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Sunday Stills – Things We Take for Granted – Diversity

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Shetland Sheep at Maple Ridge Sheep Farm

 Diverse – Different – Dissimilar….

For today’s Sunday Stills challenge: Things we take for granted, I have chosen diversity.  Whether thinking about food, skin color, cultures, or sheep-diversity surrounds us. Diversity makes life interesting, full, and engaging. 
Jacob Sheep-Black Sheep & Zuchini Farm
I used to think that all sheep were the same. I had never lived with sheep, and hardly ever seen them. To me, they were all white, fluffy animals. When we decided to add sheep to our farm, and began researching them, I realized that I had been wrong all those years in my assumption about sheep. I discovered that they come in all different colors, temperaments and sizes. Some sheep have horns and others have no horns. Some sheep have long soft wool, suitable for knitting garments, others have course wool, best used for making rugs and chore mittens. Much to my amazement, I discovered that some sheep, do not even have wool, but are “hairless”. I also learned that each breed of sheep has its distinct characteristics, tolerances, and dispositions. The task of choosing which breed we would raise, suddenly became daunting. 
Natural Colored Romney Lamb
We began visiting every sheep farm that we could find, seeing the different breeds in person, and talking with their shepherds, helped us learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each breed. As we became more familiar with the diversity within the sheep world, we began to narrow down the qualities that were important to us. On a visit to a Romney sheep farm in Central Vermont, we fell in love with the Romney breed. Their calm dispositions and lovely lustrous long wool appealed to us. In talking with the shepherd, Bill, we learned they made wonderful mothers and were considered a “dual purpose” breed, meaning we could raise them for meat or for their fiber. We also learned that the Romney breed, raised on the marshes in Kent, England, were tolerant to wet weather and pasture conditions. This seemed an important trait to us, as our hillside farm gets extreme weather throughout the winter months.

Romney Ewe at VT Grand View Farm

Not long after visiting Bill’s farm, we found ourselves driving home with three Romney sheep in the back of our truck. I feel fortunate to have been able to learn so much about the diversity within sheep breeds prior to our purchasing our first flock. This taught me much about the history of sheep, and the different qualities of wool. Each and every breed has its own unique value, strength, and characteristic. That, to me, is a valuable lesson to learn, and one we take for granted so frequently. A lesson, not just about sheep, but about our greater world in which we live.