Whispering Pines Ranch is a second generation, family run farm in the heart of British Columbia's Cariboo region. Growing up surrounded by animals and and hard-working people, its a lifestyle that always beckons a person with its allure of a back to the land simplicity.
After nearly twenty years of city life, I returned to my roots with a sigh of relief in 2015. With two horses, two Border Collies, and a handful of hair sheep adopted from the PG Equine Rescue, I felt like I had come home again.
Growing up on a cattle feedlot and still commuting to town to work full-time, I knew that sheep would be easier to deal with than cows. This theory has tested wrong for me on several occasions, but I have no regrets. This I started my farming life again with 8 Katahdin mix breed ewes, a ram, and what I had strong suspicion was a goat.
I have nothing against goats. I was just pretty sure that sheep and goats can't interbreed. The rest of the herd kind of ignored this weird looking, sort of woolly, badger-faced animal I had named Badger. My Collie pup (Wendy the Wonderdog) couldn't make her move off the fences and would instead just sit down and lick Badger's face. Wendy is more of a lover than a fighter when it comes to her sheep.
A local shepherdess in the area was who identified 'Badger' for me. She was pretty sure my goat/sheep was a Blackbelly hair sheep. With at least a researchable breed name, I started looking around the internet to get some information.
After much Googling, I found out that Badger was an American Blackbelly, as identified by her scur horns. A low maintenance hair sheep, they are raised for meat and for trophy horns, They are also popular with stock-dog trainers, despite Wendy's problems herding her. There was only a handful of American Blackbelly breeders in Canada.
I pondered on what to do with this ewe. She was a good mother and easy keeper. I didn't have to shear her or her lambs. She devoured weeds and willows like candy. Badger was just a undemanding, mellow lawnmower sheep that was nice to look at and was a bit of a conversation starter with people.
As there are few bloodlines to chose from to diversify with, I had to do a crash course in genetics, pedigrees, and bloodlines. With careful consideration, I brought together a little flock of diverse Reg. American Blackbelly ewes and a new ram from the handful of breeders I could find in British Columbia.
Welcome to my adventures in sheep farming...…