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Kindergarten Farm

Babydoll Southdown Sheep and Miniature Horses

Babydoll Southdown Sheep

Our family has been raising registered Old English Southdown Babydoll sheep for over twenty years. Our goals are high quality wool, meat, and conformity to the breed standard as the original Southdown.  We have sheared, carded, spun, knit & woven their wool, milked them and made various cheeses, and butcher lambs for our freezers each year.  We 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 Janette and Bill’s son’s family, and 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 have come to appreciate what healthy, beautiful animals they are, and what an ideal breed of sheep the Babydolls are for our family.

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 both black and white lambs available each year.  Lambing will be in April; weaning in July.

*Update 5-23-17: Lambing season in 2017 went well.  Buyers have spoken for all but 2 of our available ewes.  We also have a few wethers for sale.*rachel-snowball

 

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Miniature Horses

Okay, this guy’s a Clydesdale and a little tall for the miniature registries.  But miniature horses are still horses.  The original breeding stock 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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Halter Training the Ewe Lambs

     Wild little antelope – that’s what our young ewes act like for the first year or two, it seems.  They usually hang back when their moms and grandmas eat grain treats, and think people are out to eat them, – not an unreasonable idea for a prey animal!  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 them almost daily for a few weeks.  My goals were to get them friendlier and to halter break them at least a little.  Each day I herded them up into a small corral, then put a little grain in a feeder in the corner, which was partially enclosed with hog panels.  Next, I herded them (at a walk) into the corner and shut them in with a moveable hog panel.  (Chasing sheep in a large area is exhausting and counterproductive!)
In the small space, I caught each one with a crook, fed her a handful of grain (had to force their mouths open at first until they got the idea), and led with the halter for about 15 minutes.  They went from leaping around or flopping on the ground (very entertaining!)

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Enya – stubborn moment!

to walking beside or just ahead of me fairly cooperatively.  After the first couple of weeks, I started letting our two youngest, aged 2 and 4, come out and help.
They’re not exactly submissive, but they do come running at the shake of a grain bucket, and are beginning to trust people.  This should pay off at shearing, lambing, and other times when we need to work with them.  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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Snack time!*

snack for ewes

The ewes have moved to a creek-bottom pasture that usually stays nice and green through fall.  It’s a season of peaceful grazing and regaining their body condition for the coming breeding season.  Their lambs were weaned, and those we sold went to their new homes.  Aside from a brief parasite attack in some of the weaned lambs, it was a good summer for the flock.  It was the first time we’d needed wormer in several years, and they recovered well.  Our area was blessed with late summer rains, which meant greener grass and a better second cutting of hay than some years.
*Note: The sheep don’t get grain as part of their normal diet this time of year; only a small amount occasionally as a treat.

Foals and Summer Fun

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Only two foals were born on Kindergarten Farm this summer, but we’re enjoying them more than ever.  Eclipse is the first full-sized foal we’ve ever had, a Fresian/Walker cross, born to our saddle mare, Caramel.  Clyde is a Shetland/Miniature Horse cross, and will be for sale as a weanling this fall.  Both have been caught and handled almost every day since birth.  This makes them a lot of fun, as they’re getting quite friendly and are leading very well.  Pictured with the grandchildren in the driveway is Mouse, one of our favorite older mares.  Grandpa wonders if it’s safe to lead a pony before you’re two; grandma says yes – it is under the right circumstances!  If you’re interested in a pony/miniature horse, check out our updates to the “Horses for Sale” tab.

 

Spring Training

Time to earn some of that hay you’ve been eating all winter, we told the horses!  Several groups of children have been out to the home farm for riding lessons, and I (Laura) borrowed a couple to work with at our place.  Golden Cloud (“GC”) has been getting used to the idea of pulling a cart.  Janette is gearing up for ARC’s summer camp for handicapped kids; this year she’s celebrating 20 years of bringing horses to camp for that fun-loving crowd.

Lambing Update

 

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Snowball’s triplets at 5 weeks

Lambing went smoothly, for which we are thankful.  All our ewes lambed without assistance and are raising their own lambs – no bottle babies.  It was the year of triplets. 3 ewes had them, though Snowball is the only triplet mama whose babies all made it.  (Ginger’s 3rd was stillborn, and one of Rose’s got on the wrong side of the fence from his mama – management lesson we’ll keep in mind for next time; like we did for Snowball, triplets need a small pen at first so the ewe can keep track of them all!)  The lambs are 4-6 weeks old and acting very energetic!  One ewe lamb and several wethers are still available.

 

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