My sheep breeding program is different from most shepherds I know. We have a great market for fleeces, yarn and knitted items but last year I sold 130 lambs for slaughter so I need something gorgeous that grows well on grass with little human intervention.
Thankfully I have Kim Caulfield from Far Out Farm directing my breeding program, without whom I don't know where we would be. Kim has been mentioning Martin Macqueen and his stunning North Country Cheviots at High Road Sheep Farm for years, believing that some of the North Country blood in my flock would bring me closer than ever to my goals.
Once I finally made contact with Martin I found him to be an amazing man, shepherd, and storyteller. If I manage to glean a minuscule amount of his knowledge I will be a much better farmer for it. Thankfully through his website, High Road Sheep he has passed along plenty of wisdom about farming and his sheep breeding philosophy as well as some fascinating stories and photos from his trips back to his native Scotland.
With a bit of luck I had stashed away for just a time as this, my call found only one ram left and I knew I had to snatch him up there and then. He was delivered to the North American Livestock Expo last week and is now with his girls. He wasted no time and bred the first ewe within two minutes of being in the field so we are expecting babies five and half months from Thursday.
Here is what we are expecting to be on the ground at River Cottage Farm
by the beginning of May. Katie's reaction was "cute or creepy, I not sure". I vote for cute!
The North Country Cheviot sheep have fine wool but are very hardy and can be maintained with a minimum of input from humans. They date back to the time of Columbus and their first introduction into Scotland occurred in 1791 when 500 sheep were transported from England to Scotland to improve the quality of both carcass and wool in the Highlands.
Keep an eye out for this stunner when you come out to the farm shop. He's not hard to spot since he's the only one with ears standing straight up. He's a little different looking but the girls don't seem to mind it.
We are still trying to come with a good name for him. I think he needs a good Scottish name to keep him in good stead with the company he's keeping these days. He has been paying quite a bit of attention to Blanche Dubois and Coco Chanel (my two French Lacaune dairy sheep). We would be happy for all and any suggestions.