 years. Jacobs are an ancient breed of sheep originating in biblical times in the Middle East. Genesis 30 describes a kind of selective breeding so Jacob (Israel) could keep all the spotted sheep of his father-in-law's flock. The American Jacob of today are considered Threatened, with less than 1,000 registered annually in the US and less than 5,000 worldwide. Their fleece is medium fine and 4.5 to 6.5 lbs, with a 3 to 6 inch staple length.
Our first ram was a Shetland from Jean Franklin at Spin Web Ranch in El Dorado Hills. Jean also taught me how to spin in 2005 - I love her! Sometimes we name our sheep based on their country of origin, historical figures or QT versions of the breed name. Since this was our first ram, we had to name him Dodge - his beautiful round horns required that name. A trip to UC Davis made him a wether, but he will always be our Dodge Ram ;) He sadly passed away last year, but we have his beautiful fleece from each shearing.
Shetland sheep developed in relative isolation on the Shetland Isles of Scotland since their possible introduction in the 8th century by Vikings. They have the finest fiber of all indigenous British breeds. Shetland is used for Fair Isle sweaters, tweeds and "wedding-ring" shawls. Their wool is spun into a very fine lace-weight yarn and knit into intricate lace shawls that can be pulled through a wedding ring. The sheep, and their fleeces are small, about 2 to 4 pounds per fleece and the staple length is 2 to 5 inches.
Sadly, Adelaide passed away from an unknown reason in 2012. The same year, Lucky 7 continued her mom's Merino legacy and delivered a ewe lamb we named 'Sydney'. Sydney is a cross between Merino and CVM, thanks to Thomas Jefferson's part.
Adelaide had a cute ewe lamb in 2010, with a well-defined number 7 emblazoned on her forehead - here's a triple 7 of 'Lucky 7'.
Our first ewe was a Merino from Ewe and Me 2 farm in Yuba City. We named her Adelaide and her fiber is consistently soft and dense. Merino is the finest of all sheep wool and fleeces range from 7 to 13 lbs. with a staple length of 2.5 to 4 inches. Most commercial wool produced is Merino.
Here's me with 'Adelaide' before shearing ... and on Adelaide's shorn fleece the following year.
We went to England in 2011 to visit James Herriot's Yorkshire and Beatrix Potter's Lake District. We went to Wensleydale and found great cheese, but didn't see the namesake sheep anywhere. At the tourist info, they were hard pressed to figure out where to direct us to see Wensleydales in Wensleydale. We finally found a beautiful farm to visit, but it turns out these sheep are pretty rare even where they originate from.
In Britain, they are one of the largest and heaviest breeds that descend from "Blue Cap," a Dishley Leicester ram, and a now-extinct Yorkshire longwool ewe sheep. Their milk was used for the original Wensleydale cheese. Our three Wensleydale sheep come for our sheep shearer's mom's flock in Idaho. She has been breeding to achieve the most genetically-purebred sheep possible in the U.S.
They have dark blue faces and are very curious and friendly. Their fleece is one of the finest of the luster longwools and falls from the body in a mass of loosely curling ringlets. The fleece weight is between 10 to 15 pounds and the staple length is between 5 to 12 inches.
'Wensley' is our white Wooly Wensley waiting 'Whimsical' is our white 'Silver Girl' is our black ewe Sliver Girl's shorter fleece
wether (castrated male) for his hair cut Wensleydale ewe with long locks before shearing for the summer months.
'Abigail Adams' (9/20/12) 'Abe Lincoln'' (3/1/14) 'Mary Todd' (3/1/14) 'Ben Frankin' & Bert (4/28/14)
Ewe lamb from Betsy & TJ Ewe lamb from Sally & TJ Ram lamb from Sally & TJ Ram lamb from Betsy & TJ
Prince Charles is Awesome!! Whatever you may think of him personally (and as Leonard Cohen would remind us "really, what's it to ya"), professionally, he is a pioneering genius in all aspects of sustainability. He is the original "green" advocate, continually working in the trenches, and against the frontlines, of environmental ignorance and ridicule. He was green way before it was cool, but the more people who catch on, the better - for all involved (and that means every living thing).
He also effectively leverages his unique privilege and position to bring attention to issues that don't have big corporate backing or huge advertising budgets. In his Campaign for Wool, he is the champion for the use of sheep products, which to us is more valuable than any superbowl ad. Sheep couldn't afford such an excellent spokesman so it's great HRH is doing it as a service for his country and beyond.
Wool funded many empires historically, yet in today's world, we no longer rely on wool as a staple resource for clothing or goods. Man-made synthetics like polar fleece or Goretex layers are typically chosen for warmth and water-resistance, over a fisherman's Aran or Guernsey sweater, these days. If you knew that man-made clothing is made out of gasoline, and therefore flammable, would you consider that in some of your choices in outerwear? If you knew that wool is a renewable resource that is natural and has more qualities than science has yet to fully replicate (and not flammable) - would you choose it sometimes? Find out more about wool here.
We still rely on man-made conveniences, but we can also make informed choices about sustainable alternatives that have an impact beyond the initial product purchase. The goal is not to restore wool to it's former glory, but to make it known that you have a choice! The more we are all inclined to choose lasting quality, over cheap quantity, the less disconnected we will be from the natural world created for us to live in AND take care of.
Prince Charles' book 'Harmony' has pride-of-place among staples like the Bible, Jefferson's 'Morals of Jesus' and other great resources on our shelves.
I took a class with Deborah Robson and got an opportunity to spin many different types of very rare breeds of sheep. My favorite from the class was the CVM/Romeldale. I did some research and found out it was one of the most critically-endangered sheep breeds. We chose this as our breed to breed since it produces wonderful fiber that gets softer with age. It also helps to keep the local rare breed around.
We visited Patti Sexton's farm, about 130 miles from us, to get our breeding trio: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemmings and Betsy Ross. Patti told us she was about 8 years old when her father's flock of all-white Romeldale sheep produced the first badger-faced "black sheep." This was not good because the entire clip (all fleeces produced on the farm) was bought by Pendleton and they would only accept white fleeces. Since they had to get the black sheep out of the breeding pool and off the farm, her father's colleague from UC Davis, Glen Eidman, took the sheep. Two years later, another black sheep was born in the Sexton flock, which was also expelled from the white-flock environment, again to Glen Eidman. Those two black sheep became the Adam and Eve for the beautiful California Varigated Mutants (CVMs) today!
We are fortunate to have obtained in September 2011, our breeding stock straight from the source-flock for the entire CVM breed. The wool is "next to skin soft" and hand spinners find a wealth of grey, brown and cream shades, which opens up many possibilities for the creative use of natural colors.
'Thomas Jefferson' 'Sally Hemmings' 'Betsy Ross' 'Dolly Madison' (11/15/11) 'John Adams' (12/18/11)
Ram from Sexton Flock Ewe from Sexton Flock Ewe from Sexton Flock from Sally & Sexton Ram from Betsy & Sexton Ram
Here is Thomas Jefferson, our CVM ram, being shorn by Tim Ohman. See more pix from previous barber sessions here. I blew it and held the phone "portrait" instead of "landscape" to record this so the video is condensed from both sides. I wouldn't have made that mistake with my Handycam because the convenient handle strap makes sure you hold it right. I did get it right with the alpaca shearing video here.
CVMs are super cute! Babies born at QT Farm
are available for sale, contact us for details.