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Kindergarten Farm

Babydoll Southdown Sheep and Miniature Horses

Babydoll Southdown Sheep

Our family has been raising registered Old English Babydoll Southdown sheep for over twenty years. We breed for excellence in conformation and mothering ability/udders. We also like a good fleece. We have sheared, carded, spun, and knitted their wool, milked them and made various cheeses, and butcher lambs for our freezers each year.  We also sell breeding stock to help other producers start or strengthen their flocks.

Our flock was established by Janette in the mid-90s with a pair of sheep which were part of the foundation flock when the classic-style Southdowns were renamed Babydolls and established as a breed.  It is now managed by us, Ben and Laura, Janette and Bill’s son’s family. Lambing happens at our place, 5 miles west of the home farm.   The flock has really grown on us, both literally and figuratively, since the shepherding torch was passed to us a few years back.

We are members of both the North American Babydoll Southdown Sheep Registry (NABSSAR) and the Olde English Babydoll Registry (OEBR):

NABSSAR
Olde English Babydoll Registry

We expect to have lambs available each year.  Lambing will be in April; weaning in July.

rachel-snowball

 

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Miniature Horses

The original breeding stock for miniature horses came from the ‘pit’ ponies or Shetland ponies used the coal mines in Wales and England.  Their descendants still exhibit impressive strength for their size, and our ponies often surprise people with what they can pull and carry.

Janette raises registered miniature horses as well as some Shetland crosses, and uses them to introduce children to the joy of riding, driving, grooming, and handling ponies.  Many of her animals have been to the county fair, summer camp for handicapped children, nursing homes, and farm education events for elementary students.  They are 28-36 inches tall, and gentle and friendly.
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The Black Sheep of the Family

…a note about babydoll color, plus 2020 lambing news

20200426_0930472020 lambing is almost complete. We have a nice group of babies, including 3 sets of healthy triplets! Ewes, rams, and wethers available. Pictures of available lambs are now up on the “Sheep for Sale” page.

Babydoll southdown sheep come in black and white (also called off-white). There are also a few spotted ones, which we don’t have in our flock and are not recognized by all babydoll registries. Within those colors, there is some variation. A white lamb is born with darker color on its legs and parts of its face, from light peach to all shades of grey and brown.

A black lamb is born the color of coal, then usually fades grayer to some degree as it ages, though the muzzle, ears, and legs stay black. The tips of its wool bleach in the sun, making it look brown unless it has been recently shorn.

Occasionally a “black factor white” lamb is born to a black and a white sheep bred to each other. These lambs have bright white leg and facial wool, do not meet the breed standard, and should not be registered. We haf one of these lambs pop up several years ago – see pictures if Snowball’s triplets in my post “Lambs!” from 2017. Ideally, black is bred to black, and white to white, though each shepherd makes breeding decisions based on many factors and what is important in their flock.

I love the variety of colors I see when my lambs are born. I especially like to see nice solid dark or cinnamon colored legs in my white babies, like Gem, below right. For more on babydoll color, see the breed standards posted on the registry websites.20200427_103428

Upside to life in a pandemic?

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It’s easy to practice social distancing on horseback! With Mary’s college classes now online, she’s at home and has been riding a lot. We usually take the 3 full-sized horses out together, and we’ve put about 25 miles on them in the past couple of weeks. Triton is listed for sale, but I’ve been having so much fun riding him I’m happy he hasn’t sold yet (update – Triton is no longer for sale; Mary has decided to keep him.)

While we are enjoying spending time with our animals and children, we are also thinking of and praying for all those suffering during this stressful time.

Stallion Retiring

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Calaway’s life work has not been to entertain children, but as it turns out, he’s pretty good at it. He has done his jobs – first as a show horse, then as a breeding stallion – well. Yesterday we decided to test him out for a new job; children’s pony. First, Janette’s 6 year old granddaughter led him around. They were getting along well, so we put her 4 year old brother on his back. He didn’t even flinch. (This probably isn’t the first time he’s been ridden – we can’t remember.) After wandering around happily for awhile (closely supervised), they declared him to have passed. He’s been retired from breeding, and is for sale as a pet (update 6/22/20 SOLD). We have also recently added several beautiful shetland/mini crosses to the Horses for Sale tab.

Shear Numbers

20190620_133339Babydoll fleece is considered short-stapled. At shearing this year (back in March) I measured the wool of each sheep just before it came off. Each fleece had a range of lengths, and I recorded the longer parts, usually the side of the neck/shoulder area. My numbers ranged from 1 3/8 in. to 4 in, with an average of 2.4 in. The yearlings averaged 2.5 in. Brutus’ fleece was the largest, and weighed 6 lb, 3 oz.

I did the shearing myself – a first, beyond dabbling with hand shears here and there. I found the electric clippers to be less intimidating than I expected, though most of the sheep suffered a nick or two. My amateur back muscles protested for the first few days, (ok, I was REALLY sore) but I didn’t do more than 5 sheep per day, and overall I enjoyed the process. I didn’t use the same positions or stroke patterns as the professionals, but found methods which worked for me. For more pictures, see the “Photos” page. 20190620_131947

Cattywampus

Cattywampus was on hand when Jasmine was started under saddle yesterday, and he decided her first rider ought to be feline. We were pleased that she was just as calm for the cowgirl as she had been for the cat.20190610_095546

May Day colt

 

Born this morning – Samson! Sired by Karat, out of Princess. We are thrilled to have a baby to enjoy and halter break this summer.

Update – Samson at 12 days:

 

6 weeks:20190610_132125

Lambs on the Ground

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The pasture is swarming with spunky lambs. Our first babies were born on April 7, and lambing may be complete; two of our “old ladies” have not bagged up yet and are keeping us guessing as to whether they will lamb late or not at all. All lambs were born live and are thriving, which is a lot to be thankful for. Some will be available – partial list and some pictures have been added to the Sheep for Sale page.

Happy New Year!

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Iris is smiling on my kitchen wall now that I’ve put up NABSSAR’s 2019 calendar, featuring Kindergarten Farm’s photo on the January page. I took that picture about a year ago, and it’s just as snowy today. The sheep are already eating through their second round bale of the winter. Hard to believe we’ll be watching for spring lambs in just over 3 months! If you’re looking for quality Babydoll Southdowns, let me know.  We still have plenty of room on our waiting list, but it tends to fill up fast over the winter.

Summer is fleeting…

…my calendar tells me there’s only two days left of it. This has me reflecting on the happy times and the work, the collective effort that went into training horses, raising another crop of lambs, and getting the abundant hay crop in place for winter.  And sympathizing with all those raising livestock in drought-stricken regions whose hay crops are not so abundant this year.

While flipping through summer photos (which are few because it seems the doing is usually more important than the recording), I came across a few I want to share.

Grandmother and granddaughter take a 12-mile trail ride with Caramel and Dolly.

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July lamb born – first ever for us. We’d given up on lambs from one of older ewes – figured she was done lambing or taking a year off, and then she surprised us with this little one. She is growing up, and is available. See “Sheep for Sale” for details.

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