I am a knitter. Since 2007, I have fallen more and more deeply in love with all things wool. Wool long johns. Wool socks. Wool hats. I ditched my polyester fleece jacket a few winters ago and swapped it for a wool one, and I’ve never looked back. I firmly believe wool is the answer to most questions. Cold? Put on some wool. Sweaty feet? Switch to wool socks. Coffee mug burning your hand? Add a wool cozie made from an old sweater. When the kids were wearing cloth diapers, they wore WOOL diaper covers, day and night. Warm in winter, cool in summer, waterproof, stink-proof, self-cleansing. I’m telling you – wool is awesome. So it seems only natural that SHEEP would be part of our farmstead life.
When choosing the animals for our farm, I started on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy website. They list the various breeds that are in danger of extinction and put them into three groups: Critical, Threatened, and Watch. On the critical list, described as “valuable to handspinners and other fiber artists,” is the Romeldale/CVM.
Romeldale sheep are white, but the classic color pattern of the CVM is the badger-face, a light body with a dark belly and dark head. This pattern creates a range of shades of color on a single fleece. Selection has increased the range of colors to include gray, black, brown, and moorit. Fleececolors darken during maturation rather than fading as the sheep ages.
CVM and Romeldale sheep may be considered two parts of a single breed. With the exception of color, CVMs and Romeldales have similar characteristics. The sheep weigh 150–275 pounds. The rams are active breeders, while the ewes are excellent mothers, prolific and long-lived. Twinning and ease of lambing are considered impor-tant breed attributes.
The CVM and Romeldale sheep have never been numerous, and today they are quite rare. The breed’s fleece quality and performance characteristics, however, make them useful for many production systems…
Once we get a hang for sheep raising, I plan to sell a few “Sheep Shares” to friends that want the woolly goodness sheep can provide, but can’t actually have an animal of their own. We’ll shear and spin the fleece, and maybe sell some lambs as feeders until we’re ready to butcher them ourselves. What could go wrong?