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Posted 8/19/2018 3:41pm by Dominique and The Sheep.


28 August 1943-29 May 2018 

We are mourning the sudden loss of our beloved friend, mentor, and champion of the sheep. Each day without him reminds us of how much we loved and miss him. 

 This Summer has been a challenge like no other but our goal is to continue to carry on Eugene's legacy and care for his sheep. He was proud of them and their superfine Saxon merino wool...and so are we. The sheep are a constant reminder of what a special man he was and still is in our lives.

 Please bear with us as we work towards continuing his dream of selling more yarn and spreading the word about these sheep.

 We are still at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets on Saturdays and the website is still open.



Posted 12/16/2008 6:47pm by Catskill Merino.
Healthy sheep have pink noses.
Tags: Sheep
Posted 11/21/2008 8:07pm by Catskill Merino.
Tags: Sheep
Posted 11/7/2008 9:01am by Catskill Merino.
Ram lamb
Tags: Sheep
Posted 10/21/2008 10:32pm by Catskill Merino.
Breeding began today. We classed the rams and selected four to put in with 160 breeding ewes.  This year we are using a syndicate to mate the ewes: by choosing the breeding rams from the same bloodline (the syndicate), a lamb sired by any one of them will have similar genetics on the sire side.
This year I liked the look of the yearling rams who've descended from Bullamalita BL 76, one of the original Saxon rams imported from Australia in 1991, and I chose his progeny for the syndicate.

 BL 76

I considered physical characteristics: particularly the ram's size, but I wanted smooth bodies (easier to shear); I looked for wide horns rather than horns close to the head, I preferred open faces to wooly ones, and finally I made a subjective consideration (meaning that I let myself be chosen by the ram): I looked at how the ram looked to me, how he carried himself—a ram knows when he's good—he's calm, he's proud and he makes you feel that he's regal, that he'll breed well and carry his genetic heritage forward.
Catskill Merino is a wool flock with one of the finest clips in the United States and we got that way by selecting  breeding rams for their wool.
Now with Dominique holding on to their horns to hold the rams still, I looked at their fleece, parting it with my fingers, looking for a bright white color, looking for fine wool with an AFD of 17-18 μ (1μ [micron] = 1/1,000,000th of a meter) as judged by touch, looking for uniformity in fineness from the shoulder to the rump and from the withers to the belly. 
Only rams with impeccable wool will breed Catskill Merino ewes.
I selected wool traits I didn't see in the merinos that I saw yesterday at Rhinebeck, which were large Delaine merinos, common sheep, not having the wool genetics that have been proudly bred into the Australian Saxon merino for centuries, bred into the rams that I imported and that I've bred into the ewes of my flock over the last 18 years.
Dominique recorded the rams' ear tag numbers then we put the boys with  the girls.  Lambs will begin to arrive 5 months from this day, over 200 lambs will be born in a 36 day period (the time of 2 estrus cycles), the length of time the rams will be with the ewes. 
The ewes look good, they are healthy coming off summer pasture, they will be good mothers.
Posted 10/21/2008 9:59pm by Catskill Merino.

Dominique and I went to the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck; our purposes were to look at yarn colors, buy dyeing books, discuss weaving and look at sheep.

We saw some nice hand painted yarns, we bought a book with good photos that explained the hand painting process, we discussed with Peggy Hart of Bedfellows Blankets weaving my yarn into coverlets early next year, and we looked down upon the big merinos there for their yellow, coarse wool with its AFD (average fiber diameter) of 23 microns—a greasy steel wool.
Tags: Sheep, Wool
Posted 10/17/2008 5:35pm by Catskill Merino.
Tags: Sheep
Posted 9/30/2008 8:31pm by Catskill Merino.

 36 Yearling 2

36 was born on the 1st of July 2007.  The photo below was taken on the 29th of November 2007 when he was 5 months of age.  This photo was taken on the 29th of September 2008 when he was 15 months of age. 

Does he remind you of someone?

Posted 9/26/2008 10:25am by Catskill Merino.
As Rembrandt would have painted him.
Posted 9/11/2008 7:17pm by Catskill Merino.
Ford Mansion
  The Ford Mansion in Morristown, New Jersey
During two critical winters of the Revolutionary War, 1777 and 1779–80, the countryside in and around Morristown, New Jersey, sheltered the main encampments of the American Continental Army and the Ford Mansion served as the headquarters of its commander-in-chief, General George Washington.  
Candy provided the reference above from the National Park Service correcting me, and I thank her. 
While George was sleeping in the Ford Mansion at Morristown, Martha was taking care of his sheep on the plantation in Mount Vernon; the general liked his sheep and reputedly bought a merino ram for $1,500.00, a princely sum then, and not cheap change now. 
Grazing in gentle Virginia, the general's sheep were safe from the Continental Army encamped in the snow around Morristown.  Armies of that day didn't fight during the winter; they huddled around their fires, made do as best they could and awaited better weather to march into battle.  As private Joseph Plumb Martin wrote about life in the hard winter of 1779-80.
"The monster hunger still attended us. Here was the army starved and naked and there their country sitting still and expecting the army to do notable things."
Had there been any sheep nearby the Ford Mansion, one can imagine that private Martin and his fellow soldiers would not have cared who owned them; these good patriots would have chased the sheep down, clipped the wool to stuff in their shoddy boots, roasted mutton quarters over their fires, and maybe washed their repast down with hard cider stolen from a local farmer's cellar, and by the dying embers of their fires raised their cups to the general and his fine sheep.
Tags: Sheep
Posted 7/7/2008 6:20pm by Catskill Merino.
Dominique holding ram
115 lb. Dominique holds a 250 lb. ram upright on his tail bone with her knees. His feet in the air, he can't move, nor can he struggle much.  This effortless holding position, for both sheep & shepherd, frees Dominique's hands to work on his feet, look at his teeth, examine his eyes, etc.  
This 3 year-old ram limped.  Dominique found an adobe-like (weed & dried mud) substance wedged in the cloven (the soft space between the two claws) of his hoof and removed it.  He should walk more easily tomorrow.
Tags: Sheep
Posted 12/11/2007 6:58am by Catskill Merino.

Saturday at market was warm with a high of 43, good weather for selling wool. My cell phone rang about 1 PM; it was Clara back at the farm telling me that ewes from the breeding group were walking out on the frozen pond. When I heard this I saw sheep plunging through the thin ice like children. The horrific thing about frozen pond rescues is that more often than not the rescuer falls in and dies too, or this tragic aspect is what makes it news.

Clara said she shook a feed bucket at the sheep and they came off the pond, but when they realized the ruse, several walked back on the ice again. Clara didn't know what to do. I knew what to do, but I couldn't fence them back from the pond until tomorrow. I wouldn't get back to the farm until after dark.

But what to do now?

Then it hit me, "Break the ice!" around the edge of the pond, I told her, and that should keep the sheep on shore. Use heavy stones, a sledge hammer... She said she would try; I went back to my market customers preoccupied with visions of foundering sheep.

I called Clara back at 3 PM; she said the ice was too thick to break but she was keeping an eye on the sheep and so far they were all well. I thanked her. When night fell, Dominique and I packed up. It had been a good day at market. We got back to the farm about 8 PM detouring around a maddening traffic jam in Jersey.

On the way to the barn we drove past the pond. Dominique gasped, "Look, the ice is broken." My heart sank like a sheep. But when we got closer what we thought to be broken ice was thinner, darker ice near the pond's overflow. The ice on the pond was intact. The ewes were safe. We looked at each other and shook our heads in either belief or disbelief, I'm not sure which.

The day had begun at 3 AM but it wasn't over yet, we had to feed grain to the sheep. We carried pails of oats to the ewes illuminated by the headlights of the truck. When we stepped over the net fence the hungry sheep swarmed around. Their long shadows flashed across the yard disorienting us like a disco strobe.

Sheep being fed are loud and cacophonous; with a pail in hand they will rush you, bang into your knees, knock you off balance then sometimes push you face first into a trough feeder all the while desperately telling you how hungry they are, and butt in the air you will cuss them. It was good to be home.

Posted 11/27/2007 7:13pm by Catskill Merino.
A Ewe & Her Lamb
November 26, 2007
Yesterday, on a cold Winter day, I dyed yarn; greens like these are gone with the Summer pasture but I found similar colors when I over-dyed a heather gray with an osage orange. Stop by the stand this Saturday and see for yourself.
"Gonna take a walk down to Union Square
You never know who you’re gonna find there.”
Run Run Run, The Velvet Underground, 1967.
To find a newborn lamb with a dirty face means that the lamb has found the ewe's teat and all is well.
Tags: Lamb, Sheep
Posted 11/23/2007 11:05am by Catskill Merino.


Young farm animals.
Last year I  put the breeding ram in late and had Summer lambs which are not supposed to do well, but this little ewe looks fine; she is calm & fearless.  2007 was one of the most best lambing years I've ever had. 
Posted 11/23/2007 10:02am by Catskill Merino.
Nile don't like me, as they say around here, I'm just another concrete monkey up from the city and Nile's lived here all his life so he should know. He works for Davy milking cows; I'm there at the dairy to borrow a tractor. "Davy took the tractor up to feed the heifers, he'll be back, " he says standing over a black and white milk cow that's down in the yard. "What's wrong with her, " I ask. "She can't get up," stating the obvious and taking the cow personally, "don't ever happen to sheep, right?" "Now and then," I say, "coyotes got us last week." "How many?" "Three." "They're no damn good." "Yeah, coyotes are trouble," I say. "No, sheep," Nile don't like sheep, no money in'em.

"Tell Davy, I've gone to White Sulphur and I'll be back." I drove along the winding road that I know well; the trees were bare and I could see snow through them. The road curved as I came to the top of a hill; I looked off to the right and saw another road turning away, lazily up and down, over low snow covered hills; ahead, it must fork off the one I'm on. But I don't know this juncture. How could I have missed it in all the years I've gone this way. Where did this new road go, where would it take me if I turned on to it, the unknown thrilled me. The world became fresh again, my stomach tensed, I was young, I was in San Francisco, I was at the Fillmore, Janice was going down on me and Big Brother was playing as loud and as loose as my future. I came round the curve and went down the hill; I saw this road was the same road I was on. I was where I always was, going where I always go.

Friday morning was harsh, it got down to 7 degrees Thanksgiving night; I awoke in a house that was gravely cold. I put on my down coat, scarf and hat like I was going to the barn but I was going to make coffee and rekindle the woodstove. When I did get to the barn, I saw what I didn't want to see, the lamb I'd been nursing back from the coyote attack was down on her side, but still breathing. I gently put her on her feet; she was unsteady, head down, unsure, but standing up. Yesterday she was doing well, today she's dying; I wanted to give somebody the finger, but who. I fed the other sheep and chipped ice off the waterers; when I came back to her, she was down again. I knelt and pushed her eyelid back with my thumb to see a twitching stare; except for suffering, it was over.

I crossed the icy yard to the house and got my Ruger .22; my hands were freezing, I stuck the loaded pistol in the front pocket of my overalls, then crossing my heart, I put my hands in my armpits to warm them. Walking back to the lamb, I felt the heavy steel barrel touching me and jostling the loose change in my pocket. Sex, money and death, we were all here. There is a point between laughter and tears that has no name and has no sound. I didn't cheat it, I said nothing, I took the pistol from my pocket and I shot her.
baa v2 #24
November 27, 2005

Posted 11/23/2007 6:35am by Catskill Merino.


Big Round Bale


November 23, 2007

Now that the pasture has stopped growing, the sheep must be fed until the grass grows again in the Spring. Into what are called hay racks or feeders, with the front end loader of a large tractor, we put big round bales of hay that were harvested here on the farm in July; each bale weighs 750 lbs. and will feed about 40 sheep for a week.

Posted 11/20/2007 7:51pm by Catskill Merino.

Fall Reflection
November 20, 2007
Ewes in the breeding group seen from across the pond on a Fall afternoon.  The ram with these girls was used last year; his matings produced some beautiful lambs and we hope for more of the same this Spring.
Tags: Sheep