Whitefish Bay Farm - Door County, Wisconsin

Door County, WisconsinFARM, SHEEP & WOOL








 

At Whitefish Bay Farm, you will find a quiet and relaxing corner of Door County. Here, we raise white and naturally colored Corriedale sheep using sustainable agricultural practices. Pictures of the farm can be seen at Farm Images, pictures of the sheep can be seen at Sheep Images .

Corriedale sheep are best known for their wool qualities which are wonderful for handspinning making a soft, lofty yarn. We sell our wool directly to handspinners, felters and other fiber artists. If you are interested in buying wool from us, look at our Fleece page. To view our naturally colored yarns or our roving, follow the links at the top of this page.

Our sheep wear covers, we call them jackets, all year. The jackets keep the wool especially clean and also prevent sun bleaching. During the growing season, our sheep graze new sections of pasture each day. As such, morning begins with moving portable electric fencing to create a fresh paddock for them to graze that day. They rotate through approximately 17 acres of permanent pasture. This process is known as rotational grazing or management intensive grazing.

A typical year in the life of our sheep begins in mid October when we select certain ewes and separate them into different groups based on age, color, and genetics. Each group is then placed with one of our rams and the breeding season begins. The rams wear a harness with a crayon on it so that when they mount the ewes they leave a mark. Each day in the morning and again in the evening, we check on each group and record the markings -- then we know that in approximately 150 days the ewe will have her lambs.

The breeding period extends until early November when we bring the sheep into and around the barn for the winter season. By this time, the selected ewes should all be pregnant. The rams return to bachelor quarters until needed again the following fall.

The time from early November until the end of February is a quiet time. The sheep are busy eating, sleeping, and growing their lambs. We are busy spinning and weaving their wool into wonderful items for the art gallery.

At the end of February, our shearer visits the farm and shears all of the sheep. Our shearer was trained in New Zealand and does an excellent job of shearing -- no nicks on the sheep and the fleece in one piece with no small bits in it. We immediately take off any of the wool that is dirty or stained and place the remaining fleece in a bag labeled with the name of the sheep.  (If you are a handspinner or fiber artist, look at our Fleece listing for information about purchasing our wool and being placed on our mailing list.)

Beginning in mid March and extending until early April, the ewes are having their lambs. This time is hectic for us as we try to be present for all births. Our ewes are excellent mothers and usually do not need our help, but there is always the chance that a problem may develop. In late April or early May, depending on the grass growth, the ewes and lambs are placed on pasture.

The sheep spend the rest of the summer eating and sleeping. The lambs grow to market weight. We keep several of "the best" to add to the flock. 
 

If you would like to learn more about the sheep and their Grumpy Shepherd cover shepherds, check out Dick's book Ruminations of a Grumpy Shepherd. The book recounts many of our experiences from over 20 years of raising sheep in Door County, Wisconsin. Along with insights on raising and caring for sheep and producing quality wool, the book introduces many individual members of the flock.



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Whitefish Bay Farm
3831 Clark Lake Road (County WD)
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin 54235
920-743-1560

fleeces@whitefishbayfarm.com


© All Rights Reserved Whitefish Bay Farm - Last Updated 7 April 2012