by Sue Gustafson, Four Oaks Farm, Sebastopol, CA

Every year at the beginning of June the tingle starts. Black Sheep Gathering is in three weeks! The new lambs have been closely scrutinized, the decision has been made about which sheep are going to the show, and the entries are paid. Now it’s time to join forces with my traveling friend, Joyce Torrigino, load up, and leave in the middle of the night. It’s not as sneaky as it sounds! It’s just much cooler on both people and sheep to drive through the central valley of California at night and avoid the heat. The drive is twelve hours by the time we get there on Thursday afternoon.

We find our pens and bed down our sheep. We set up our display and I take my contribution to our sales pen in the barn. Robina Koenig, Jared Lloyd, and I have items for sale where Robina has set up a very nice display for BLU. There are dyed locks, white and natural colored roving, and Jared made wonderful scarves with a felted backing and locks of fleece needle felted to the front side. Just lovely!

At the show there were a total of 50 BFLs, including the natural colored, which show with the whites. In the ewe lamb class alone there were 22! What a marvelous sight to look out and see such numbers of my favorite sheep. Jared Lloyd (CO), Robina Koenig (OR), Brooke Jacubos (OR), Nancy Gilkeson (OR), and myself brought sheep and showed with help from the other BFL members who were there this year. Extra hands of Garrett Ramsay (MN, transported sheep from the east), Kelly Wilder (CA), Ann Morrison (WY), Rory and Jody McLean plus James and LoriAnne Nibourg from Alberta, Canada, all added to the fun of the show.

The comraderie in the barn and show ring is only added to by the socializing on our ‘off’ time. Our go-to eatery is the 6th Street Bar and Grill, a short walk from the Downtown Motel where several breeders stay the weekend. Great food and drink around a large table or two! Lots of conversation and excitement! Then on Saturday night the festival committee sponsors a pot luck. They barbeque the donated lamb and we bring the side dishes. Then we all head back to the show ring for the Spinner’s Lead, a lighthearted time of showing off what you’ve made while leading a sheep. The emcee makes it light and everyone gets a prize.

The show finishes on Sunday afternoon and we all pack up to make the drive home. The McLeans and the Nibourgs rounded up the sheep they had bought to make the long drive home to Alberta, Canada. Yes, more quality BFLs going from the USA to Canada. And Joyce and I started our trek back to California, certainly looking forward to next year at the Black Sheep Gathering. And just to add a prompt here, next year we will have our own BFL lot listed in the exhibitor’s book! For more information check out    See you there in 2013!



Of interest from the British BFL association

We are holding a meeting for those interested in hearing about the Bluefaced Leicester Association Performance Recording Scheme and our new “Performance Mule” initiative for the promotion of Mules sired by high index Bluefaced Leicester sires.

The “Performance Mule” initiative will help us supply the ever growing market for commercial ewes sired by high index rams that we are losing out on at the present time to our competitors.

This meeting is taking place at The Auctioneer, Borderway Mart, Carlisle on Tuesday 14th February, 2012 at 7.00p.m.

The main focus of the meeting will be a power point presentation given by Sam Boon of Signet this will be to show and discuss the benefits of Performance Recording in Bluefaced Leicester’s. We anticipate an increased demand for performance recorded Bluefaced Leicester’s with the launch of a recorded mule certification scheme.

We would encourage as many members as possible to attend this meeting.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact Matt Drummond on his mobile 07771934071 or contact myself on 07887 891678.
Myrfyn Roberts
Breed Development Chairman

***A group of US breeders have imported semen from performance recorded rams from both Mr Roberts and Mr Drummond.  The Bluefaced Leicester Union of North America encourages our members to use this data collected on UK rams as part of the criteria in selecting top sires for collection and import.

BLU board member makes national sheep news

BLU board member Jared Lloyd was recently interviewed for a Sheep Industry News article.  The article focuses on his flock expansion using Shetland and BFL genetics in a large western commercial flock.

At the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival, youth rule!

From Jill Johnson, Boyd, WI
My boys, Blake(age 11) and Tyler(age 9), have 15 BFLs.   BLU members LeeAnne & Weldon Richert (Cable, WI)  have helped them get started with a nice little flock. The boys make management decisions for their flock with a little help from us. They are also involved with the care and management of our 50+ ewe Cormo flock. They also enjoy helping with the marketing of our wool and help with educational presentations on sheep and wool.

Blake and Tyler had an exciting weekend during the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. Blake won champion youth fleece, champion natural colored fleece, and ultimately reserve supreme champion fleece with a natural colored Bluefaced Leicester fleece.
The fleece was the lamb fleece of RiverWinds 255 Muffy.

Blake and Tyler also exhibited the champion Natural colored ewe, RiverWinds 254 Miffy,(twin to Muffy) at the Great Lakes BFL show at WSWF. They also exhibited the reserve champion colored BFL ram and reserve champion white BFL ewe.

Tyler and his reserve champion white BFL ewe

To continue with my motherly bragging they also placed 1st and 3rd in the beginner division of the Youth sweepstakes held at the festival. The sweepstakes is a points competition based on all the youth activies at the festival. In all they had a good weekend.


Blake and his champion natural colored BFL ewe

Blake has shown his BFLs at our county fair for 3 years introducing something other than a Suffolk. Both boys have shown at WSWF for the last 3 years in the Great Lakes BFL show and the Junior show. Last year Blake actually showed the reserve supreme champion wool breed of the junior show with his white BFL yearling. Tyler has also had success in fleece competitions last year he exhibited the reserve champion white fleece at
Shepherd’s Harvest (Minnesota’s main sheep and wool festival)in a competition with more than 100 fleeces and then sold that fleece for $100 at silent auction.

Comments from fleece Judge Letty Klein: Out of about 130 fleece entries, there was one BFL, a natural colored one. It was stunning! I placed it 1st in the NC long wool class, then Champion NC
Division. Well, I then made the fleece Reserve Supreme over all the fleeces.

Photos by LeeAnne Richert

Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association Fleece Show and Sale

Contributed by Margaret Fryatt, British Columbia, Canada

On June 4th, 2011, Vancouver Island Fleece Judge, Matt Robley, evaluated fleeces entered by local sheep breeders. Of the 51 fleeces entered in the show, most came from the Fraser Valley. There were entries from further afield but my three entries traveled the greatest distance to be included. Fleeces were sifted by a committee of 22 association members prior to the show. Only those meeting the standards set by the LMPSA were judged. This event was hosted at the Belmont Farm, one of Langley’s heritage dairy farms. The facilities were perfect for the event with lots of room to spread out the fleeces for judging and also space for local vendors to ply their wares. After judging which was open to the public, fleeces were placed on display.

Just prior to the sale itself, the awards were announced. I was quite delighted to learn that one of my fleeces had been awarded the Glibbery/Tuytel Spinners Delight award. What could be more fitting than this! The award was started by the LMSPA to encourage producers to produce fleece that would encourage a spinner and recognize the great local fleeces available. The name of the award comes from two very prominent sheep raising families that have been very active and long time members in the LMSPA. The award does not necessarily go to the fleece with the highest score, but is selected by the judge as the one fleece that he or she deems to be the fleece that would most appeal to the spinning enthusiast best representing the qualities of hand, softness, staple length and luster. It was very exciting to have a Bluefaced Leicester fleece selected.

Many spinners in BC have not had the opportunity to see a BFL fleece in the grease and so there was always quite a crowd gathered around the tables. Many cries of delight were heard and I understand that the competition to purchase fleeces was very strong. I think that the fleeces were lovely and well represented the qualities of BFL fibre.

Many people are still unfamiliar with Bluefaced Leicester fiber and it is always fun to show them how soft and lustrous it is. It is my very favorite fibre to spin with and I find that more and more folks agree with me. Once you are hooked, you are hooked for the long term.

Of special significance for me is the fact that the award is named after one of the Shuswap Spinners and Weavers Guild members, Judith Glibbery. She and her husband made a huge contribution to sheep and fleece production during their tenure in the Lower Mainland and dedicating the award to them was intended to recognize their involvement. It certainly made winning this particular award extra meaningful for me!

Another well deserved show win

From Robina Koenig, Bend Oregon

Deschutes County Fair(Oregon), held Aug 2-7, 2011. There were 12 champion rams in the class from long, medium and fine fleeced with both natural colored and whites represented. Theo won the Supreme Ram under judge Pat Arias from Manteca, California.

Robina’s yearling BFL ewe also won reserve champion ewe overall.

Smile, Robina, you’ve done well!

Another Exciting win in Oregon

Daughter Christie with Grand Champion ewe "Jenny"
From BLU member Nancy Gilkeson

Well I want to share a shocking event with you all! My daughter Christie talked me into taking two BFL ewe lambs to show in open class at the Douglas County (Oregon) fair which is going on now. It was the first time ever for me to show at fair and only 2nd time ever to show my sheep. I have enjoyed that process by the granddaughters for a handful of years.
Our county has quite a few sheep but primarily the meat breeds who show there. Very few wool or dual use breeds are shown and so these all end up in “other” category. We showed along side the Shetlands.
My oldest BFL ewe lamb was nice and won first in the class with the younger lamb in third place out of five. Not much verification for me that “Jenny” is indeed wonderful but of course nice to get blue and Champion ribbons on her.

The thriller came when all champion ewes and ewe lambs from all the other classes (Suffolk, Dorset, Horned Dorset, St Croix, Cheviot, North Country Cheviot, Southdown, etc) were in the ring and the judge chose our BFL ewe lamb as Grand Champion Ewe in Open Class!!! Christie had said not to expect much with that Champion round as the top sheep in meat breeds are tough to compete against.
I could not be more thrilled with this win!!!


Good News for Canadian BFL Breeders

The Canadian Sheep Breeders Association Recognizes the Bluefaced Leicester For Registry in Canada

Written by Jody McLean 

On June 8th 2011 the Canadian Sheep Breeders Association (CSBA) voted to recognize the Bluefaced Leicester and allow certain animals to be registered in Canada. This was the culmination of a lot of work for the few BFL breeders in Canada that felt this would be a step forward in getting the attention of Canadian sheep breeders.

In 2009 we asked CSBA to register our Canadian born lambs from ewes and rams that were registered with BLUNA. In order for them to do this, they had to first look at the US registration and vote to accept it or not. They decided not to;  it was thought, because the first BFLs that were imported from Canada to the US were not registered, there was no way to prove their purebred status. Therefore CSBA could not accept the registry.

 In the meantime CSBA did vote to accept the UK BFL registry and their breed standard. We thought why not ask the UK to register our ewes and rams. We can then go back to CSBA and ask again for the registry based on their acceptance of the UK registration.

 Early in 2010 we approached Matt Drummond, who I’m sure you are all acquainted with. For those of you that are not, he is the owner of Cassington Farm and also sits on the board of directors of the BFL Sheep Breeders Association of Great Britain. We asked him to intercede for us in applying to register our animals in the UK. He brought our request to the next board meeting. It was voted on and accepted. We emailed our BLUNA pedigrees to the UK. They looked at them closely and voted to accept them. We were then issued certificates by email for our UK registrations.

 This spring (2011) we approached CSBA and asked again to register our BFLs on the basis of our UK registrations. They were more than a little surprised that we would ask again and it was thought that more work would have to be done on this to ensure it was on the “up and up.”  Stacey White, secretary for CSBA  emailed Matt Drummond several times with many questions about their process in accepting our registrations. Matt Drummond’s answers were the only reason that in June at the next board meeting, it was decided that the CSBA could now accept our registrations.

 It’s interesting to note that we can only register BFLs that are registered in the UK, but CSBA requires an extended pedigree (at least 5 generations.) The UK only provides 3. In order to get the 5 generations, we use the BLUNA certificates. So, in a round about way, they are accepting the BLUNA registrations with the exception of coloured animals. Because the UK doesn’t accept colour, neither will CSBA. All coloured BFLs will remain registered in the US and because of the colour issue we will continue to register all our lambs with BLUNA. Once we have a base of Canadian registered animals built, it will no longer be necessary to register them in the UK. At that point we will have a dual registry, US and Canadian.  

 We were asked by Stacey White (CSBA) to put together a Breed Description and a Breed Standard for the Canadian BFL. We mainly used a combination of the  BLU breed standard and the UK’s with some small revisions. You can see this on the CSBA webpage at

 With the importation of 3 excellent rams from the UK and the Canadian registry accepted, we are well on the way to re-establishing the BFL in Canada. As sheep breeders, we have exciting times ahead. Many thanks to all that contributed.

The 2011 Black Sheep Gathering Report

Submitted by Jared Lloyd

-Eugene, Oregon.

There was quite a turn out for the Bluefaced Leicester breed and breeders at this year’s event. It was exciting to see many familiar friends and to meet new ones. Breeders and buyers in attendance (I may have forgotten someone) were Robina and Callie Koenig (OR), Mike and Margaret Fryatt (BC), Jeff and Patricia Keeley-Seldomridge (WA), Sue Gustafson (CA), Ann Morrison (WY), Robyn West (MT), Garrett Ramsay (MN), Nancy Gilkeson (OR), Marybeth Bullington-Bury (OR), Kelly Wilder (CA), Janet Tulloch (CA), Lorraine Powell (CA), Brenda Searle (OR), Carol Leyh (CA), Robin Lynde (CA), Virginia Hall (OR) and a tall, gangly cowboy from Colorado…(Jared Lloyd)

Some good friends of the breed, Roy and Myrtle Dow, Steve and Terry Mendenhall, Martin and Joy Dally, Shirley DeMaris, Joyce Torigino, Amy Hamilton and our new friends Harry and Denise from Victoria, BC, were there supporting Bluefaced Leicesters.

The show serves as a hub of breeding stock exchange with many sires being distributed from California to British Columbia to Montana, and ewes going as far away as Minnesota.

The judging was fair and well-balanced with good emphasis on both structure and fleeces. If my notes are correct, there were thirty-eight entries in the Bluefaced Leicester classes. The championship ring was particularly exciting when Robina’s yearling ram, Koenig Langston (brilliantly named after John Cleese’s character in ‘Silverado’), was selected from dozens of champions with six other animals and was pulled to the center of the ring for special recognition. The judge commented that this ram “had the merit that would push the breed forward.” This is a tremendous testimony to his breeder as we all know that producing quality breeding stock is no easy accomplishment!

Champion Ram Koenig Langston

 Show Report-

Yearling Ram;

1st- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

2nd- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

3rd– Four Oaks Farm (CA) 

Ram Lamb;

1st- Ramona Valley (CA)

2nd- Four Oaks Farm (CA)

3rd– Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

Judging Ram Lambs

Pair of Ram Lambs;

1st- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

2nd- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

3rd– SonCroft/Jehovah-jireh Sheep and Cattle (CO)

Champion Ram- Tumble Creek Farm (OR), Yearling

Reserve Champion Ram- Ramona Valley (CA), Ram Lamb 

Judge Wes Limesand and Robina Koenig with the champion ram

Yearling Ewe;

1st- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

2nd- Four Oaks Farm (CA)

3rd– Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

4th– Autumn Hills Woolens (WA)

Ewe Lamb;

1st- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

2nd- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

3rd– Four Oaks Farm (CA)

Judging Ewe Lambs

Pairs of Ewe Lambs;

1st- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

2nd- Tumble Creek Farm (OR)

3rd– Autumn Hills Woolens (WA)

Champion Ewe- Tumble Creek Farm (OR), Yearling

Reserve Champion Ewe- Tumble Creek Farm (OR), Ewe Lamb

Champion and Reserve Ewes


Breeders Small Flock;

1st– Tumble Creek Farm (OR- White)

2nd– Tumble Creek Farm (OR- Natural Colored)

3rd– Autumn Hills Woolens (WA)

Breeders Young Flock