I actually made the decision to add a flock of sheep to the farm mainly for business reasons. It was not a decision I took lightly and it took quite some time to make and a lot of nerve to make the leap with so many uncertainties in my life. But knowing I had the support of my boyfriend to help with physical work, and crunching the numbers to make sure I could manage their care properly and efficiently, it did all seem to work.
And aside from that, I couldn’t get them out of my head. I had found a small (well if 10 is small) flock of Finn Sheep for sale, quite a ways from my farm in the backwoods of Eastern Ontario (about 5 hrs one way) and try as I may to set them aside in my head, I couldn’t. It was a big investment, and it didn’t really have to be those sheep. I knew a decent amount about the breed because they were on my top 3 list of breeds of sheep when I’d done research over the years as to which breed I would love most to raise, along with Icelandic’s, and Navajo-Churros. I had never met any in person, but I loved everything about them, the quality of their wool, their supposedly super friendly, calm, dispositions, the fact they already have small tails, no wool on their faces, and apparently, so many lambs! One ewe often has 3-5 lambs at a time! Which is hard to believe! I also liked their size as a medium sized breed. Not too big, not too small.
Still, this flock wasn’t all 100 percent purebred, and one of them was a Gotland, not a Finn, but another breed I loved for their wool. I looked at many other ewes, other breeds… thought about just starting with a different breed to work my way to the breed I really wanted to have in the future.
But over time, really, the stars kind of aligned. As I kept talking to the woman selling the sheep, I connected with her. She clearly loved her sheep, and they had helped her get through a very difficult time in her life and regain her health, and she was very sad to have to sell them, but such is life. They are planning on moving, downsizing, and it just had to be. It just seemed like too good a fit to let go. But transport was a big problem. I have a Ford Escape (It did cross my mind to try and fit as many sheep as I could in there, I’ll be honest) and just the trip alone was not only far, I couldn’t find a trailer, or the time, to get there. I needed Ed to drive because my health doesn’t allow me to drive for that period of time, and I’ve been sicker than usual lately so I wasn’t even sure if I could be a passenger for that length of time. I looked into livestock haulers and that was insane, no way could I afford that.
Finally, things fell into place, and they ended up transporting the sheep as part of the deal. It was really meant to be. My heart told me so.
I was amazed right away by how friendly they were, they all acted like they had been bottle raised lambs although they hadn’t. They all came right to me, and wanted kisses, on the face! My bottle raised sheep were friendly and loving pets, but these girls were by far the sweetest sheep I had ever met.
I’ve always loved goats because they do bond more with their people, sheep are usually more aloof, and just hang out together. But not these girls. You are PART of their flock, and they want as much attention as you’ll give them!
Very quickly I realized that while I had taken on a big project with them, and a lot of work, I had made the right decision. And not just from a farming perspective, sure, they are going to make some beautiful lambs and yarns in the future! But I instantly felt like myself again, I felt purpose and… joy. I had not realized how detrimental it had been to me not having and raising animals over the past couple of years.
After my husband passed, and with my health in such a bad place, and not knowing what would happen, or what the future would hold, I had to re-home all my livestock, expect for my miniature horse… my goats I’d had for years, my sheep I hand raised, including my blind ram who’s life I had saved 10 years prior. It broke my heart. But it was the right thing to do at the time, I really didn’t have any other options. I couldn’t handle everything on my own, and the future was completely unclear and terrifying, and I needed to know they were safe.
But spending time with these girls, right away I realized how therapeutic they are, and how much of myself had been… missing.
This morning I woke up at 5:30 AM because I am at 40 mg of prednisone right now and that makes me not be able to sleep, and have major nightmares. I woke up in the middle of a nightmare, and shaking uncontrollably. The prednisone also brings on a racing heartbeat and anxiety, which I take other medications to help with, like beta blockers because it’s that bad.
I got up and made myself some coffee, let the little dogs out for their morning pee.
Then I spent the next hour being sick, even though I’d only had coffee.
I feel. Well, miserable.
But I knew the animals needed me. And while physically it’s exhausting for me to just walk the 300 feet to the barn and back, seeing their faces every morning instantly improves my mood and reminds me to keep going.
I never would have thought a flock of sheep would help keep me going and motivated to keep on trying even though it was the last thing I felt like doing.
But life works in mysterious, wooly, ways!