5th National BFL Show August 16th in Allegan, MI

The BLU- sponsored dinner will be on SATURDAY evening, August 16th. We are arranging for a room, but will order off the menu for simplicity’s sake. The BLU dinner will be held at the London Grill in Kalamazoo (london-grill.com)
The London Grill is not far from the host hotel, Fairfield Inn Kalamazoo West (special rate of $99 per night if we meet minimum of 10 rooms reserved) 269-353-6400; indicate you are reserving with the Bluefaced Leicester Union group.

As far as presentations are concerned, we have an offer of several presentations from a fiber expert, Christine Kurt, who can expertly expound on any number of fiber topics, be it spinning, weaving, dying, felting, lace-making, color combinations, etc. Perhaps we can use this forum to collect ideas as to what people would be interested in. We envision the presentations taking place either after the show on Saturday or before 2 pm on Sunday, As to non-fiber related presentations, suggestions are welcome.

Sheep Show Judge: Dave Smith from Indiana.
There will be separate black and white shows. The shows will be on Saturday morning. The entry forms can be downloaded from the BLU site, bflsheep.com. The deadline is July 1, with late fees added to entries postmarked after the 15th.
We are actively seeking sponsorships for the sponsored awards classes. List of classes is as follows:

Classes for the 2014 National BFL Show – Michigan Fiber Festival
Whites and black will be shown separately, in two different shows.

Individual and pair classes. Each exhibitor is allowed two entries per class (except in pair classes, where one pair equals one entry)
1. Aged ewes (over 2 years old)
2. Pair of aged ewes
3. Yearling ewes
4. Pair of yearling ewes
5. Ewe lambs
6. Pair of ewe lambs
Champion and reserve ewe *
7. Aged rams
8. Yearling rams
9. Ram lambs
10. Pair of ram lambs
Champion and reserve ram*

Group and special classes: each exhibitor allowed one entry per class.

11. Pen of three lambs / young flock (2 ewe lambs, 1 ram lamb)*
12. Get of sire (any three sheep sired by the same ram)*
13. Flock (2 ewe lambs, 2 yearling ewes, 1 ram)*
14. Best head, ram (white only)*
15. Best head, ewe (white only)*
16. Best fleece*
*sponsored award class (winners will receive an award in addition to a ribbon)

2014 BFL National Show update!

Hello, Fellow BFL breeders!

Please take note of the following information about the 2014 BFL National Show to be held at the 2014 Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan.

Dates: August  15-17, 2014 (sheep must be penned by 6pm Friday; Show is on Saturday; release is Sunday, 5pm)

Venue and location: Michigan Fiber Festival, Allegan County Fairgrounds, Allegan, Michigan. Website:http://www.michiganfiberfestival.info/

Host Hotel : Fairfield Inn Kalamazoo West (special rate of $99 per night if we meet minimum of 10 rooms reserved) 269-353-6400; indicate you are reserving with the Bluefaced Leicester Union group

There will be a dinner for all exhibitors and friends on Saturday. More information to follow.

Anyone interested in sponsoring an award for the show should contact Robina Koenig   Home Phone: 541-350-9205  Emailbflsheep@gmail.com

If you are flying in, the closest airport of size is Grand Rapids – Gerald Ford International.  Rental cars available as well.

If you are planning to attend, with or without sheep, please let me know – it will help tremendously with our planning of this event.

More information regarding all aspects of the show will be forthcoming as the date draws nearer; please mark your calendars TODAY, however. We hope to see many of you there!


Questions? Email or call Margaret Van Camp, chair of show committee: 810-655-4191, mavaca@usol.com

2013 Black Sheep Gathering Report


From left to right, Judge Pat Ariaz (CA), Robina Koenig with the ram (Tumble Creek Farm, OR), Joanie Livermore with a ewe (Double J, OR [Wensleydales and English Leicesters], Sherry Carlson with a ewe (Carlson Farm, CA [Wensleydales]). Photo by Kelly Wilder (CA). This young flock took first place in lot and was among the final three young flocks in the show competing for the Black Sheep Cup.

Report from Robina Koenig

Black Sheep Gathering 2013 was judged by Pat Ariaz, CA, and attended by five farms with three others represented. The missing regulars, Jared Lloyd (CO), Judy Colvin (MT), Jeff and Patricia Seldomridge (WA) and Sue Gustafson (CA) were very much missed. This show is the highlight for me to visit with all my ‘sheep’ friends. It was good to see all of you!

The weather was rainy as we set up on Thursday and again as we packed up on Sunday afternoon, but Friday and Saturday were beautiful. The traditional potluck was warm and sunny with great lamb served and good company to visit with. The potluck follows the grand finale with Best Sheep of Show selected from the Champion Ram and Ewe of each lot and presented with the Glen Eidman Memorial Trophy, followed by the Best Young Flock of Show and receiving the Black Sheep Cup donated by the Black Sheep Newsletter. The Bluefaced Leicester was well represented in both.

BLU had a breed display booth set up and shared with folks the joys of BFL ownership and their wonderful fiber. I had coloring pages available that Kris Barndt designed, the BLU Scorecard and Breed Standard brochures were available, plus the locker hooked logo done by Margaret vanCamp was hanging for all to see. Old and new friends from across the country [Patricia Keeley-Seldomridge (WA)] and Canada stopped by (a wonderful surprise to see James and Lori Nibourg and a big ‘Thank You’ for the help showing), plus a gentleman from Yorkshire who had been to my family’s hometown of Richmond and had seen beautiful Blues on the dales.

I am looking forward to BSG next year and don’t forget to put August 2014 on your calendars for the next National Show in Michigan.

BLU Member Nancy Starkey reports from MS&W festival


Photos by permission by Marcus Skeel

Mark Soper and I (and our wonderful sheepdogs) perform the Working Sheepdog Demonstrations at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival each year, and we use yearling Bluefaced Leicester ewes from my flock in the demos.  These young BFLs are probably the classiest “demo sheep” around, and they certainly catch the attention of the festival crowds.  People love the regal look of the BFLs, and their flowing fleeces are a big part of their appeal.


“Bleatings” from Oregon

Submitted by Robina Koenig, Tumble Creek Farm

Another Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is long past and winter is setting in here on the high desert. Fond memories and plans for 2013 shows, projects for Christmas on the knitting needles, the ewes and rams getting friendly, and finishing up the yardwork for winter occupy the main activities now. But getting ready for the last show of my season was busy and fun.

OFFF, as it is known, is set in a charming older fairgrounds with large trees shading the grassy central lawn. Vendors cover this lawn with their tents and awnings of all sizes and shapes, not to mention the colors that flow from under them. This is mainly a vendor show now, it seems to me, but the animals are plentiful. The two sheep shows run simultaneously under cover behind the barn with the goats out front in a smaller enclosed ring. I did not show this year which is a first for me. Instead, I chose to be with my four ram lambs and vendor booth in the barn, a busy place to be. Plenty of Bluefaced Leicester information was available and being the only breeder this year I was occupied answering several questions. Callie arrived Saturday afternoon, not wanting to miss this show.

Sunday afternoon brought two young men from lands far, far away, Jared Lloyd(CO) and Garrett Ramsay(MN). Never enough time to visit but good to see both of them again, twice now in the same year! We spent the last hour of the show talking sheep (really?) and comparing/critiquing my four rams from different bloodlines.

Good weather, good friends, good fun! Hope to see you there next year!

News from Rhinebeck

Comments on Rhinebeck festival from Joan Chapin.

This year, as in years past, my son and his wife, children, and I went to Rhinebeck with my Blue yearling ewes  and Wes/Hil’s Romneys.  We went on Thursday, got there late afternoon, and since the wind was coming into our pens along the side, we decided to send me out to the hardware store for tarps.  Two 10’ x 20’…Wes put them up to cover our 7 pens along the side…Good thing.  By Friday morning it was pouring, big wind was from that side…and sometimes the rain was so hard that it was deafening in that metal roofed barn (upper barn).  They said some of the vendor areas, where they were trying to set up, had to be sump-pumped out, I think they were pointing down toward the fleece barn. Saturday and Sunday were cool and sunny…Good thick crowd on Saturday, not as much on Sunday, thank heavens!  Rhinebeck is truly THE place for fleece sheep and fleece people; the barns are constantly filled with the public looking at and asking about sheep.  Very invigorating.

We were down the row from Cindy and Margaret of Pitchfork Ranch, who brought Romneys and Blues…  There was a mystery Blue down by Anchorage Farm near the wool room, and we found out that it was one bought by a young lady from CT from someone in Maryland. I am always interested in these lone Blues and why a person would have only one!

The white longwool show was Saturday afternoon. This year my ewes were in the (split) yearling classes, and both came in 5th after Romneys and Lincolns.  That is one place higher than last year as lambs.  Obviously I don’t go for the premium money; but glad to be placed at all.  The Natural Colored longwool show was Sunday morning.

I learned several years ago that if I stay around my pens and answer questions, and watch the people dig their fingers into the long soft Bluefaced fleece, I would have the opportunity to show people the differences in Bluefaced compared with, say, Border Leicester fleeces…and show them hand spun, hand dyed, and hand knitted articles, so they can appreciate the luster, drape, and softness of the Bluefaced wool. Against my usual rules, I sold one raw fleece last year to a woman who heckled me for much of Saturday morning, and she has kept in touch on email, reminding me that she wants to buy Lena’s fleece again this year.   I met one woman who turned out to be a medical doctor who specializes in stress issues and who spins!  She was enchanted with the Bluefaced fleece and yarns, and I think she’s hooked on it for her own stress-relieving spinning.  Maybe she’ll start a spinning group for stress relief!  With BFL roving, of course.

So I got out to a few of the old buildings on Sunday afternoon, and saw a few vendors who go to the NH Sheep & Wool Festival in May. I especially noted the absence of Kathy Davidson at her booth. Lewis White was there with his Little Barn tent, and his BFL roving; he said he’d had to cut back on his Bluefaces.  Lisa Westervelt stopped by.  Rhinebeck has grown so much in the last few years that I will never get around to see it all, especially when I have sheep in the pens.

Home at 12:30 AM Monday. Happily exhausted, to find my new Scotty ram lamb poking around the barn, sniffing thru’ the pen panels at the ewes.

MidOhio Fiber Fair

BFL fiber was well represented at the recent MidOhio Fiber Fair, held in Newark, OH.  Breeders Anne Bisdorf and Lisa Rodenfels had adjoining booths at the show.  Anne had raw fleeces and natural rovings; while Lisa’s booth featured natural white and dyed BFL yarn and dyed locks in a rainbow of colors.

Here is Anne’s very attractively displayed booth.








An example of a dyed BFL skein.


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 www.blacksheepgathering.org    See you there in 2013!



Your $$$ at work

As the sheep show and fiber festival season draws to a close with a flurry of fall events, 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 advertising.

Here is a list of the shows and festivals where advertising dollars were spent in 2012.  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 – $150.00

Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival – $60.00

Black Sheep Gathering – $50.00

Shepherd’s Harvest in Minnesota – $25.00

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival – $55.00

Michigan Fiber Festival –   $100.00

In addition,  requests to advertise with the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool festival and the Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival (NJ) have recently been received from our members.

Besides promoting BFLs at shows, there are also ads placed in the major sheep magazines – The Shepherd, Sheep!, and Sheep Canada all have paid listings in the breed section of each magazine, at a total cost of $110.00 per year.   The Banner magazine provides space for notes from breed associations at no cost – a great benefit!

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”)