A Flock of Sheep


Seriously. We have a flock of sheep.

You can’t be more surprised than I am.

Here’s what happened. Last week, a reader passed on to me the fascinating tidbit of information that a farmer in Virginia was closing out his sheep operation and giving away his flock. Nothing rings more beautifully in the air here at Stringtown Rising Farm than the word free. Combine that with the word sheep and I’m in big trouble.

So next thing you know, I was a couple hundred miles away from here in the back of a pickup truck inside a barn in Virginia holding onto a 250-pound ram by a fistful of his incredibly long, curly wool while four more sheep were being loaded into the truck along with him.
You ever try to hold onto a 250-pound ram by a fistful of wool? I broke a nail and everything.

One ewe bolted before making it onto the ramp into the truck and escaped the barn. There goes my ewe! Apparently she didn’t know what to do with herself, though, and she circled back into the barn from the other side. The retiring sheep farmer and 52 brought the sheep one at a time to the truck–a ram and four ewes–and shoved them up the ramp. At that point, the tailgate in the truck would have to be opened and it was my job to keep everybody who was already on the truck in place. Luckily, they have a lot of wool to hang onto, but even so, I only have two hands. After I had a fistful of wool in each hand, I had to just start threatening the others. No cookies for you if you cause trouble! Every time the men loaded one and left me alone standing in the bed of the pickup with those woolly mammoths, I was scared the sheep would kill me before they returned with the next one.

A West Virginia woman was killed in a freak incident Monday in which three sheep sat on her head. “Sheep weigh hundreds of pounds,” a police spokesperson reported. “She never had a chance. We’re still working to recover the body from beneath the wool.”

Finally loaded, we drove off with a sea of wool waving in the bed of the pickup truck.
We stopped for gas and food from Arby’s. People stared.

It was late by the time we made it back to the farm. Unloading is so much easier than loading.
Clover and Co. were put away for the night in their goat house before the sheep were unloaded. The sheep ran around the back of the goat house and spent the night hiding there.

Clover spent the night on the porch of her goat house staring at them.

Bright and early yesterday morning, we started the introductions. Princess encouraged the goats into a meet -n- greet with the ram.
They sniffed each other and said hello. (Notice that the ram is as tall sitting down as the goats are standing up.)
Then the goats went off to play on some boards that had been left in the yard the night before while the sheep inspected the goat house.
With everybody relaxed so far, the next introduction was made.

First, from outside the fence….
….then inside.
The Giant Puppy didn’t know what to make of the giant sheep.
They’re bigger than she is! She had no idea such a thing was possible!
Coco: “Take me to Annabelle…..”
We have two Jacob sheep, both ewes.
Jacobs are dramatic and unique sheep. An “Old World” unimproved breed (meaning not altered or enhanced over the centuries by crossing with other breeds, also referred to as a “primitive” breed), they’re considered to be almost goat-like with their slight builds and more playful, agile personalities. They sport anywhere from two to six horns, and they have very thick wool. I stuck my hand into one of them and the wool swallowed my fingers before I hit skin.

We also brought home three woolly mammoths, aka Cotswold sheep, a ram and two ewes.
Cotswolds are an old English heritage breed. They were quite popular in the Middle Ages for their long, curly fleece. They are also known as good mothers and are very calm. Not to mention massive. The breed is now classified as rare. Our three are purebred Cotswolds, so I’m excited not only to have sheep but to contribute to saving this beautiful heirloom breed. (Can you believe they were free? I mean, how could I have resisted?)

I’d like to find a Jacob ram sometime soon. The Jacobs yield a fabulous multi-colored fleece and, like the Cotswolds, are an endangered breed in need of conservation. As these two ewes are purebreds, I’d like to breed them as well. They’re quite interesting, in an alien “we are sheep from Mars” kinda way. I went to Virginia for the Cotswolds, but I couldn’t leave without the Jacobs, too.

They all need shearing soon. For now, they’re sharing quarters with the goats, but as soon as possible, they’ll be moving to their own pasture in our meadow bottom. (Partially fenced, needs finishing.)
And I gotta figure out what I’m going to do with all that wool…………

Sheep…… First Annabelle, now five more. Within a couple of days, I went from zero to half a dozen. I have a flock–and a whole new adventure! I love new adventures.

I think, tomorrow, I shall get some elephants.


  1. nursemary says:

    Awesome! They are magnificent animals. I am jealous.

  2. Patty says:

    Wow! Just wow! I LOL’d when I saw Coco’s face. That was precious. I think she knows now she has to actually work instead of playing with her pet goats and lamb all day haha. It is so amazing that you get to help with a rare species. They’re all gorgeous!

  3. Biddy says:

    Well Suzanne you got your dream!! I remember when you came back from the UK all fired up about sheep! :sheep: :sheepjump:

  4. CindyP says:

    Wow, Suzanne, the story just gets better!! And the fact that they’re free……and rare….just awesome!

    Coco really does look amazed that there can actually be a bigger animal than herself!! :sheep:

  5. Heidi533 says:

    Oh that it, I want my own sheep now. My poor husband is sunk. If you get a nasty email from him someday, please accept my apologies now.

    I bet you could find any number of spinners that would buy the wool from you. OR you could learn to use that beautiful old spinning wheel in the old farm house.

  6. Diane says:

    What fun. And wow work. But beautiful animals. Free!!! How cool is that. I always believe that if want something big like that if I wait God will proived a way for me to have it. If I am ment to have it. Those sheep were to have a home with you.

    Spinners and knitters will love the wool. Contact your local knit shop to find the buyers. :sheep:

    Have fun. Coco and the little lamb is so cute.

  7. mim says:

    Congrats to the new additions….Hey…anyone know how to spin? And now the big question: That is willing to teach me how?? My 3 alpacas & 1 llama will be sheared this spring. My plans this year is to send the fiber to the Kocher Farm in St Marys to be processed.. ALSO, do you know a shearer? I have been in contact with Derrick Spangler from VA to come in and shear my babies BUT would really like to find someone local. My email address is: [email protected]. :shocked: :shocked: :snoopy:

  8. ulli says:

    Wow, the sheep are beautiful! What a find! I sure hope you make your own yarn–Stringtown Rising Yarn and Roving–dyed with natural dyes of course. (You can do it!) You’ll have a side business going in no time. Being a knitter and fiberholic I’d buy some!

  9. therese says:

    Beautiful! Thank you taking these beauties and giving them a home and preserving these wonderful animals for the next generation to come! Therese

  10. Becky says:

    I’ll bet you can’t wait to get up in the mornings to greet all the critters. I know I couldn’t!
    Congratulations on your additions. And free ones at that!

  11. Kathryn says:

    A dear friend of mine shears, spins, and weaves. You will have such fun with your new family! Thank you again for letting us share your life. Please tell the Princess that I think her naming gift is sublime!

  12. flutterby says:

    Want to sell that wool – try eBay. Seriously, you’d be surprised.

  13. Cyndi Lewis says:

    Forget the elephants. Go for a Flock of Seagulls next. πŸ˜†

  14. Claudia says:

    That’s called “potato chip disease”…. you just can’t have one!I love all the pictures… they look good and healthy.

  15. Ellen says:

    Suzanne, I’m so delighted that you got the sheep!

    Just be wary of the ram, they can be dangerous. They have a reputation for letting you know who is boss.

    What a lovely flock! Hey, if you want to sell some fleece at Pocket Meadow, I’m interested!


  16. LauraP says:

    Lucky you! Cotswold wool is wonderful! Incredibly strong and the best for learning to spin – that’s my choice for a ‘teaching wool’. Jacob wool is terrific, too. I’ve bags of it in the attic, just waiting for me to stockpile enough angora from the rabbits to blend with it — that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. πŸ˜†

  17. Sandra says:

    Reading your blog every morning is so habit forming and more fun than the daily comics. I keep telling my friends that they must read your stories and see the great pictures.

  18. midwestmom says:

    I love the new sheep and their names too. And I love this blog! :sheep:

  19. marleyde says:

    Cappucino looks like she’s on the verge of something. :dancingmonster: They are beautiful, but picture of Giant Puppy and the baby was precious.

  20. Suzette says:

    Wowzer! Sheep everywhere! Did you get lanolin on your hands when you were rasslin’ them? I fantasize about having hand lotion “on the hoof.” πŸ˜†

    I suspect the adventures have only just begun!

  21. Nita in South Carolina says:

    I’d keep an eye on Cappucino. She looks like she’s plotting. Maybe you need to monitor her conversations with Clover. I think those two together might be dangerous!!

    What a wonderful bonanza for you! Free is my favorite brand of anything. Tell Morgan that Clifford, Rosalie and Josephine are perfect names for that bunch!

  22. MARY says:

    :sheepjump: Elephants sound like the logical next step!! I love the sheep! They are gorgeous! The Cotswolds remind me of Rastaman sheep, and the others have beautiful coloring. I could really use a beautiful hand-knit sweater!!!!!! LOL! I’m so happy you got these guys FREE!! How cool! They will have a great home, and you will have lots of wool! I know Coco will love them. YEAH!!!!! :sheep: :sun: :shroom:

  23. BuckeyeGirl says:

    WOW! Very cool! Is there any kind of spinner’s group in the area? I’ll bet you could work out a deal with someone for a trade. Raw wool for some percentage of spun yarn back. I’ll bet the lady who told you about this fellow and his great sheep giveaway is in the know, I also bet you’ve got that angle covered too! Your too smart a cookie not to… UH OH!! I said the cookie word!! Hope Clover didn’t hear!!

    Was the gentleman sad to see them going? I’m curious if he ‘checked out’ who he gave them too, it’d be a shame to have such heritage stock going someplace not so good. (nosey of me huh?)

  24. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Yes, I think he was a little sad to see them go, but he’s moving on to other things and needed to find good homes for them. He did ask some questions before he let us come get them, so we were checked out, LOL. I directed him to a picture of Clover in a tiara on my blog and I think that satisfied him that they weren’t going to be mistreated or anything.

  25. DragonLady says:

    The sheep are magnificent! Congratulations and it’s hard to believe they were free. They remind me of sheep that I’ve seen depicted in centuries-old oil paintings. The world would be a much better place if humans could get along as well as your goats, sheep, lamb & giant puppy! Enjoy! :snoopy:

  26. Claudia W. says:

    Those sheep could not have found a better home. I hope the farmer knows he did a good thing!

  27. Michelle Willingham says:

    They are lovely sheep, Suzanne! :sheep:

  28. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Well, he’ll be able to check up on them via this site too!

    Oh, and the people at Arby’s who were staring were simply jealous of the mountain of fleece in your truck, I’m sure they were considering how to make off with them. Perhaps you should have taken Coco so she could slobber them to submission in case they tried something! errr… maybe not. heh.

  29. margiesbooboo says:

    This is exactly why I never learned to weave, although I would love to be a weaver or even a knitter. I would have my own flock of sheep to shear with yarn to process and dye fantastic colors. I so envy you.


  30. Stacia says:

    That is so cool! And those Jacob sheep are beautiful. You’re so lucky! :clover:

  31. tillie says:

    please, just say NO to the elephant thoughts!! please…besides, they won’t fit on your front porch!!

  32. Melissa says:

    (‘or anything’ like eaten?!) I think these sheep are going to have a great life and as for what to do with the wool, isn’t there a spinning wheel i n the old farm house?

  33. Teapot Hollow says:

    Please buy a spinning wheel and start spinning your own yarn. To sell. To people like me who live “in town” and can’t have their own fiber-producin’ critters, much as they would love to. Congrats on the sheep. They’re lovely!

  34. Courtney KS says:

    I am SO happy for you!!!!

  35. Traci Best says:

    That is so cool that you got them for free from someone who couldn’t keep them anymore!

    I have to say though…that first picture of the Jacobs…that startled the tar right out of me! Talk about STRIKING! They are freaky looking!!!

    Now you need a spinner and a loom so you can make your own wool fabric for clothes!

  36. Cama says:

    How amazing! They are so beautiful!!! Put me in line for the yarn! :sun:

  37. Robin G. says:

    The Jacobs are just gorgeous. Wow.

    So… will you be putting together a pasture? I can’t imagine Clover will like sharing for very long.

  38. Becky says:

    I would love to buy one of your fleeces.

  39. IowaCowgirl says:

    Instant flock! Amazing! I’m so impressed that they are heirloom breeds. very cool.

    now for the pachyderm situation…..maybe wait a while???

  40. Matthew Burns says:

    Those are beautiful sheep, all of them. When it comes time to shear, keep in mind that you could sell 1 pound bags of wool on Ebay and fetch a better price than at bulk wool buyers. You could probably advertise the wool as coming from that specific breed and get an even better price.

    Very cool to have heritage breeds! I envy you.

    • BuckeyeGirl says:

      That sounds like a good idea, but I’ve been hearing horror stories about ebay lately, I’d investigate other options too. Craigs list for one so it at least stays local, and I think there’re other sites showing up that are effective without ebay’s nonesense.

  41. Coffeefrappe says:

    But Suzanne! Elephants do not produce eggs, milk, or wool. And you are much too far out to sell elephant rides! Maybe you could sell all that fertilizer? πŸ˜‰ Or use them to cross the various waterways on the way out to the “real road”? I’m so happy you have your sheep and for such a pittance. Good luck!

  42. Meghan says:

    If you decide to sell the wool, maybe a list some of it online? (And, you know, tell your readers where we can find the listing.) I’m a spinner, and I’d love to buy wool from somewhere I knew the animals were happy and treated well.

  43. Carol says:

    Oh my goodness – they are all absolutely beautiful, and to think that they were free! I love how you are going to work on preserving the two breeds. Who knows, maybe one day hubby and I will purchase one of the offspring for our little farm (someday!) Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us. :sheep:

  44. Christy O says:

    Man, I want some free sheep! I’ve been looking for a good deal on some and haven’t come across anything yet. Are you going to keep the rams separate from the ewes? Or let them run together all the time? :sheep: :snuggle:

  45. Tori Lennox says:

    Forget the elephants! If you want something from Africa, go for zebras. *g*

  46. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    I noticed 52 already put in his bid for “no elephants”!! I can’t believe how very small Clover and the kids look next to the sheep. You’re rivaling Claire in Iowa with the animals you keep adding to your farm! I think the next addition should be a pair of llamas! And BTW, now that you have sheep as well as goats, I also think you should remove the nasty wolf icon so Coco won’t get nervous about protecting her new herd. :sheep:

  47. tabbimama says:

    :sheepjump: :sheepjump: :sheepjump: :sheepjump: I love Sheep more than anything. I am so glad you got these beautiful heirloom breeds and FREE!!!!! Oh happy day. You aren’t going to have time to write. How will you keep the lights on? How about some nice sheepy stories. Paranormal sheep farm stories. Well, it might work. If anyone can pull it off, you can.

    Blessings to you and your little flock.
    And for Princess, here is my favorite sheepy poem.

    I’d Love to be a Fairy Child

    Children born of fairy stock
    Never need for shirt or frock,

    Never want for food or fire,
    Always, get their heart’s desire:
    Jingle pockets full of god,
    Marry when they’re seven years old.

    Every fairy child may keep
    Two strong ponies and ten sheep
    All have houses, each his own,
    Built of brick or granite stone;
    They live on cherries, they run wild-
    I’d love to be a Fairy’s Child.
    -Robert Graves

  48. anni says:

    Suzanne I am so very very happy for you. It’s amazing what can happen when you ‘just put it out there’ the universe will provide.
    in Toronto

  49. Leah says:

    How beautiful and unique the Cotwold and Jacobs are! So happy for you!The Jacobs look almost like walking carpets. :sheepjump: :sheep: :sheepjump:

  50. Leah says:

    Maybe 52 would let you have the pink dancing elephant back! πŸ˜‰

  51. c reinhart says:

    I love your spirit of adventure. The sheep are fantastic! I’ve never seen sheep like that before. Thanks for the picts.

  52. Netherfieldmom says:

    Make sure you visit Mud Ranch–she’s an expert on Jacob sheep!

    Better get that ram away from them Jacob girls soon! πŸ˜‰

  53. LynneW says:

    In a word, for all of you looking for sheep shearers, people to teach you to spin, and anything else of a yarn nature: Ravelry! Go to www DOT ravelry DOT com and Request an Invitation. The helpfulness of people on that site is just incredible.

    who has really been enjoying your blog since it was mentioned on another blog I visit frequently

  54. catslady says:

    So you have to make sure the right ram mates with the right sheep, right? :sheepjump: Instead of elephants, I think llamas would be a great idea – maybe you can mix the wool. Poor Coco, she doesn’t look so big now lol.

  55. annie d. says:

    I’m so happy for ewe! Would love to purchase some Stringtown Rising Farm yarn or roving. The sheep will earn their weight in cookies! I hope you don’t like mutton.

  56. Estella says:

    I have never seemn Jacobs sheep before. Am going to GOOGLE them and learn more.

  57. Donna says:

    Are they not ALLLL the cutest little things in the world????? I would get nothing else done…just play with the animals and snuggle and kiss them. LOL

  58. Susan says:

    They are gorgeous! Princess chose wonderful names for them. :yes: I think you are going to be baking lots of cookies to keep them happy. :sheep:

  59. Lisa in California says:

    Your farm is growing so quickly. Congratulations on all the new additions!

  60. Amy says:

    OMG! I hope you can knit….

  61. Christine says:

    I just fell in love with Cappucino. She’s gorgeous!

  62. Brandy says:

    Wow! You had a fortitious weekend! Your new sheep are gorgeous and YAY YOU for helping to conserve those rare sheep.

  63. monica says:

    I bet that you can find a carder to process all of that gorgeous wool into yarn, or into quilt batting.

    With your luck: keep the bunny slippers out from under the bed.

    And Annabelle has a boyfriend already! Aww! so cute.

  64. Organizing Mommy says:

    Wow! That is fabulous!! Good for you. Amy at AHMusing referenced your blog. It’s so neat. I would like some wool when you are shearing. My grandma used to spin and weave the wool right from the sheep. Do you do that?

  65. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Hi, Organizing Mommy! I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s going to be all new to me!

  66. Alison says:

    So who is Coco going to stay with the goats or the sheep? That’s great that you have more additions to your farm. I look forward to hearing more about them.

  67. April says:

    Congratulations on scoring not just “free” sheep but really awesome breeds. I remember seeing the Jacobs when I lived in Scotland and… if I could justify them somehow, I’d have them just for the weird horns! You might look into marketing the Cotswold wool to feltmakers. I think it’s one of the good wools for that. Of course, there’s always the spinners’ market!

    A friend left your link on my blog, saying inly that “I’d like it.” Glad I clicked!!!!

  68. jaq says:

    Man you don’t do anything in halves, do you? One could say you go whole hog. *g*

    Fabulous looking flock, Suzanne. :sheep: So what’s next on your list? Have you about keeping your own honey bees?

  69. Patti says:

    fluffy fleece—way good
    I think one of your Jacobs put her horns on backwards this morning. So hard for a girl to get ready for the day with no mirror! πŸ˜€

  70. Molly says:

    Really, learn how to spin! It’s so relaxing and much easier than you think. Or you can have the wool processed by a company that does that. Or you can send the fleeces to me. Yes, that’s it. To me….Seriously I would buy fiber, yarn, anything. Of course, I’m obsessed with wool. I would even knit you something with it! :sheep:

  71. CATRAY44 says:

    I wish that farmer could know just how many people he really gave those sheep to! God bless you all!

  72. Kim W says:

    I love that sheep w/the big flopsy-mopsy wool hanging over his face and eyes!

    Blessings from Ohio…

  73. Michelle Kemper Brownlow says:

    OH MY GOODNESS…I have never been all that into sheep but HOLY COW (SHEEP?) these new additions to your family are just precious! I was so thrilled to read all about it!
    Good luck!

  74. Robin says:

    It may be hard to find a real elephant to take home, but this charity does some good work with ex-circus elephants. The website is pretty neat:


  75. Patty says:

    Oh they are all so beautiful. I can’t believe the fur/wool is so curly. As far as what to do with it. I would suggest finding a spinning wheel, learning to use it and knit, knit, knit!

  76. the domestic fringe says:

    Oh, my…that’s a lot of sheep. :sheep: I really like the primitive ones. They’ve got a lot of character.

    The picture of the dog and sheep sleeping side by side is priceless.


  77. Linda says:

    How cool is that you not only got an instant flock but you are helping save not one but two rare breeds and free besides. I have never even heard of Cotswold sheep before but they are beutiful. I love how the wool looks like ringlets around the face.

  78. Runningtrails says:

    Wonderful! Just absolutely wonderful! Those are great sheep! You are doing such a good thing, saving those purebreeds. Free too! I love free things! Wow! I’m just stunned at what you got for free! And so jealous too, in a kind way!

    Those Cotswold sheet look a bit like angoras, with that long curly fleece. I’ll bet they make marvelous sweaters!

    You have got to learn to sheer, wash, card, spin and knit that wool. You can make reallly good money selling pure, undyed, handmade sweaters from rare and endangered heritage breeds of sheep. You just have to advertise it correctly and in the right places. I have seen sweater selling for $1000 in specialty shops in NYC because they were handmade from natural wool, etc. etc. Find someone in NYC to market them for you.

  79. Abiga/karen says:

    Wonderful that you were able to get the sheep. Such a great kind they are too! My son in law and daughter are driving up to Wisconsin right now to pick up two mama goats so they can get settled in before they are due in March. They have been frantically getting the barn and fencing ready this past week braving the cold winds we get here on the plains in central IL. Hope we get sheep for wool some day soon too. Well, back to watching the grandies for them. Uh oh what are they up to now! Blessings.

  80. Heidi says:

    Great post – I love your blog. Those sheep are amazing, we went for Shetlands as they are smaller so less scary! But the wool on those Cotswolds and the horns on those Jacobs make me start wondering …… :sheep:

  81. sam says:

    To bad they aren’t miniature sheep. They make the goats seem so small!!

  82. Sonia says:

    I’m glad you got you sheep!
    I see that the ram is with the ewes! so we’ll be hearing the pitter patter of more Annabelles soon? Do you know that goats and sheep interbreed? I think maybee you should build the ram a batchelor pad and plan his girly moments! Sonia T

  83. kathy says:

    Do they have any cotswolds left? They are beautiful. I am in southwestern pa and would be very interested.

  84. Christy O says:

    I just got a Jacob ewe yesterday. She is so cool! How are you going about getting yours registered? Someone told me I could do it with pictures. I’d like to find a jacob ram to breed her too next year. Mine still needs to be sheared.

  85. kimberly sherrod says:

    I found your site through Stumble Upon and I am so enchanted with your writing, your photography and now I’m in love with your sheep! I have purchased my first spinning wheel and am looking forward to learning to spin. Thank you for sharing your stories in such a delightful and entertaining way! I can’t wait to read more!

  86. Sarah says:

    Hello! I came across your blog, and loved it, even before I found out you have Jacobs. I JUST got my first 2 about 3 weeks ago, and I am going back to get a (hopefully) pregnant ewe in December. I LOVE their personalities, mine see me and come RUNNING. They know my voice and they love themselves some grain! =)

    Well, I will DEFINITELY be checking back! Thanks!

  87. rileysmom says:

    Miss Suzanne,

    Do you brush your sheep? Ingomar, Montana (don’t blink if try to find it on a map; it’s a town of maybe 5!) is like the sheep capital, and none look as well-groomed as yours.

    We haven’t any sheep but have helped a neighbor bottle feed “bum’ lambs; it’s so fun. I can see why you like them…

  88. Sandra says:

    Aww! I want a flock too!

    Working on pasture fencing for Icelandics.

    I am a shearer located in Oklahoma, too bad you are so
    far away. πŸ™

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