SHEEP OF AGRICOLA
We raise Icelandic Sheep on the farm, one of few three-purpose breeds.
After years of research and visits to different sheep farms, we decided that the Icelandic breed is the perfect sheep for our farm, our land, and our personalities. One of the main perks of these sheep is that they are one of the few three-purpose breeds, providing meat, milk, and fiber. But the benefits don’t stop there. Icelandic sheep's meat, free of the mutton taste, is considered a delicacy.
There are other perks that make these sheep ideal for a small sustainable farm. Raised and selected for centuries by the Icelandic shepherds to maximize their ability to thrive on grass, they do not need grain. Indeed, they should not have any substantial amount of grain in their diet. Icelandic sheep will graze in the middle of a snowstorm with several feet of snow on the ground, and they will never overgraze a field. They know just when it's time to mow, and when it's time to stop, keeping the grass at the perfect height to improve the soil quality.
These sheep are known to be great mothers; they consistently give birth to twins without requiring a change in diet or additional grains. The lambs, being twins, are small, so birth is quick and without complications.
An additional bonus is their beautiful wool. They have a long under-coat, which can be skirted to provide soft wool for mittens or hats, while their outer coat is more robust and can be used to make rugs and blankets. Icelandic sheep come in a variety of shades of white, gray, brown, and black. While one could easily dye the wool to make bright and fun colors, the natural colors of the wool provide a gorgeous palette to make the best hats, sweaters, blankets, and more.
January 2020 will be the first time we try working their leather. One of our residents, Gaby, worked as a professional leather worker and she will be transforming the soft leather into wallets, purses, key chains and whatever strikes her fancy. Keep checking ... we will update you with the progress!
All of these benefits of Icelandic sheep come with a stubborn and rebellious personality, which, coupled with their ability to jump fences comparable only to goats, make for a few yearly adventures to herd the flock back home. If you have ever been to a country fair, you have probably noticed the beautiful sheep with spiral horns and the long coat that won't stand still--those are our sheep!