We are currently maintaining a small flock of commerical Cheviot-based ewes and lambs. We select for vigor, feed efficiency on grass, fleece quality and ease of lambing management. A select number of lambs and mature rams are available each year, contact us for more information. Handspinning fleeces available in the spring...we sell out quickly, see the fleece page for details.
The Cheviot breed is one of the oldest in the world. When the Spanish Armada set sail to conquer England they carried sheep in the hull of the ship for meat rations. When one ship wrecked on the shores of England some of these ration sheep swam to shore - hence the legend that the Cheviot is from up "out of the sea". These few sheep spread out and thrived in the Cheviot Hills, in the Border Region between England and Scotland. The breed's history here in America is equally rich - the first Cheviots being imported to Canada and New York in the 1840's by Scottish immigrants. The Cheviot, because of its many desirable traits has been the foundation of many of Scotland's hardiest breeds (North Country Cheviots and Scottish Blackface to name two).
The Cheviot has a medium fine fleece (50-56's spin count) and a generous staple length (4 to 5 inches) which made it the foundation fiber of the world renowned Scotch Tweed industry. For today's handspinner, Cheviot wool is an excellent fiber to work with for the novice or expert spinner. The novice will enjoy the wool's easy to spin, impossible to felt qualities, while the expert will appreciate the durability that Cheviot wool adds to a finished garment. Cheviots are shorn once a year, usually in the spring before lambing and yield an average of 8 pounds per head. We have heavily skirted fleeces available after shearing which are very clean and lovely to spin, but we sell out within a few days, so reservations are recommended.
Borders are an alert breed, with characteristic "rabbit ears" that point straight up in the air. Cheviots are one of the smaller commercial breeds, weighing between 130 and 200 pounds at maturity. This manageable size makes them incredibly efficient grass to lamb converters which means we can sit back and watch our lambs grow big and strong on pasture and free-choice mineral.
Cheviot ewes experience few lambing problems, the lambs are vigorous, and ewes are fiercely protective and attentive mothers. Wet conditions are intolerable to many breeds of sheep and cause scald (a condition of the feet caused by terminally wet conditions - similar to athelete's foot). The Cheviots however, have hard black hooves and a heritage of suffering through wet conditions without developing lameness - in fact I would say the breed thrives on sogginess and we see nary a lame sheep in sight.
Cheviots are a popular choice among herding dog trainers because they stay "fresh" longer than other breeds when being worked frequently by stockdogs. This is an added bonus to us, as we both train and compete nationally with our herding dogs, but nonetheless the soundness of the breed itself has been what has attracted us to Cheviots from a livestock producer's point of view.
We maintain a three-way cross between Cheviot, Border Leicester and production Dorset. Our resulting flock has lambed in conditions ranging from snow storms in Ohio to 90 degree heat in Texas. They readily adapt to any climate and grass-based production system.
We cull individuals quickly if for any reason we need to doctor or deworm them apart from regular flock health maintenance. If we need to assist in any way with lambing or getting lambs to nurse, those individuals are culled. As a result, we have to pull a lamb once every 5 or 6 years and a bottle lamb is a very rare occurance indeed.
Each year we offer for private sale approximately a dozen ewe lambs. Contact us to put your name on the waiting list.