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.
Blueland Farm, owned by BLU Vice-President Meredith Myers-Null and husband,Dan. Read the entire article here:
This article was originally published in The Shepherd Magazine. Kelly Ward is the founder of the Bluefaced Leicester Union, and started the breed registry. Here is a portion of her story:
Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America (BLU) History
Though breeders developed for as a maternal crossing sire in the UK, the Bluefaced Leicester enjoys multipurpose popularity in the US. The Bluefaced Leicester sheep had come from the UK into Canada in the 1970s, when animals could still travel between the UK and North America.. Frank Richardson, Nova Scotia, had a flock and he exported to Anne Priest, New York; also to Frank Baylis, Virginia, he sent four ewes and two rams in 1986. Frank Baylis displayed Bluefaced Leicester rams at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 1990 and 1992.
In 1995 Mr. Baylis, had a Bluefaced Leicester ram in the wool breeds display in the building next to our pens at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Fellow traveller, Letty Klein, wanted me to see the ram. The idea of his whole flock being dispersed for sale was “interesting” to me but I was focused on Romneys at the time. On our way back from Maryland and headed home, we spent the first night in Breezewood, Pennsylvania. Before dawn the next morning I took the first driving shift. After changing drivers, I woke up from my first snooze, and announced I wanted to save these sheep. My son and I returned to Frank’s place a few days later and brought back 13 ewes, 4 rams and 8 lambs. Later, Kelly Ward and Lisa Rodenfels went to Nova Scotia to purchase the last of David Firth’s Canadian flock.
The initial group of breeders was small but enthusiasm for the breed quickly spread. The Fall 1999 issue of “Spin Off” featured a five page spread by Carol Huebscher Rhoades, and the cover entitled “Beautiful Bluefaced Leicester”. It reached a multitude of spinning enthusiasts. By 1998 there were had nine breeders, the next year there were 15. January 1999 I registered as a “doing business as (DBA)” in order to open a checking account in the name of the Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America, listing myself as “Secretary-Treasurer”. The next order of business was to create the registry. Breeders recognized the critical importance of tracking their limited bloodlines while maintaining the impartiality and integrity in the records. Kary Claghorn’s Association Sheep Registries was chosen.
US Bluefaced Leicester breeders struggled with the limited genetic pool available after stock importation was discontinued between North American and the UK. The breakthrough for the breed was the ability of the US sheep breeder to import frozen semen from the UK. Enter Martin Dally, DVM, UC Davis, to facilitate the importation, storage, implantation, and procedure to accomplish this. The Bluefaced Leicester now had firm footing in its future.
US breeders began to export to Canada. An important movement began in Canada to have the Bluefaced Leicester recognized by the Canadian Sheep Association. The registry had renewed importance. This was achieved and gave new meaning to the “Union of North America” that was only a hope at the onset.
The acronym for the Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America is BLU, a registered service mark with the US Patent & Trademark Office. By 2009 BLU became a non-profit organization with bylaws and these bylaws mandated an election of officers be held. An impartial election supervisor was selected to mail and tally the vote. The new officers took place January 1, 2010 in a seamless transition for the association.
It’s been a great personal journey to start the breed from an idea to a coast-to-coast population. Dedicated breeders who believed in these sheep, awed by an incredible fleece, a well-structured body with dams that held their bags high and clean, made it happen.Kelly (in blue) with her national champion ram, awarded at the first BFL national show during the festival in Rhinebeck NY. October 2007. With her (in white), is Kristen Barndt, the first BLU breed secretary. Looking on, in the far left corner, is Kelly’s longtime friend and fellow shepherd, Letty Kline. Letty is a well know sheep and fleece judge, Karakul breeder, and a long time supporter of the BLU.
As the 2018 sheep show and fiber festival season draws to a close, BLU would like to remind our members of the advertising dollars spent promoting the breed and the breeders during the year.
Since 3 of BLU’s stated goals are promotion related:
* To engage in the education and promotion of Bluefaced Leicester sheep,
*To provide interested people with information about Bluefaced Leicester sheep and their products,
*To promote interest in the Bluefaced Leicester breed of sheep wherever possible in order to attract new breeders for the propagation and well-being of the breed.
the board feels strongly that a large portion of the budget each year should be spent on promotion and advertizing.
Here is a list of the shows and festivals where advertising dollars were spent in 2018. These events have traditionally been attended by BLU members, either showing sheep or BFL fiber, or as vendors in fiber shows.
*Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival – $350.00 This includes support for the working herding dog demonstration given by long time breeder, Nancy Starkey, using BFLs. New this year was a sponsorship for a special award for the winning BFL fleece in the wool competition.
*Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival – $85.00
*Northeastern Youth Sheep Show sponsorship of $50.00
Because the 2018 BFL national show will be held during the Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon, there were special ads place in magazines to promote the event.
*Banner Magazine – $211.50
*Black Sheep Gathering – complimentary ad valued at $99.00
Besides promoting BFLs at shows, there are also ads placed in the major sheep magazines – The Shepherd and Sheep! both have paid listings in the breed section of each magazine, at a total cost of $80.00 per year. The Banner magazine provides space for notes from breed associations at no cost – a great benefit! And because BFLs were the featured breed in the September 2018 issue of The Shepherd, we also placed a color ad in that issue for $105.00.
Each year, Spin-Off Magazine publishes a natural fiber directory insert which lists fiber sources for its subscribers. This year, BLU placed an ad in the breed association section, which runs $150.00.
Because we also have members in Canada, an ad was placed in Sheep Canada for $392.14
And because our breed display was in need of updating, a new banner was designed and ordered at a cost of $111.99.
The board would like to invite any member who attends a show or festival with their BFL sheep or fiber to submit a request to advertise at that show. We’d also like to remind you that BLU has banners available to borrow if you’d like to promote the breed registry at events. Besides banners, there are also promotional materials available to print here on the website. (click on “about BLU” and then on “Promotional Materials”)
Bluefaced Leicesters are featured in the September issue of The Shepherd Magazine. A big THANK YOU to the folks who answered the call and contributed articles and photos to this effort.
If you do not receive this magazine, a copy of this issue can be obtained at this site:
Breeders Young Flock – Pitchfork Ranch, Swartz Creek, MI
Best Fleece – Kieran VanHorsen, Albany, OR
Best Head – 4G Farms, Ellensburg, WA (also, Res CH Ram)
Champion ram (natural colored ram lamb) Pitchfork Ranch, MI
Champion Ewe (white ewe lamb) – Pitchfork Ranch, MI
The winner of the Bluefaced Leicester yearling ewe from the Youth Conservation Program this year is Mackenzie Weist. Makenzie is the daughter of Jennifer and Kevin Weist, and hails from Creamton, PA. In her essay that is part of the selection process, Mackenzie states that she lives on a farm that her great, great grandparents purchased in the early 1900’s. The farm has a history of sheep on it, and now is home to Bluefaced Leicesters. She looks forward to using the fleece from her ewe to make a sweater, and a hat for her aunt. The ewe was donated by Pitchfork Ranch in Michigan. Pictured is Margaret VanCamp with Mackenzie and her new BFL ewe
In honor of the 20th year of BLU, the BLU board voted unanimously to refresh our logo. The basic design will stay the same, but fonts and colors will be refreshed and we will gain higher-resolution images of our logo to improve our printing performance.
We are looking for a new sheep photograph to fill the roll of the “Official Sheep” on the BLU logo. Clearly, a contest is in order!
We are looking for:
*Photographs of registered US BFL sheep, ram or ewe.
*White sheep only, to best illustrate the “blue” color
*Headshots in full profile or 3/4 profile (current Logo pose). Please do not send uncropped, full-body photos
*Excellent head shape and beautiful blue color.
Entries will be judged anonymously by our “Lifetime Members”, breeders-emeritus who have made tremendous contributions to the breed in the US, but who no longer have active flocks. Eartags and other identifying material in a photo will be obscured before judging. Photos will be judged on head quality and photographic quality.
And, of course, the winner gets the honor of owning the sheep who is the Official Sheep of the BLU logo!
Submit photos and/or questions to
Deadline to enter June 1st
In April 2017, youth farmer Charles O’Boyle wrote and submitted an essay for the Youth Conservationist Program. This program awards Heritage Breeds Yearling Ewe Lambs to 4-H members throughout the country. The 4-H members selected to receive a yearling ewe lamb, write essays on what the heritage breeds mean and how they can help preserve those breeds of our fore-fathers for future generations. Charles was awarded in May, a Bluefaced Leicester Ewe lamb named Kimmie. He has showed her in the Allegany County Fair in 2017. As part of the project, he bred her this past fall. She had twin lambs born this February.
Charles is a 4-H member of Allegany County’s Mountain and Valley club, Livestock Judging member and Livestock Skill-a-thon participant. He has shown livestock at the Allegany County Fair for the last 5 years. He resides on a small family farmette outside Cumberland, MD. Charles is also a Boy Scout from Troop 9.
Kimmie is a Bluefaced Leicester who was donated by Meredith Myers Null from Mount Airy, MD. Bluefaced Leicesters are known for their wool quality. They are a longwool breed of sheep with a very distinct Roman nose. The skin for these are blue with white lustre wool. There are some that are a natural colored wool. They have no wool on their legs and head. These sheep came from Leicestershire hence giving them their name. Kimmie is a white colored lamb. She has given birth to a white colored and a natural colored lambs.
Charles plans to show Kimmie and her lambs (yet to be named) at the 2018 Allegany County Fair and at the 2018 Maryland State Fair. He is excited to be starting his Bluefaced Leicester herd. For more information on the Youth Conservationist Program contact Elaine Ashcraft at 740-622-1573 or Charles at email@example.com. For more information on the Bluefaced Leicester Lambs you may contact either Charles or see the Bluefaced Leicester Union’s website www.bflsheep.com.
Farms all over the US are reporting lambs on the ground. Lambing will continue through the spring months.
The Chapins of Smiling Sheep in New Hampshire welcome this brand new lamb from a Pitchfork ewe and a TerraMia ram. Look for this youngster in the showring, handled by Ellora this year!
Kathy Koning-Mcclure of Frivolous Ewe in Illinois has a proud new BFL mother.
A lovely set of triplets from Karen Szewc of Liongate Farm in Oregon,produced by her Winston and Paisley. The mild weather in that part of the country made for a pleasant lambing season.
Paul Genge, in Washington state, has lambs arriving from his successful AI effort. This super-blue little ram is the offspring of Beechtree’s Moonstone, AI’ed to Mossvale Masterplan.
Rhiannon Curley shares a set of twins with us, a ram and a ewe from Jehovah’s Cornerstone x Koenig Doheney. Doheney is seven this year. Rhiannon is from Oregon.
Another set of twins from Terra Mia Kat Bierkens in Oregon.