Here at Bear Creek Farm, it’s not just the harvest season … it’s also breeding season! We have an amazing collection of adorable sheep, and this is the time of year where we play matchmaker to help the flock grow.
Late October/early November is breeding season because it’s been about 5 months since our ewes were shorn in April. This means they’ve had time to regrow their fleece. This protects them in the winter, and then when they lamb in the spring, they’re ready to be shorn again which makes birth cleaner.
Every sheep breed has a different wool type. Some have fine fleece, some dense; sometimes their wool gets long, other times it stays relatively short. For example, Teeswater sheep produce long, large fibers with a fantastic curl. They’re very stylish.
When we breed this time of year, we try to keep pure Romney sheep, as their wool is our favorite for needle felting. But we also cross-breed, both for cuteness and to find new combinations that make good wool! We have crossed some breeds four different ways, which leads to some unique and wonderful lambs that give diverse, beautiful wool.
This season, we have more breeds than ever to introduce rams to ewes, so we’re expecting an amazing variety of lambs and therefore wool varieties!
For example, we recently welcomed more Corriedale sheep to the farm. Their wool is ideal for yarn-spinners. Plus, the sheep have adorable faces and docile personalities.
We also introduced California Variegated Mutant (CVM) sheep this year. These cross-breeds have unique patterns and colors in their dense, dark fleece that makes for some excellent wool. One unique characteristic of this breed is that they have soft fur rather than fleece on their faces.
What will happen when our Corriedale and CVM flocks’ rams and ewes meet each other? We’re sure the sparks will fly!
This cross-breeding also promotes the health of our sheep by preventing inbreeding and growing populations of endangered breeds.
Come spring, we’ll be ready to welcome adorable new lambs and unique types of wool. On our farm, we skirt the wool (prepare it for use) right after shearing to help keep things tidy. Excess wool shearings are used to fertilize our crops as an environmentally friendly alternative. Waste not!
In short, our sheep are truly the life force of our farm. We’re grateful to them for the wool they provide, their fascinating social and breeding behaviors, and of course, their overall cuteness!