Meet the Flock!
Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Our flock consists of 13 adult sheep. They are Icelandic Sheep originating in, you guessed it, Iceland! This breed is very well adapted for our climate because Iceland also has cold, windy winters and mild summers. These sheep were brought to Iceland by vikings and allowed to graze the island for centuries. Natural selection and tough terrain/climate have really whittled this breed of sheep down to the best of the best.
Here are some quick facts that make this breed so cool and such a great fit for the Centennial Valley. Icelandic wool growth averages 1 inch per month- thus many flocks are sheared twice a year! Icelandics have a natural wool break in the spring where their old wool separates from their new wool. If it is not removed, this old wool will felt onto the new wool creating a heavy and thick layer that makes it hard to be a sheep, aaaaaa! Icelandic sheep are a true triple purpose breed. They are prolific milk-producing sheep with very fine, luxurious, and colorful wool, and they yield a tender, mild meat as well! Sheep milk is higher in nutrients and cream than cow's milk and goat's milk and it is easier to digest than both of these. (One of my favorite aspects about these sheep as an unfortunately lactose-intolerant person...) I would argue they are a quadruple purpose breed because their hides and skulls make stunning home decor- as many of these sheep have fast-growing and beautiful horns.
Our flock currently consists of: 12 ewes (females) 1 ram (male) annnnddd the adorable 2020 lambs!
Alrighty, now that you know just how cool Icelandic Sheep are, are you ready to meet the Taste of the Wind Flock?! Here we go!
Byrne- whose name means 'raven' Is a solid black ewe. She has a very nice set of horns and she is raising a solid black ewe lamb this year- named Circe which also means 'powerful black bird'. Byrne is one of our more timid sheep, but her daughter is very bold. Circe joins me on the milking stand every morning to sneak sunflower seed snacks and scratches behind her quickly-growing horns while I milk out the ewes.
Byrne produced a wonderful black Virgin Lamb Fleece 1 year of wool growth. She was the first ewe I sheared this year though, so it came off in a couple of pieces. Because of this, this fleece will probably be better for felting projects rather than spinning/making yarn.
Chinook- Named after the warm winds that come off the Rockies to melt off snow and uncover forage for the fellow ungulates of the West, is a black grey ewe with the largest set of horns in the bunch. She is my most well-rounded sheep as she always has a full bag of milk, she produced one of the heaviest, longest and most beautiful fleeces, and she is of nice meaty/stocky build! Her son, Ragnar is a chunky Badgerface Ram Lamb who is already sold as a breeding-ram-to-be and is growing strong and sturdy just like his mom!
Chinook produced this almost-blue Virgin Lamb Fleece with chocolate colored wisps, which we sheared this Spring- this is 1 full year of wool growth.
Inky- Inky is one of our smaller ewes. She has not yet lambed as she probably wasn't fully mature during breeding season last fall. She is a gorgeous solid black and her freshly-sheared wool looked and felt just like velvet. Inky is shy and likes to hang out with the bachelor rams in her free-time. She is starting to bag up- which means she is starting to produce milk. This is a sign that she will have a cute little summer lamb soon!
Inky Produced a Solid Black Virgin Lamb Fleece with some reddish-brown wisps that was 1 year of wool growth
Teasel- Is the ewe on the farthest right in the photo below. She is a Badgerface pattern- I just love her markings! She is actually a very light-colored badgerface, they range from almost white to very dark brown. Her little ram lamb is also a very lightly-colored badgerface who has a very cute high-pitched "baaaaaa." Teasel often is found laying in the shade of some tall sagebrush or some pine trees babysitting a large group of lambs as the other ewes are out grazing. She is very attentive to all the lambs she is in charge of. Teasel was born a triplet, and we have her sister Chip in our flock as well. Teasel is a great mother with lots of milk and had a very large lamb for her small stature.
Teasel produced a beautiful Badgerface Virgin Lamb Fleece which was 1 full year of wool growth.
Nancy and Wanda- Are Jacob sheep, a very old breed that produces a very fluffy and thick fleece. Nancy is black and white and Wanda is Grey and White. Neither of these beautiful ladies have lambed yet because we acquired them a lot later in the year. They both will probably lamb this fall. They both have very nice sets of curved horns that are almost completely curled around once already! Nancy produced a Black and White Piebald fleece that looks like clouds in the sky, Wanda produced a Grey and White spotted fleece both of which we sheared this spring. Jacobs are usually only shorn once per year.
Puck- is a black grey ewe who is quite sassy and skittish. She will eat sunflower seeds, peas, strawberries, and slices of bread out of my hand, but she won't trust me enough to let me touch her. She is calming down with the daily milking routine, but her black grey lamb Hippo (short for Hippolyta) is proving to be just as sassy and weary as she is!
Puck produced a nice Black Grey Virgin Lamb Fleece which was also 1 full year of wool growth. It has a mix of very dark and very light streaks in it and had a striking black dorsal stripe.
Lotus- is a gorgeous, soft cream/champagne color with little bitty horns. She is the milkiest ewe in the flock and always keeps her lamb's belly super full and has more milk to spare! She is a very sweet ewe, she likes to take babysitting shifts with Teasel, sitting in the shade and chewing her cud while she watches over the flock's lambs. She had the tallest lamb born in the flock by far! He was exceptionally long and lanky from day one, but he sure is filling out to be a stout and chunky little boy now! He is the same color as Lotus and just a cute. He enjoys scratches around the horns on the milking stand while he waits for his mom to finish up her sunflower seed treats every morning.
Lotus produced a super fluffy and long Champagne Virgin Lamb Fleece. She sheared very smoothly in the spring, her fleece is also 1 full year of wool growth.
Dusty- Is a funny ewe- she has NO manners. She is always shoving to the front of the group to see what's going on and jumping up on me to try to get anything that even looks like it could be food in my hands! She had a very vigorous black grey lamb with huge horns and he is just as rambunctious as she is. They are a fun pair to watch out in the pasture. Dusty produced one of the largest fleeces with pretty evenly mixed light and dark strands.
Majo- is a beautiful and smart solid black ewe who has no horns, but due to her wits-she is the leader of the group. She always knows where to find the best food and shelter. She was the first ewe of the group to let me touch her and she is always very friendly and intelligent. She had a very cute little black grey ram lamb that unfortunately fell in the creek and did not survive. My heart was broken to hear her calling for him after he disappeared. We have become pretty close buddies since though, because it has become my job to keep Majo milked out enough to keep her producing milk. She always has a full udder at milking time and she has some of the best tasting milk in the flock. Majo is also a very adventurous eater. She loves wildflowers like rocky mountain forget-me-nots and she also loves to munch on willow buds. Majo produced one of the biggest fleeces in the flock. It is solid black with really beautiful reddish-orange wisps. Her fleece was also one full year of wool growth.
Hygge- is almost identical to Dusty and with almost as much sass, but she has horns and thankfully a set of manners. She had a really cute and curly brown/Moorit ram lamb who has been zippy and strong since day one. Hygge is an independant soul and she doesn't mind wandering away from the flock every once and a while to find some solace... fortunately our Livestock Guardian Dog Hector knows to check on her when she decides to branch out from the group.
Hygge produced a large Moorit/Brown Grey Virgin Fleece which was also one full year of growth.
Chip- is Teasel's twin sister and is the smallest ewe in our flock. Because of this she has not yet lambed, but I think a baby bump is starting to appear as we get further along into the spring, yeah!!!! Chip is pretty skittish and has a beautiful set of curved horns. She is a darker badgerface than her sister Teasel.
Chip produced a small Badgerface Virgin Fleece which was also one full year of growth.
Last but not least is our ram, Oberon. He arrived here in March and seems excited to be part of our flock as they graze the Centennial Valley! He is a unique color pattern called Mouflon (basically the opposite of a black badgerface). He also carries a a rare grey pattern gene so he is a Grey-Black Mouflon. His fleece was very felted underneath when he came to us so I will be making a vegetarian rug out of it as half the work is already done for me!
Oberon is a sweet guy, calm and gentle with sheep and human. He is a pleasure to have in the flock and I'm very excited to have his genetics in our flock!
Oh, wait! Don't forget our Livestock Guardian Dog Hector-the-Protector!
Without Hector our flock would not be able to free-range as much as they do. We have a LOT of predators in this area including coyotes, mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, foxes, skunks, badgers, raptors, and some even say they have seen wolves here... Hector has done a great job so far at reminding them all to keep their distance from here.
Hector came from a large sheep ranch in Kemmerer, WY- Julian Land and Livestock. He was probably a bit confused when he first saw our sheep because they are very different looking from the Rambouillet sheep he was in charge of before, but he settled right in and claimed our Icelandics as his own. From the moment he got to the Anywhere Ranch was bound and determined to keep the foxes that had been hanging around out of the sheep pen and even out the chicken coop!
Good job Hector!
I hope you enjoyed getting to virtually meet the flock. The fleeces mentioned above will be available for sale at Cowgirl Yarn in Laramie starting this week! Stay healthy and please enjoy the Spring!
-BJ and the Taste of the Wind Flock