Bringing Back Sheep


Yesterday was a sweet spring day. Perfect for a beautiful drive on narrow, winding dirt roads past tumbled fence posts, redbuds blooming everywhere, the fresh green haze of new leaves in the trees, all bursting under a bright sunshine sky.
Old barns….
….and turkeys in the road.
A perfect day to pick up sheep!
I was there to pick up four.
Tunis sheep (also known as Tunisian Barbary) are an ancient breed–-they are the “fat-tailed sheep” of the Bible. They have cream-colored wool with cinnamon-red faces. (The lambs are born tan or red and the body wool later grows out creamy, leaving the red faces.) Not surprising for an ancient breed, they’re multi-purpose. They provide flavorful meat, wool suitable for spinning and crafting, and as a bonus, they’re also good milkers. The overall potential of Tunis sheep is intriguing to me. (Am I going to milk a sheep? I don’t know…. Maybe!) The pure Tunis sheep are beautiful and interesting, and they would make fascinating crosses also with Annabelle and Crazy, and since they cross especially well with Suffolk, will also work well with Ebby.

I picked up two purebred Tunis ewe lambs along with a Tunis ram lamb. The girls:
I also picked up one older lamb. I think this one is probably one of their crosses, but I didn’t need this one to be a purebred.
He wasn’t going to be staying at Sassafras Farm for long…..

I packed them all into the back of my Explorer.
Along with a couple of big bags of Tunis wool, an extra gift thrown in to add to the wool from my own sheep for the wool retreat coming up.
Home and unloaded, everybody looked around to figure out where they were.
Chloe practiced herding.
And new friends made their acquaintance.
One of the girls again:
The ram:
The older sheep (to the left in the below photo) was reloaded later in the day and taken directly to the butcher, by the way. More on that later.
After the losses of Minnie Belle and Crazy Junior, and the little bottle lamb more recently, my farm is full of sheep again–I’m starting over!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on April 23, 2013  

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24 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 4-23

    I’m delighted to see more sheep on your land! It sounds as though they mingled well with the existing crew, and you’ll have fun getting to know them. I wonder how different sheep’s milk is from goat’s milk?

    Nancy in Iowa

  2. 4-23

    I am so happy for you! I just love sheep. And now, I am on the hunt for my own Tunis flock. They are so pretty. Have fun with them! I so wish I could come to your retreat about wool. I have several bags full right now and don’t know how to do anything with them. But I will learn!

  3. 4-23

    Farmers gotta get used to that whole starting over thing. In its way, every spring is a ‘do over’ it’s just that sometimes it’s more so than others. :ladybug:

  4. 4-23

    They are beautiful!

  5. 4-23

    Sheep in the back of the Explorer?!?! Did they poo?

  6. 4-23

    Love the last pic with their shadows! What are the blue marks on their backs? I assume it’s some sort of ID?

  7. 4-23

    While working on a film crew a few years ago I was sent to Whole Foods to get some sheep’s milk cheese for a particularly fussy D-list actress. Man, was that stuff expensive!

    Well, it happens that she had learned not to trust low-budget film crews and had brought her own supply anyway. So I shared my purchase with the whole crew. Man was that stuff good!

    The only way I’ll be able to afford it again is again on someone else’s nickle.

  8. 4-23

    Best of luck Suzanne. You haven’t had the best of luck with lambs so I hope this new herd works out better. I look forward to you (maybe) trying to milk the sheep and make sheep’s milk cheese. Any experiments with goats milk on the horizon?

  9. 4-23

    They do have pretty faces.

  10. 4-23

    I have never had any, but hear that sheep milk is extremely rich and makes incredible cheese.

  11. 4-23

    Tunis are great sheep – good mothers & fairly docile. Good luck with them.

  12. 4-23

    So Cute, there is a sheep farm very close to us, I know ther owner and she said I can stop in an play with the kids when ever I want, the only thing is, I would want to bring one home ;)

  13. 4-23

    Neato! Have fun with your new project.

  14. 4-23

    What beautiful sheep! I bet their wool is gorgeous. What I’d like to know is – how did you manage to load four sheep into your Explorer?

  15. 4-23

    As I am sure you already know, if you intend to milk these sheep start working (preparing) them now.
    They are very lovely and I think it is cute how they have the blue “I am sold to Suzanne” mark on the rump. :o

  16. 4-24

    I forgot to add this message for Chloe:

    Chloe! Psssst! Remember this: “Baa-ram-ewe. Baa-ram-ewe. To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true. Sheep be true. Baa-ram-ewe.” I hear it helps. But don’t tell ANYONE else!

    You’re welcome.

  17. 4-24

    Probably a good thing I won’t be at the retreat ’cause there’s no way I could eat the lamb after seeing who it was. It doesn’t help me that I didn’t know him. I saw his face and that’s all it takes for me.

  18. 4-24

    Ahh they are so beautiful. Can hardly wait for them to grow into themselves and watch them being sheared! I hope they do well…as far as sheep go :?

    MM – please don’t take this wrong, it is not meant as such. These lambs are just as cute as the parts of any lamb one would buy at the grocery store…but probably not filled with the same antibiotics, growth hormones and other crap. Don’t look at any lamb pics on the internet…they might be the one on your plate! I would take any lamb from where I knew it was raised over any lamb on the store shelf! Then again, I eat cows, pigs, chickens, deer, moose, lobster, scallops, shrimp and fish, vegetables too. It just might be me <3

  19. 4-25

    GrammieEarth- I totally agree. IF you’re going to eat meat, then someone grown locally AND organically is definitely better. A lot of farmers still give chickens and other animals antibiotics in their food or hormones to make them lay more eggs. God only knows what you’re getting (and what the poor animal went through) from meat you buy at the grocery store. I personally could not eat an animal that I’ve seen alive and breathing beforehand. It’s just me because I love animals sooo much. I have eaten beef raised by a friend of mine, but I never met the cow. And the difference in quality and taste was amazing. The only lamb (mutton) I’ve eaten came from one of my ewes that died when she choked to death on a hay cube. We had a pig once that grew into a hog. My husband ate him, but I could not.

  20. 4-25

    I’m assuming the one that went to the butcher is the one we’ll be eating next week?

    I had to laugh when you said you loaded them into the back of your Explorer. I hope you didn’t have a mess when you got home! The three of us are excited about next week.

  21. 4-25

    I just realized my comment “We had a pig once that grew into a hog” sounds pretty stupid. A hog is a pig. What I meant was we raised him from a piglet and didn’t slaughter him until he was around 700 lbs (not joking).

  22. 4-25

    I really like the looks of the Tunis. Did anyone run off the road looking at the woman with the sheep in her car? Sort of reminds me of the time my sister and I cramed in the cab of my Nissan pick up(not an extended cab) with 2 Golden Retrievers and a Siberian Husky.

  23. 4-29

    Wow, your car must have been pretty aromatic!!!! :lol:

  24. 1-25

    :sheep: It is not so very weird to me that you took the sheep home in your Explorer. We used to take our son’s 4-H lambs back and forth to the meeting place to send them in the trailer to the various lamb shows. We just put lots of newspaper in the floor and it was fine. Sheep pellets are not hard to clean up, as you probably know. What was really funny was the double takes from other drivers when Lambo stuck his head out the window and greeted them!

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