ELPHIN MOUNTAIN CONNEMARAS
Farm Life

Sheep

In the 1980s while milking a small herd of Jerseys, we also ran a flock of 70 head of Columbia and Dorset sheep. In 1988 a drought swept across Eastern Ontario and we sold off most of our sheep flock as our pasture was limited. We kept some sheep for a few years, but eventually decided to concentrate on the horses and sold them. However our sheepless state didn't last long and in a couple of years we got 2 ewes and a Dorset ram from a neighbour, under the pretences of needing lawnmowers!


Dorsets, Columbias and Corridales in the 1980s flock

Heather then got wind that Rare Breeds Canada (RBC) was looking for a host farm for a flock of Black Welsh Mountain sheep, and volunteered our farm. Heather remembers BWM sheep running in huge, semi-feral flocks on the hills around the Welsh/English border, where she grew up. Since then, purebred BWM have dwindled in numbers because of culling and crossbreeding. At their lowest point, only 250 animals remained around the world. While BWM are typically small sheep with a coarse fleece, we have found that crossing with Dorsets produces larger lambs and a better meat sheep. The fleece also has a longer staple, and is more useful for spinning. The black gene is dominant, so even halfbreds are black, giving spinners a rare true black fleece. We hope that by crossing with Romneys, known for their beautiful long, silky fleece, we will get even better fleeces.


Black Welsh Mountain sheep

A registered Leicester ewe was added to the flock in 2002 and her twins are now also used in the breeding program to produce quality coloured fleeces. Heather sent raw fleece to McAustland's Mill in PEI for spinning for the first time in 2003 with the finished products being natural white and brown yarns. These yarns are then used in Heather's weaving, either on their own in blankets or mixed with commercial colours as warp yarn. Ram lambs are sold as freezer lambs in late fall and make excellent eating.

Inquiries about raw fleece sales and meat orders are welcome. Please note - as of 2006 Heather sold her sheep, finding she was getting too old for late night lambing and lacked time to organise a good breeding program. She has however continued her weaving which is still available for sale. Please see the weaving site.

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