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How we began raising Lincoln Longwools.

 

Growing up on the family farm in the middle of Montana I have had sheep off and on since I was 4 years old but wasn't able to really start a flock until I was 13. I started raising bum lambs given to me by several of the neighbors and one year we bottle fed over 50 lambs whose mothers couldn't raise them for one reason or another. In 2001 I started looking for a better breed of sheep and instantly fell in love with Wensleydales after seeing a picture on Oklahoma State, sheep breeds page. At that time, Wensleydale sheep were just being brought into the US through an upgrading program, mainly through AI on Lincoln ewes since live animal imports were not allowed from the UK. I found someone in MT doing the upgrade program and she explained that Lincolns were similair in several respects and more available. On February 15, 2002 I bought my first 2 bred Lincoln ewes from her. They were Mary Jane and Little Paine. After seeing what good mothers they were we decided to buy 9 more Lincolns as a package deal from her. We begun crossing Lincoln rams on our Targhee/Suffolk crossbred ewes and in April 2007 I identified a unique fleece type among my Lincoln crosses which I named Spinsleydale. In 2015 the Name SPinsleydale was changed to Judith River Longwool to avoid confusion with Wensleydale crosses. The fiber of Judith River Longwools look almost transparent compared to other breeds of sheep. Creating a breed from various crosses, with the main focus being on a unique fleece type has not been easy. Most years we have been lucky if we have 1 or 2 lambs born out of hundreds of Lincoln crosses that have a "Judith River Longwool" type fleece. But despite the rarity of the genetics, and several set backs. By 2014 the Judith River Longwool flock had managed to grow to 9 ewes and 2 rams.

 

In 2011 I purchased 2 twin 80% Wensleydale ewes (172 & 173) and then in 2013 I purchased an additional 6 Wensleydale ewes and a 93% Wensleydale ram with a beautiful fast growing fleece and well defined locks.

In 2015 we had our first Wensleydale/Judith River Longwool cross ram born and continued to improve and diversify our farm, including the addition of several new pages and selling several types of wheat and barley directly from the farm.

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