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.
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!
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.
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”)
The BLU National Show Committee is now taking proposals for the 2014 National Bluefaced Leicester Show venue. The deadline to make proposals is JANUARY 1, 2013. Here is the new proposal form. If you are interested, please fill it out and submit to Robina Koenig.
You will also find the proposal form under ABOUT BLU on the main navigational menu on our website. Click on NATIONAL SHOW INFO to find the PDF.
Please contact National Show Committee Chair Robina Koenig if you have any questions. You may use the Contact Form on the website; select Robina in the drop-down menu.
The champion fiber art, a sweater knitted by Christina Kurk