Penny and Pearl have arrived on the farm!
I have wanted to add sheep to my fiber herd for years, but I always came up with a reason to put it off. Until this Spring that is, when various changes steamrolled my usual no-sheep-yet excuses. I talked to my partner and started doing more research on breeds that would work best for us. We spent a delightful day at the MD Sheep and Wool festival talking to shepherds, visiting sheep, collecting business cards, and buying fleece from our top 3 breeds.
We had narrowed down our choices and to my surprise I found that my #1 breed, Jacob sheep, had been replaced with the Hog Island sheep from Virginia. To further my research, I washed and spun the Hog Island fleece I’d purchased and loved the tweedy yarn it made. We visited Mt. Vernon, purchased a black fleece, and talked about buying a few wethers. P and I were busy planning fencing and sheep shelter. And that’s when I threw a wrench into the whole thing.
Thinking back to when I first started with llamas and alpacas, all of whom were rescues, I started wondering how often sheep show up in rescues. So, I pulled up the websites and poked around on the pages of the rescues in our area. Finding no sheep, I decided to check the Petfinder website for sheep in MD and PA. And there they were, two little Jacob sheep ewes at a rescue in PA. They were within a 2 hour drive, and Jacobs were #2 on my breed list. Uh oh.
When I sent the rescue’s link (http://oneliferescue.org/) to P, I expected to be reminded of our decision to start with Hog Island sheep. But, no. His question was “when are you getting those ewes?” He knows me well and is just as dedicated to animal welfare. I filled out the adoption application, emailed the rescue, and waited while they checked my references. We didn’t have to wait too long for our approval. Penny and Pearl would be coming home with us! We made arrangements to pick up the girls that Sunday afternoon, and got to work on the fence and sheep shed.
Today marks Penny and Pearl’s first full week with us. They are still quite young, and the folks at the rescue did a wonderful job with them. The girls are curious, friendly, and surprisingly affectionate. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of the beautiful Jacob fleece. Hog Island sheep are still on our list, but right now I’m going to concentrate on these two girls, and learn as much as I can about shepherding before we begin growing our flock.