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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. Our goal is excellence in conformation, mothering ability/udders, wool, and meat. 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.

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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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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.

Brutus’ lambs

The speed at which these lambs are growing is incredible. All the ewes have lambed, except one old girl who is probably done or taking a year off. (Update – she eventually did have a little ewe!) Every lamb was born live – a cause for celebration, as there’s usually a stillbirth or two – a second born twin or a large single for a first time mom. We’re seeing a lot of nice dark legs and very sweet faces on solid bodies that are muscling up nicely. All the ewe lambs are spoken for. We still have a couple of available ram lambs who will be wethered soon if no one requests them as breeding stock.  Brutus sired our entire 2018 lamb crop.Brutus resized

Jobs at Grandma’s

There’s always lots of work to do on the farm, but nice weather means it’s time for a lot of fun jobs. Grandma Janette has ponies picketed out to graze in the yard every day this time of year. The grandchildren help with this when they visit, as well as with gentling the younger horses, saddle training, and practicing loading on and off the trailer. There’s a nest of kittens to check on in the barn and donkeys who are always hoping someone will bring them a slice of bread. Poncho the donkey helped with some landscaping work last week, or at least got harnessed up and looked useful for a change!Resized952018051095151028

Lambing Time, Blizzard Time

 

 

Newborn lambs and high winds/drifting snow are a bad combination. Over the weekend we were so thankful to be able to bring the sheep inside. After a midwinter predator attack, we repurposed one end of a building, built a temporary pen, and have brought the sheep in every night since.  Some years our 3-sided sheds are adequate even through lambing, but this year late episodes of winter weather have made better shelter essential. We’re still feeding some hay, which is unusual for us in April.

Brutus’ lambs are looking great, and so far we have 6 ewe and 3 ram lambs. Pictured above: Right – Anna and Elsa, 8 hours old. First time mom Iris is doing a great job with them. Middle – our daughter with one of Millie’s triplets. They’re getting a few supplemental bottles, and she calls them “the sniffy babies” because they are quite friendly and come up to nuzzle people. Left – ewes and lambs waiting for the storm to end so they can be outside.

Halter Training the Ewe Lambs

     Wild little antelope – that’s what our young ewes often act like for the first year or two. This year, I decided to put some effort into taming the 3 we kept.  In November, after the mature ewes went in with the ram, I caught and worked with the young ones daily for awhile. Soon they were walking beside or just ahead of me fairly cooperatively.  After the first couple of weeks, I started letting our two youngest children, aged 2 and 4, come out and help.
While not exactly submissive, the little ewes do come running at the shake of a grain bucket now, and are beginning to trust people.  This will make shearing, lambing, and other human interactions less stressful.  I plan to use my newly learned strategies on next year’s lambs when they’re younger, right after weaning, and hopefully our sheep customers will have halter-trained babies by pick-up time!

rachel and lamb
~This is what it’s all about!~

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from everyone at Kindergarten Farm.  James went out to help grandma Janette with chores after presents this morning, and was excited to have snow on the ground!  God has provided through another year, and we have so much to be thankful for. Thanks to everyone who worked with and did business with us over the past year; we wish you and your families the very best.

Brutus and Jasper

Brutus only has a week left to hang out with his buddy Jasper before he goes in with the ewes.  Can’t wait to see his lambs!

Karat and Jasmine

We took a walk one fine fall afternoon and visited some of our friends.  Hoping for a foal from Karat and Jasmine in the spring!

NABSSAR Photo Contest

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NABSSAR (Babydoll registry) does an annual photo contest and produces a calendar with the winners.  Among those chosen this year was Laura’s shot of Quarter and her lamb in the orchard, which will be the September photo for their 2018 calendar.
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