Friday, March 18, 2011

And then came the Sheep

As mentioned in my first post, Annie my Aussie and I have started stock lessons. Annie is shall I say a bit over the top -she's just so excited to be with the stock. I'm very happy to see her enthusiasm considering how hard it is to get her motivated in other events, but do need to find a way to moderate her desires. At $35.00 a lesson how much will it cost just to get her to settle so that she (and I ) can be trained? My solution? Get some sheep of my own so she can watch them. We're certainly not ready to practice with them yet but I figure just letting her see, smell and be around them should help her relax a bit for our lessons.

Annie's first time on sheep about a year ago...look at those eyes

Now it's time to decide what kind of sheep to purchase. I've browsed the herding boards, observed the sheep we work with for our lessons, talked to our instructor and basically absorbed everything I can about sheep for the last month. At first I thought perhaps I'd get some shetlands -they are so incredibly cute, look at these guys:
Shetland Sheep

But as I read more, it seems these little cuties aren't the ideal sheep for herding, first of all they have wool which means dealing with shearing (or rooing if lucky enough to have sheep that will shed) and they aren't the best flocking sheep which makes them difficult to herd and not a beginner herding sheep.

Dorpers are popular around here and are easy to find (we're not in sheep country so there isn't a huge selection of breeds to choose from). I practice on a mostly dorper flock and you can't beat their temperament. Here's some of the flock we practice on with their lambs:

Barbados Blackbellies are another popular sheep for herding. Their small size appeals to me, as well as their coloring and they are a hair sheep. I'm not so sure about the rams and their horns though -I guess I don't need a ram (or not yet anyway).

Barbados Sheep

While researching barbados, I stumbled upon "Painted Desert Sheep" These are a breed of sheep developed in Texas by crossing Mouflon,Rambouillet, Merino with Blackbellies. They are built like a barbados but have "painted" markings like a paint horse. I have decided this is the breed of sheep I'd like to try.

I have scanned the craigslist postings and have located a farmer with a herd of barbados/painted desert sheep priced reasonably in Kingston, OK so I plan on taking a look to see what he has on Monday.

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