The sheared ones are Navajo-Churro.
A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a friend. She called asking if I had a dog kennel she could borrow. I didn't, but she had me curious as she mentioned it wasn't for a dog. She explained about some sheep that were available and she needed it for transporting them in the back of her vehicle.
Thus began a conversation that will soon mean the arrival of a small flock of Navajo-Churro sheep to our homestead on Saturday.
The lady who is selling them needs a knee replacement. Since she cares for all of her animals alone, she needed to reduce the amount of animals she has on her farm. I was able to buy the sheep for what it would have cost her to send them to a butcher - about 1/4 of their usual cost.
We have been talking about adding sheep or goats or even pigs to the farm here in order to help clear some land. We have a lot of forest on the 100 acres we live on and we are trying to reclaim some of it to use for gardening. In all of our discussions we had settled on looking to add meat goats next year. However, my friend called and changed everything.
In the research I have been doing on the Navajo-Churro breed I have discovered that this particular breed is more like goats than sheep. They are foragers and even classified as excellent foragers which means if they are given enough room to forage, they need little to no supplementation in hay. The ewes are very protective of their lambs and will even stand up to a dog - not a typical sheep behavior. They have a coarse wool which grows in two layers - an inner fleece and an outer protective coat. They are also an endangered breed. The history behind this breed is very interesting.
The Navajo-Churro breed is a desert sheep - bred for the use by the Navajo Native Americans. They were cross-bred with sheep imported from Europe. At the beginning of the 1900s the government went in and began killing off the flocks in order to try to control the Navajo. This is one main reason they are still an endangered breed.
My plans at this point is to learn as much as I possibly can about sheep. I've been reading books, websites, and talking to more people than I can keep track of. I carry around a notebook to jot down information. This isn't just my project though. My boys are in 4H so next summer my plan is for each of them to have their own lamb to show at the fairs.
My flock is small - for now - and I plan to keep it that way. I'll be getting one ram (and yes, I snapped a couple pics but he was in the barn and the lighting was horrid and my camera had a hard time "finding" him. He is black and was in a dark stall) and five ewes. While the ewes could become pregnant any time my goal is not to breed them until late December/January (this year at least). That way my lambs will be born on pasture in the spring since we don't have a barn for them to live in. They will have a small shelter but I'm not sure how that will work for warmth at this point. While this is my plan we'll see if the sheep will agree to it. Although, it does appear that one of the ewes may be expecting sooner than we thought!
The lady I am purchasing them from has been wonderful. She's talked to me many times on the phone and today the boys & I headed to her house to meet the sheep. They are all very shy and skittish so as we came in to the pasture they started steadily walking away - thus the quality of the photos. We'll be working hard over the next few months to make them a bit more socialized to us.
I plan to continue blogging about our new adventure. My hubby has been awesome about financing - yet again - one of my whims. When I first called to ask him about doing this he immediately and adamantly said no way! However, I convinced him to let me ask his father if he would be willing to build me anything I needed as long as we paid for it. His father just retired in August so has a bit more time than my hubby. My FIL agreed and the rest, as they like to say, is history.