New Services for BLU members in the works

The new BLU board has not let any grass grow under its feet in taking up several projects designed to enhance members’ interactions with the organization, particularly online. After several meetings, it became clear that members want more information regarding pedigrees, youth activities, imported bloodlines, events and more in an easily accessible format, kept current and responsive. The board decided to begin with an overhaul of this, the BLU website, to make it easier to use and keep updated, while also adding some pivotal member services. Look for the following services to be available starting this summer:

-Online searchable database, containing the pedigrees of all sheep registered with BLU since its inception

-Online registration option

-Online membership signup/ renewal option

Obviously, expenses are being incurred in the undertaking of these projects, and for now, BLU is absorbing those costs. However, to maintain these new member services going forward, we are looking at a modest increase in fees (currently among the lowest among U.S. sheep registries) beginning in 2024:

  • Junior membership: from $5 to $10, AND the junior must record their date of birth and / or age on Jan 1 of the year that the membership is purchased for
  • Active (adult) membership: from $15 to $20
  • Associate (non-voting, non-registering): from $10 to $15
  • Registration of lambs in the calendar year of birth: from $5 to $7 for members, from $10 to $14 for non-members
  • Registration of animals after the calendar year of birth: unchanged ($10 for members, $20 or non-members)
  • Transfers: from $5 to $7 for members, from $10 to $14 for non-members
  • Registration of imported semen: from $5 to $7
  • All other fees unchanged.

The board trusts that members will understand the reasons behind this very rare increase in fees and that they will see the value of it in the additional services being provided. In announcing them now, we hope that members will be able to plan for the increases and be motivated to try out the new services when they become available this summer.

Find a Farm

It’s been a long time coming, but we now have a farm search function on!

Visitors to can now go to the (hopefully self-explanatory) Find a Farm tab and search for what they are looking for, be it breedstock, wool, a local farm, yarn, etc.

BLU members who wish to offer sheep, products or services should sign up for an account, log in, and begin adding relevant information to their listings. Be sure to specifically list what you are offering – if you don’t add the keyword in your listing, the search bar cannot find you! Suggested keywords might be: breedingstock, rams, ewes, raw wool, yarn, or any other word commonly used to describe your products. Links to your website are beneficial for search engine optimization, so be sure to link your site to while you’re thinking of website matters.

Summary of August 27th board meeting

The BLU board met by teleconference meeting on August 27th at 7PM EDT. 5 board members were in attendance, as well the as Sect/Treas. Unable to attend due to prior commitments were Paul Genge and Kat Bierkens.

The minutes of the previous meeting in April will be approved by a poll. The current balance in the treasury is $8,756.35, with an additional $29.80 in the Paypal account. There are currently 77 members, of which 5 are Canadian. A note from the Bloomsburg PA fair was read, thanking the association for its contribution to the BFL show classes.

The bylaws & standards committee has been contacted by one of our members, requesting that the so called “silver” BFLs that are currently registered as “black patterned” be given their own code on the pedigree so that interested breeders can track this color pattern. The committee is hard at work on a draft of this proposal, including photographs so that members can identify and differentiate this color from black pattern will be drawn up and presented to the board for its approval.

The media committee announced that the web designer had just completed work on the new website. The commiittee will be working on tweaking the site, and when complete, will present the site to the board for its comments.

The genetics taskforce has been in contact with some traditional type BFL breeders in the UK who are willing to have rams collected for export to the US in the fall of 2020. This is good news for the continued progress of our breed.

The national show committee intends to attend the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival in September to get a better idea of the show venue for the 2020 National BFL show.

There was a brief discussion on how to continue promoting BFLs as viable commercial sheep. This will be continued at subsequent meetings. It was pointed out the the breed is thriving in a wide variety of climates here in the states, from coastal Florida to the Rocky mountains.

The upcoming board election was discussed, with suggestions for members to approach to run. Positions up for election are Vice-President and 2 directors. All current paid adult members are eligible, with bios due by October 25th. Only adult members whose dues are paid by October 1st are eligible to vote.

2020 National Show venue sought

  The BLU board is accepting applications for show venues for the 2020 BFL National Show.   Please contact any board member to make suggestions for the venue.  There is an proposal form available which covers many of the questions, requirements, and considerations to be made when choosing a site for the show.   It should be completed and submitted to the breed secretary, listed on the form.

2020 National Show Proposal Form

Summary of the January 17th BLU board meeting

The BLU board met by teleconference meeting on January 17th at 7PM EST. All board members were in attendance, as well the as Sect/Treas. Incoming President Katie Sullivan (VT) welcomed new board member Paul Genge (WA). During the meeting, the board voted to appoint Margie Smith (PA) to the board seat vacated when Katie took office.

The minutes of the previous meeting in April had been approved by a poll. The current balance in the treasury is $10,484.22, confirmed by a copy of the bank statement. Each board member was also provided with a copy of the income and expense detail for YTD 2018. 14 new member packets were sent out during 2018. There are 98 members, of which 7 are Canadian.

There were 332 new registrations, and 161 transfers processed by the breed registry, administered by Associated Sheep Registries in Wamego, KS. The free classified ads offered on the BLU website have been used quite a bit this year, with 19 ads placed.

The committee chairs have been busy working on new projects for the association. The bylaws & standards committee has been contacted by one of our members, requesting that the so called “silver” BFLs that are currently registered as “black patterned” be given their own code on the pedigree so that interested breeders can track this color pattern. A draft of this proposal, including photographs so that members can identify and differentiate this color from black pattern will be drawn up and presented to the board for its approval.

The media committee announced that the redesigned logo project is completed, with 3 different versions as well as an embroidery file created. The next major project will be to have the website updated and the outdated plug-ins and work-arounds fixed. The committee will work on getting estimates for the cost of the overhaul.

The youth committee has suggested a scholarship program for our youth members, and will be working on a proposal for the next meeting. Another proposal is for an award to help offset the cost of youth members purchasing breeding stock. It was suggested that a youth sit on this committee.

The genetics taskforce suggested that it work on a list of different bloodlines available in the US to make it easier for members to find unrelated breeding stock.

The national show committee will be sending out a call for show venues, with the show proposal deadline of April 1st. The next show will be in 2020.

The next meeting will be held in the second half of April.

2019 Dues

It is time for 2019 dues to be paid.  Please complete a work order, make out the check to BLU, and mail it to ASR at the address posted on our website.  You can also print a copy of the work order there.   It’s important to pay your dues within the 60 day grace period at the beginning of each year so that you take full advantage of the benefits of membership.   Only paid members will remain on the list of members provided on the website, and are able to vote in elections. 

2018 Election Results

The BLU board election is completed. Our incoming President is Katie Sullivan of Vermont, beginning her term on January 1st. Elected to his first term on the board is Paul Genge (Washington): and re-elected to the board are Margaret VanCamp (Michigan) and Kat Bierkens of Oregon. Please join me in congratulating them. A heartfelt thank you to outgoing board members Rose Schmidt- Landin(Wisconsin) and Karen Szewc(Oregon) .The first board meeting of 2019 is scheduled for early January. Please contact any board member if you have an item for the agenda.  The site for the 2020 BFL National Show will be discussed at this meeting.

Candidate Statements for 2018 election

Ballots will be mailed out  the 1st week of November, and are due back to the election chairperson by December 1st. Ballots will be mailed to all active members as of October 1st. Here are the candidates:


Katie Sullivan

Cloverworks Farm

Albany, VT

Hi, my name is Katie Sullivan and I live in Albany, VT. l have been raising BFLs since 2016 but have been raising sheep since 2012.  My BFL flock is now 20 strong, with 25 Border Leicesters rounding out our numbers.

As a board member, I worked on efforts to update our logo, improve our website and participate actively in outreach to new shepherds.  As President, I would continue these efforts while also helping to initiate projects to keep BFL genetics sustainable long-term in the US in the face of a diminishing likelihood of further semen imports.


Kat Bierkens

Terra Mia

Days Creek, OR

Please consider Kat Bierkens as one of your next board members. She is running for a second term as a representative of the BFL Union of North America. Kat Bierkens is an artist and flocktender in Southern Oregon where she raises purebred Bluefaced Leicester sheep and a herd of dairy goats under the flockname Terra Mia. She has been working with livestock since 2010 when started attending local sheep and goat shows to learn more about the breed types and standards. In 2014 she acquired her first BFL and has been in love with the breed since. Kat has been working with children and livestock since she moved to Days Creek, Oregon in 2008. She is still currently a 4H leader and works directly with youth in the area providing animals for lease yearly to allow youth, who do not have the facilities, learn the joy (and hard work) that comes from working with sheep and goats. She is currently the youth committee chair at BLU. Kat regularly attends at minimum 4-6 sheep and goat shows a year to get more information about the direction she needs to go with her flock as well as gain insight on what the breed standard should look like. She also feels it is important for the BFL breed to be recognized locally and regionally for their value in breeding programs. This can only be done, she says, with an increased presence at livestock shows and wool breed events.

Kat currently has a small flock of 9 BFL breeding ewes and 4 rams along with her other fiber sheep and crossbred dual-purpose mule ewes, which total 26 head. She has learned to shear her own sheep, process the wool, dye and finally spin and/or craft with the fabulous bfl locks. She feels this hands-on approach is needed to have the ability to rate her animals fleece and make decisions regarding breeding and which sheep get to stay. Her goal is to keep her flock small and only keep the very best genetics and conformationally correct animals.

Related Experience: ~2017-2018 BLU board member and youth committee chairperson. ~2010-2018 4H Sheep and Dairy Goat leader in Douglas County, Oregon. Previous board experience: ~2017-2018 BLU board member and youth committee chairperson. ~6 years on the Days Creek Charter School Board and 2 years Days Creek Charter Fundraising Advisory Committee. ~Became a member of Bluefaced Leicesters Union in 2014. Education: Master Degree in Special Education U of P; Cross Categorical. BS in Liberal Arts, OSU Employment: 2008-2016 Teaching in Special Education Currently employed at the Oregon Virtual Academy

Lynn Braswell 

Lambie Pie Wool

Smithville, MO

Lambie Pie Wool is a small family owned wool sheep business located on the Willow Springs Horse Farm in Smithville, Missouri. Our ewes and rams and lambs are part of our family. We breed and raise our sheep for the wool only. They are well cared for, loved and very friendly. The Blue Faced Leicester breed wool is coveted and a spinners dream.

Retired from a 43 year career in nursing in 2015. In 2015 I purchased 6 pregnant Shetland ewes, 6 BFL/Corriedale cross ewes and one pregnant 3/4 BFL Cheviat ewe. A year later I divested all of the shetlands except for two wethers and purchased a registered BFL Ram from Jen Fitzwater. The following year I divested all of the Ewe crosses except for the Cheviat cross.  I purchased new ewes from Caryn Miller. 5 were registered, one died so today I have 4 registered ewes, three registered rams and 4 registered ewe lambs along with 5 cross ewes with beautiful fleeces.  My cross flock is 7/8 BFL or better and all are crossed with Cheviat except for one that is a BL/BFL cross.  Next year my plan is to divest all cross ewes and have a pure BFL flock (except for a multitude of wethers that my grandchildren have adopted!).

It didn’t take long for me to recognize the gentle nature of the BFL and fall in love with the breed. They are wonderful mothers and the lambs grow quickly and are very healthy.  Their fleece is a dream!  Lustrous, fine and the yarn is drapey and so soft.   

I have gone through a steep learning curve, made mistakes and have tried to go beyond just the basics of animal husbandry toward an understanding of the breed, where we  started and where we can go.  This led me to take a long look at my own flocks lineage and is why this year I traveled to Oregon to purchase a new ram (4G) and two ewe lambs ( Liongate). My plan is to change rams every couple of years until the Midwest BFL’s are more diversified.  

While at Nationals I visited with Karen Szwec about the fact that there are so few midwest breeders.  I have focused on  selling my lambs to people that are willing to get involved in the breed, are looking to develop mule flocks and want to raise registered flocks.  Thus far I have two that have purchased rams that have reserved ewe Lambs for next year.   

I must mention my mentors.  This is not a great business to get into without a guide.  Caryn Miller has been at my side throughout this journey.  She has educated me about the breed, taught me the basics of handling wool and helped me with a multitude of medical issues.  We are in dire straights here when it comes to veterinary medicine for the small ruminant.  Barbie Ernst (Heritage Shetlands) has also helped and holds an annual seminar on small ruminant health and management. Fortunately, my medical background has helped me manage most issues but having veterinary support is indispensable. I hope to hold a similar seminar here in northern Missouri in the near future.  Karen Szwec has helped refine my ability to process wool, introduced me to breeders in the northwest and is there to answer questions whenever I am nearing a panic attack!

Knowing how these women have helped me I am now here for my clients as my lambs move onto other farms.  I send each farm off with a guide that I wrote on the care of sheep which includes links to some of the on line content that has helped me (including and am available at any time to assist.  

I have experimented with a couple of wool processors and continue to seek out the best for our type of wool.  I both knit and weave.  

I am interested in tracking our breed from its entry into the US and where the progeny have traveled to.  This interest comes from looking at the lineage of my flock and how best to diversify bloodlines.  

I am also interested in learning to show (I plan on showing at our next national show).  

Lastly I am interested in meeting more breeders from the country.  

Paul Genge

4 G Farms

Ellensburg WA

Hi, I would like to be considered for one of the board positions. I feel my passion for raising a traditional and correct flock of BFL’s while sticking to the highest standards would make me a good candidate for a position. My wife, Sharidyn, and I own 4 G Farms which is a hay and sheep farm in the heart of Washington State. My passion for Bfl’s all started when my wife wanted to get a small flock of fiber sheep (6 ewes and a ram) which were all BFL/Gotland crosses. Well, with four of the ewes being related to my ram that put me out on a mission for a new unrelated ram. That’s when I got my first BFL, a ram named Walden and his daughter, and that’s when it all started! Then, over the next couple years, I have done a lot of research into the breed and talking with a lot of great people. I found out what characteristics/genetics I wanted in my flock, and then purchased Blues from a few different Breeders from across the country that met my breeding standards. These would be the beginning of my foundation flock. I have put a lot of emphasis on increasing the frame size and color while maintaining the true traits. We have spent the last year and half transitioning to an all pasture/ hay flock. We currently have a flock of 30 BFL’s and still growing!! When it comes to my passion for the Blues, it doesn’t just stop at my sheep. Whenever possible, I try to promote the breed. This year, we donated a Blue to our neighbor who was in 4H and she showed the very first BFL in the history of our Fair. I could say it was an eye opener for everyone attending, which met with a lot of questions and I was all so happy to talk about. It was also the first year we showed our own sheep at Black Sheep Gathering (also Nationals for BFl’s) which was a great experience and one that we will continue to do.I look forward to my involvement in the BLU, while also continuing to promote the breed!

Margie Smith

Marlindale Farm

New Oxford, PA

My name is Margie Smith and I would be interested in running for the BLU Board. I’ve been farming as an adult since 1980 in Frederick County Maryland. I worked for a dairy farmer, raised my own milking herd and also worked as a DHIA tester for a couple of years. Working in the dairy business gave me the experience with genetics that I now use with my BFL sheep.

In 1982, my children wanted some lambs. We started with Hampshires, then moved to Hampshire/Suffolk crosses. They lost interest, but I didn’t! I loved working with the genetics to see if I could make a meatier animal. We did get almost there, but it just made me rethink is that all there is to sheep? We were throwing away the fleeces which as a farmer, was something you just didn’t do. I experimented with Montadales, but again, as a cross-over breed, I just thought we could do better. I was introduced to Nancy Starkey who had Border Leicesters at the time. So we experimented with crossing the Montadales with the BL’s. The first generation crosses were OK, but not what I wanted. We then saw a BFL standing in Nancy’s field – the 2nd time I went to purchase sheep from her. I fell in love with the shimmer and her quiet disposition – so, my first BFL came home.

With help from Emily Chamelin as well as Nancy Starkey, and many others including my wonderful veterinarian – we arrived to where we are now. Only one of my ewes is not born and bred here. I have some of my first generation Marlindale lines still here and still going strong. We are a small farm – only 4 acres, of which we use 2.5 for livestock. My fleeces have been shown since 2000, and we’ve won 1st place in the BFL division for the past 6 or so years at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

I retired from teaching in 2013, and have worked in retail since then, giving me a sense of marketing of my sheep and fleeces. I have mentored a few people getting started in sheep and in the BFL breed. I am also serving on the Council of our church- 1st Lutheran Evangelical Church in New Oxford. From farming and teaching (as well as motherhood!) I have developed managerial, organizational and goal-oriented skills. I am a member of the Maryland Sheep Breeders Association, Frederick County (Maryland) Sheep Breeders, Pennsylvania Wool Growers Association and Farm Bureau.

I feel I could bring those skills, especially with producing quality fleeces to the BLU. Actually, some of what I’ve learned has been used to develop Face Book “how to’s” for using sheep sheets. We’ve also created a video on skirting a fleece for show and sale.

Thank you for considering me!

Margaret VanCamp

Pitchfork Ranch

Swartz Creek, MI

I’m Margaret Van Camp, and I am running for election to the BLU board. I have been a partner in Pitchfork Ranch in Swartz Creek, Michigan since 1996, where Cindy Cieciwa and I have a flock of 40 ewes, one third of which are BFLs.

I have served as President for the last four years, and am well acquainted with the operations of the board. The policies and practices we have implemented have the BLU on a solid financial footing, with an excellent outlook. I am willing to use this experience to help the board continue this progress. BFLs are increasing in visibility and appeal to breeders with many different goals, and I hope to help continue this progress. In particular, I and encouraged by the growing interest of young breeders in our breed, and would love to see this growth continue.

I would appreciate your vote.