We are in the process of reducing the size of our handspinner's flock, so we are not saving any of our lambs to be part of our flock.
But our new fiber friend Katie has started a handspinner's flock of her own near Ft. Collins. She's got some beautiful little lambs from Sister Sheep.
Sadly, we said goodbye to our ram Willy who died this summer. He was 100% CVM and sired 8 of our beautiful ewes and our newest ram Coriander, born in spring 2012.
2014 New Sheep
We did not save any of our lambs this year, but we did acquire 6 new ewes from a handspinner's flock. 5 are CVM and one is a CVM/BFL (Blue Faced Leicester) cross.
2013 Lambs - Tasha and Olwyn and Frisky Myrtle
Once again this year, Aretha was our first ewe to lamb on May 28 - a beautiful ewe lamb - we named her Tasha, a nod to our wonderful summer intern, Tasha Gustafson. We also added Olwyn to our flock, a beautiful dark ewe with a black face and a great Welsh name. She is named in honor of Sarah and Julie's mom who passed on this year. We also kept a frisky white lamb whom we named Myrtle in honor Myrtle Dow who has mentored us in our sheep journey - she was too quick to get a photo!
Here are Olwyn and Tasha sporting their new jackets.
Sadly, we said goodbye to our stud ram "Bo", Mr. Bojangles, who died during the summer. He has provided us with many beautiful lambs and the most gorgeous fiber! There are lots of folks out there with Bo yarn and garments.
2012 Lambs - Spice Girls
This year our naming theme was spices. We had 41 lambs this year - not all became part of our handspinners flock. Some went to other flocks and some were sold for meat.
Our first born ewe lamb was Poppy. She is full bred CVM/Romeldale. We also have a full bred Rambouillet, a big beautiful ewe lamb we named Saffron. Our other ewe lambs are Paprika, Ginger, Nutmeg, Lavender, and Addie (not a spice name - rather she was named in memory of Flo's mother-in-law). We also have a beautiful ram lamb named Coriander. All are colored lambs!
This year we said goodbye to Roscoe, one of our Rambouillet rams. Roscoe has brought us some beautiful ewes and our wonderful stud ram Bo. Roscoe was sold to another handspinners flock and he has already produced babies for them. Thanks, Roscoe!
Jane and the Flower Girls... and Boys - Our 2011 Lambs
In 2011, we added 7 lambs to our handspinners flock. We named them after flowers, except for the little ewe lamb that came to the Recycled Lamb Annual Fleece Market Day on May 7. She was named Jane in honor of Flo's mother who passed on just before the Fleece Market. Jane, Petunia and Violet are colored ewe lambs, Dandelion and Chrysanthemum are colored ram lambs, and Jonquil and Cosmos are white ewe lambs. Here's Julie with Jane at the Recycled Lamb.
Our 2010 Lambs Include Lots of Color
Our 2010 lambs include many with beautiful natural colors from cream to pearl grey to black. Our color range is growing, and we are pleased to be able to offer a variety of color as well as white that is excellent for dyeing or blending with other natural colors to add to the natural color palette. Here is Sarah holding our beautiful kid, Charlotte. These lambs were named after characters in the Australian hit drama McLeod's Daughters about two sisters who run a cattle and sheep station in southern Australia. Claire, Tess, Meg and Charlotte all have fleece in varying shades of grey. Jodi and Jill have beautiful big white fleeces - Jill's is 100% Rambouillet. Gwyneth had a beautiful charcoal fleece but sadly she died during the winter. Charlie had a light to medium grey variegated fleece, and he was sold to another flock.
2009 Lambs - a Presidential Group
In 2009, to mark the end of the U.S. Presidential election cycle, we named our ewe lambs after First Ladies and our ram lambs after former Presidents. Martha and Abigail were born first and second, so their names were obvious! Our third white 50/50 ewe lamb is Eliza, named after Andrew Johnson's wife. We had some beautifully colored ram lambs - Grover, Rutherford and William Taft. Grover and Rutherford eventually were sold to other flocks, and William Taft had his name shortened to Willy Taft in a nod to Sarah's son whose nickname is Willy.
2008 Was a BIG Year
In 2008, we kept eight of our ewe lambs and we named them after female vocalists. This has been a beautiful group of fleeces, and we have fun when skirting because so many of them are "rock stars"! All are 50/50 Rambouillet/CVM crosses with Jack as their sire. They are Dolly (Parton), Wynona (Judd), Bonnie (Raitt), Grace (Slick), Rosemary (Clooney), Melissa (Ethridge), Emmylou (Harris), and Madeline Mae (not a singer we know of - there has to be an exception!)
In 2008 we also acquired a ewe lamb we named Aretha from Roy and Myrtle Dow (pioneers in sheep raising for handspinners, now retired), a beautiful dark grey to charcoal Romeldale/CVM who is adding her CVM genes to our breeding program. 2008 also produced Mr. Bojangles, fondly known as Bo. Bo is pure Rambouillet, sired by our Rambouillet ram Roscoe, and he is now one of our sire rams.
2007 - Adding Romeldale/CVM Heritage Breed
With the addition of Captain Jack as our sire ram, we began to breed for longer staple length, denser fleece, and color. Of the lambs born in spring 2007, we kept three white ewe lambs - Blodwyn, Clarice and Flossie - and a beautiful grey ram lamb we named Biggie Smalls and kept as a wether (neutered male).
Growing Our Flock and Introducing Color - Meet Our Rams
In 2006, we introduced the Romeldale-CVM heritage breed into our flock when we purchased a Romeldale-CVM ram that we named Captain Jack from Roy and Myrtle Dow, Black Pines Sheep of Eaton, Colorado (now retired). Our goal was to add staple length, density, and natural color. Here's Jack and his gorgeous fleece!
In 2014, Captain Jack died. As our original foundation sire, Jack sired about half of the sheep in our flock at the time of his death, including most recently our 2013 CVM ewe Tasha.
In 2007 we purchased a 100% Rambouillet ram named Roscoe, again from Roy and Myrtle Dow. Here he is in the trailer with Julie, ready for his first day at Sister Sheep! He looks like a little guy in this picture, but he's our biggest ram. Rambouillet are bigger sheep than Romeldale CVM. Roscoe's fleece is usually about 6 pounds - after skirting! In 2012, Roscoe was sold to another handspinners flock.
In 2008, Roscoe and one of our original ewes, Mafanwy, produced Mr. Bojangles (Bo), a dark to light grey naturally colored 100% Rambouillet ram. In 2009, he joined Roscoe and Jack as a sire ram. Check out his amazing fleece - three shades of grey! Bo died in the summer of 2013, and his fleece lives on in many fiber households.
In 2009, we produced a 100% CVM ram lamb that we named Willy Taft. In 2011, Willy became our 4th sire ram. His fleece is mostly white with taupe markings. Here he is wearing his ribbon from the 2011 Estes Park Wool market.
In 2011, Jack and Aretha produced another 100% CVM ram lamb that we named Dandelion - we call him Dandy. He has a beautiful dark grey fleece. He took up his sire duties at the end of 2012.
In 2012, Willy Taft and our ewe Tess produced a ram lamb we named Coriander (it was the spice themed year). He is a CVM/Rambouillet cross, more CVM than Rambouillet. Coriander began his sire duties in 2013.
The Original Seven Ewes
Sarah, our rancher sister, fondly known as Bo Peep, did her research when we decided to raise fleece. She wanted animals that would thrive in northeastern Colorado's climate and she wanted animals that would be good mothers. She settled on Rambouillet, a dual purpose (fleece and meat) breed that is found throughout the western United States. She located a breeder in Wyoming who sold her 7 pregnant ewes. We recruited friends to help us start this venture - $200 to buy into the flock along with naming rights. Our first seven ewes were named Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, Mafanwy and Maglona (Welsh names from Julie and Sarah's family heritage), and Nanette (a lovely French name to go with the Rambouillet name).
In the spring of 2006, these ewes had their lambs and we kept five - Mary Lou, Mary Jean, Emma, Elsie and Becky Jane - names chosen by the folks who had financed our venture continuing to exercise their naming rights!
In summer 2014, our last original ewe, Ethel, died. She was born in 2004, living 10 years and producing some beautiful additions to our flock, specifically twins Dolly and Wynonna sired by Captain Jack and born in 2008, and our big Rambouillet Jill, sired by Roscoe and born in 2010. As with all of our sheep, Ethel got to live out her last non-breeding years on the ranch.
Day One of Sister Sheep, as told by Sarah:
December 2005 - We drove to Wyoming to pick up 7 pregnant Rambouillet ewes. It was 5 degrees and snowing. I had built pens to specifications recommended to me by neighbors who have Suffolk sheep, a smaller animal than Rambouillet.
We unloaded the sheep and were anxious to get into the house to warm up and start celebrating our new adventure with some lamb stew that I had made.
As we stood there admiring our sheep, Laverne had this wild look in her eye (she's the one on the far left). I felt bad for her because I assumed she was scared and not sure of her new surroundings. All of a sudden, she started running. Up over the panel she went and started heading south. We all stood there dumbfounded! I took off after her on foot and the others got into pickups. Not sure how to catch a sheep in an open field, we at least kept track of her.
To make a very long, cold story short, after chasing Laverne for what was well over 5 miles, I called our vet. He arrived with a dart gun and was able to get two darts in her. He said to just keep up with her and she would eventually drop down. Well, she did just that, but it took much longer than he anticipated and, of course, she did not pick the most convenient place to land! We lifted all 150 pounds of her up and out of a deep ditch, loaded her in the trailer, and that is where she spent the night along with the water and hay I put in there for her.
I asked the vet how the dart might affect Laverne, since she was hopefully bred. He was more worried about the running she had done, fearing that it might have deprived the babies of energy they needed. That spring Laverne had twins. It was my intention to sell her, but after seeing her beautiful twins and what a good mom she was, she earned the right to stay on the ranch and be part of Sister Sheep.
About Rambouillet Sheep
Rambouillet sheep get their name from the estate of King Louis XVI at Rambouillet, France. In 1786 a flock of pure Spanish Merinos was established. After careful breeding with other Merino flocks, the Rambouillet breed became a distinct entity.
They were introduced to the United Stated from the French royal flock and they became the foundation of most of the United States's western range breeds. They are gregarious and well-adapted foragers who thrive in arid conditions. Rambouillet have acceptable meat quality, but are raised primarily for their high-quality fine wool.
The fleece is very soft and has a pronounced crimp which gives it extremely good elasticity and excellent loft. Rambouillet wool can be used for baby wear and next-to-the-skin knitted or woven fabrics. It is also an excellent choice for blending with fine exotic fibers.
Their superior, high quality fleece makes it a favorite among hand spinners with a real ease in spinning and an extreme soft quality that may be worn comfortably next to the skin.
About Romeldale-CVM heritage Breed Sheep
The Romeldale breed was developed in the United States in California by A. T. Spencer who purchased New Zealand Marsh Romney rams at the 1915 Pan American Exposition in San Francisco. He bred these rams to his American Rambouillet sheep to upgrade the wool and meat qualities of his flock.
CVM stands for California Variegated Mutant. The CVM originated in the United States as a naturally colored variant of the Romeldale breed. It was developed during the 1970s when Glen Eidman discovered a colored ewe lamb and later a colored ram lamb in his all-white Romeldale flock. He bred for their distinct genetic characteristics. The CVM shares many of the Romeldale characteristics, especially the production of a heavy fleece with fine wool and good staple length.
Romeldale-CVM have a superior, high quality fleece that makes it a favorite among hand spinners for its ease in spinning and its soft quality that may be worn comfortably next to the skin. The naturally colored fleece often contains multiple shadings within a single fleece, making for beautiful tweed yarns and other opportunities for creativity in spinning.
Robson, Deborah & Ekarius, Carol. The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More than 200 Fibers from Animal to Spun Yarn. Storey Publishing, 2011.
Russo, Robin. Fiber Basics: CVM – otherwise known as California Variegated Mutant. Spin Off Magazine, summer 2009, pp. 72 – 76.
Fournier, Nola and Fournier, Jane. In Sheep’s Clothing: A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool. Interweave Press, 1995.
American Romeldale/CVM Association (ARCA), www.arcainc.org