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The Right Sheep

posted Dec 1, 2009, 8:37 AM by Mary Powell
Brownland Farm and Fiber is one of only two breeders of registered Leicester Longwools in the state of Kentucky. Mrs. Ann Brown raises about 30 Leicesters on this 128 acre farm, along with Cotswold, Dorset, and Karakul sheep, and a cow/calf operation. We visited on a beautiful May afternoon with abundant sunshine and just enough heat that shade was welcome. The farm consisted of a classic white farmhouse with giant shade trees, barns, dogs, and, of course, those rolling green hills dotted with fluffy sheep.

Like most heritage breeds, Leicesters are "easy keepers," meaning they don't need a lot of feed or medications compared with modern sheep. They live a long time (for a sheep), and the mothers have little trouble with their mothering. For farmers like Mrs. Brown, such characteristics are as important as wool quality.

To my surprise, not all the sheep were white. Some are a glistening black. Having been sheared only two months before, none had their characteristic curtains of curls, only short, bouncy ringlets. Several lambs frolicked around their mothers, more adorable than any creature has a right to be. All were busy mowing the lush spring grass, and ignored me and my camera completely. Mrs. Brown says Leicesters are very docile and easy to handle, but they knew I have no treats for them and therefore they refused to pose for close-ups. This ewe did come up for a closer look, but not very close.