134,947 vehicles cross the Tappan Zee bridge on a daily basis, on average. I bet only a few of those vehicles contain sheep!
Mom and I woke and departed early Sunday morning. The Honda Element was already prepared with a tarp and some cardboard, to which I added shavings and hay. Our route took us down I91 to the Merritt Parkway and over to 287 in New York and New Jersey to bypass New York City. I78 carried us all the way across New Jersey and much of Pennsylvania to Harrisburg, where we crossed the Susquehanna and turned south toward Gettysburg.
Our welcome at Ruppert’s Corriedales was warm and friendly. Geof was not quite done mowing on the tractor, so we chatted with one of his helpers who was cleaning out horse stalls in a barn that housed both horses and sheep. She had a GIGANTIC Clydesdale mare that she had bred to a fine Clydesdale stallion and had a really adorable little filly. My mom knows horses and found a kindred spirit in the young woman working on creating healthy, beautiful animals.
I, of course, was watching the adorable ram lambs on one side and the ewes on the other. The lambs were very friendly and some came up to me for petting, which is something that only one of my lambs will do and even she doesn’t really want petting as much as she wants to adamantly Baah in my face to express her displeasure at something or other. These Corriedales had much better build than mine – all were consistently square and the rams we looked at had very lovely uniform fleece.
Corriedale fleece is crimpier than I thought. Geof and I talked for a long time about different lambs and their characteristics. We looked at the ewes, and at the rams, and went back to the ram lambs. My mind changed: The Corries I was seeing had long legs and their fleeces weren’t as fine as I imagined some of my half-Cormo lamb fleeces might be. I thought hard about my goals – I really liked how my lambs this year grew fast, seemed healthy, have fine fleeces and are big enough to be economical but small enough to handle. Geof had two Cormo x Corriedale x Merino rams. One he wanted to keep, and the other had undesirable yellow coloration to his wool. Geof generously agreed to sell me the ram lamb he had intended to keep for himself. Allow me, therefore, to introduce Earl Scruggs, aka X31. Earl will be a big part of the foundation of this flock and I couldn’t be happier with the choice I have made.
The rest of the evening was filled with a wonderful dinner, a banjo serenade, and peaceful deep sleep. Early Monday morning, we easily loaded Earl into the Honda and abundantly thanked our kind hosts for inviting us into their home. Off we went to Dillsburg, one hour north, where we met Julie at Wooly Acres. Her small flock yielded a sweet little ewe lamb we’ve re-christened Martha to follow our naming theme. Martha is also a three-way cross between a Cormo, a Merino and a Corriedale and may be somewhat related to Earl Scruggs but not closely. As I am certain that I must part with Janet, Martha will add some new blood and allow me some good options for creating rams in the future. Julie and I talked about goats briefly, but with two sheep in the car it was time to roll on home.
The trip home was quiet and uneventful. Two sheep are calmer and happier than one, so it was a quiet, baah-less ride home with only occasional shuffling. We offered them water each time we stopped and random checks revealed Martha comfortably chewing her cud. When we finally reached home, it was clear that Martha and Earl were bosom friends. Earl panicked when Dad picked Martha up and carried her down the hill. It was no trouble for me to lead Earl on a makeshift leadline to the enclosure where Agnes, Ralphie and Doc Watson waited.
Five lambs have made the small group at my house much more of a project to manage. I have not released the sheep from their enclosure because Martha is not trained to the electric fence and I want to establish “home” very firmly in her mind before I risk letting her out. I’m sure they will be out in a few days, though!