the "mowing patrol" is at work
Blackbelly Barbados Hair Sheep, how we got started:
We got started in mysterious ways, with no planning whatsoever, having never even heard of hair sheep or Blackbelly Barbados until that day in April 1997.
That Saturday we had set up a booth at a flea market, about fifty miles from home, trying to sell toys and accessories for babies. As business was not too brisk, I strolled along the market to look at the other booths. Suddenly a pen, in which three beautiful animals were pacing, caught my eyes. I could not resist checking what these cute little creatures were. So I asked the man tending the booth. They are “Barbidos” or “Barbeedos” or “Barbee does” he said, they are sheep, hair sheep. They are two males and one female. I kept asking for more details but the man did not know any more than that.
I almost ran back to our booth that Lucille was tending, during my escapade, to tell her about my discovery of the existence of sheep with no wool and how cute and gentle these animals were. I then took over the booth and Lucille went to see the little lambs (they were between two and three month old). When she came back I knew she had fallen in love with these little creatures.
I worked out a deal with the seller. We only wanted one ewe and one ram (knowing nothing about sheep), but he promised he would take back one of the two rams, in the fall, at a good price of $50.00 if we did not want to keep them both. So we bought the three lambs and brought them back home in our Dodge Caravan.
To our amazement, a few weeks later the young ewe started growing, and showing what we thought were male attributes! Our suspicion was soon confirmed: we had indeed bought three rams!
Their horns and all the rest kept growing more impressively every day and we had no ewe. Nobody in our area (Co-op, extension, library…) knew anything about Barbados or had even heard of them, the neighboring farmers thought they looked like goats (O insult!) or llamas and we were unable to locate any source for ewes.
That is, until mid-June, about two months after we made that excellent purchase, when we were suddenly reading a classified ad in our local Wayne County News saying “For sale three Barbados ewes”. We could hardly believe it. The property of the man selling them had been totally flooded by the overflowing of a nearby creek and the ewes were in mud and water, he had no place to shelter them and also, we think, no money to buy the corn and other supplies they needed. So we bought them all, for $150.00, and felt relieved that finally we had three nice ewe/ram couples that would be living on our farm happily ever after.
That is how we started. This story shows, if need be, that the Lord really works in mysterious ways. Our shepherding experience has brought us closer to God. It has made our understanding of the Bible and of the numerous analogies it contains, a lot deeper.
Since then we have learned a lot about sheep and about Blackbelly Barbados. It was not easy. We had to follow a long road, with persistence, via the University of Tennessee in Nashville, the American Sheep Industry in Colorado, the A.L.B.C in North Carolina and finally Charles Beam and BBSAI in Oklahoma.
We are doing very well with them, we like them very much, we raise them as naturally as possible and they reward us for that. Our herd now amounts to about 200 heads (a lot more ewes than rams) and in the meantime we have sold many and harvested quite a few too.