News

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:

CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT

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.

FIVE (5) CANDIDATES FOR BOARD POSITIONS

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 bflsheep.com) 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.

 

Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America (BLU) History

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.

Your 2018 advertising dollars at work

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”)

2018 BLU Election approaches

Deadline to submit resumes to run for  President or 3 board positions is OCTOBER 25th ***
Send resume to BLU breed secretary at 44011 County Rd 23, Coshocton, OH 43812, or email to info@bflsheep.com

Timeline for Election:

October 25th – Last day to receive resumes for candidacies. Resumes will be posted on the BLU website during the election.
Nov. 1st – Election Supervisor will mail ballots to all BLU full members paid as of October 1, 2018. (please check the current membership list to be certain your membership is paid for 2018)
Dec. 1st – Deadline for ballots to be returned to Election Supervisor.
Dec. 5th – Election Supervisor will count ballots and report to BLU president.
Dec. 6th – President to contact all candidates with results, and post on website.

***Check by-laws for eligibility rules and position descriptions