For years people would say to me "you need sheep"! I would joke that the only sheep I would want are Valais Blacknose Sheep. They are dubbed the cutest sheep in the world and with good reason, but they were only available in Switzerland for the longest time. In the past 6 years, they have been making their way to the UK and New Zealand, so when we found out that they were also starting a breed up program in Canada, we couldn't wait to jump on board!
It was a whirlwind experience as we learned on October 30, 2018 that Valais Blacknose semen was available to be imported into Canada. With a breed up program, you begin with a foundation ewe that has many similar characteristics to the breed you want to create and then each year you breed to a purebred ram in order to get closer and closer to the chosen breed. For us that meant getting Scottish Blackface Ewes...and fast! Breeding season ends in December! So off we went and sourced our Foundation ewes who came home on November 24th. Eve, Maggie, Amelia, Lucy and Shauna would be the perfect girls to begin this big adventure with! And what an adventure it is...we knew nothing about sheep when we set off, so the learning curve as been steep and so much fun! Naturally driving home with our girls, it occurred to us...our coyotes may be just as interested in these ladies as we are. The solution...We need a llama! Before we even arrived home, one of my graduates offered us a beautiful llama named Loretta! We were officially ALL IN!
Of course it wasn't all smooth sailing. When we introduced our infamous guard llama we learned she was terrified of sheep! Thankfully after a few days together she learned they weren't evil little demons out to kill her haha! Now she is their loving protector and they are inseparable!
On December 14th, Dr. Lynn Tait arrived from Calgary with our Valais Blacknose Semen to inseminate our ewes. We inseminated only Eve, Maggie and Lucy as they were proven ewes who had lambed before and large enough to carry the larger Valais cross lamb. Shauna and Amelia will get their turn this year!
In February 2019, we were delighted to learn that Maggie and Eve were pregnant! We had 2 F1 cross lambs on the way. We prayed for a girl to continue our breed up program. Any boys would be neutered so as not to water down the breed with more Scottish Blackface genes. The girls were due in May and we couldn't wait!
On May 6th Eve surprised us with a little girl - Dreamwinds Gabriela! Of course knowing very little about sheep, it was nerve-wracking to say the least, but she was a healthy bouncing baby girl! Just 4 days later Maggie delivered the cutest little boy! Not so great for our breed up program, but he stole our hearts right away. Dreamwinds Gulliver would have a forever home here! Our sheep show grew by 2 hearts and 8 feet and we are delighted with how they are growing!
This fall we will breed all the girls again to continue on our journey to introduce the wonderful Valais Blacknose breed to Canada. We are one of only a very few breeders in the country thus far and focused on breeding the best quality of sheep we can. If you want to follow our adventures be sure to like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/valaisofdreamwinds
There are many more adventures to come as one big dream leads to another here at Dreamwinds.
Do what you love! <3