Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep

Our farm is located in southwest Missouri and is home to a flock of "Olde English Babydoll Southdown Sheep".   For such a long name, they are actually quite small creatures.  In fact they are often called miniature sheep.  They are actually a heritage breed that has been around for a very long time!  A quick search through the Internet will verify there are not many to be found, although some of us are working to change that.  But I am getting ahead of myself...

Black Babydoll Lamb

My adventure as a shepherd began in an unusual way.  We had been searching for an organic solution for grass and weed control in vineyards.  I learned of these miniature sheep and that they had been used in orchards and vineyards successfully, but could not find much that had actually been written about any problems, complications, methods and timing for grazing, etc.  So we decided to take our chances and eventually located a small flock for sale in a nearby state. 

We are presently experimenting with using these little sheep in a small vineyard to learn how effective they are, what damage can be expected, and many other factors in this relationship that we hope will be advantageous to both the sheep and us.  If it works well, we will eventually use them in a larger vineyard.  As we learn more, I will write about the results of this project and any advice we can pass on to others wishing to utilize Babydolls in this way.

Sheep in our vineyard
The vineyard experiment was the practical reason we obtained our flock.  There are several other practical reasons for raising Babydolls, but we soon learned there is something about shepherding them that has nothing to do with practicality, yet is even more satisfying.  My first clue about this was from the previous shepherd of the flock.  She asked on my second day with them, "Have you fallen in love with the Babydolls yet?"  The question seemed strange to me since we also had two other breeds as part of the flock we bought from her, yet she did not mention them.  But in the days that followed, the question seemed less and less strange.  On our farm we have many different animals, and I am accustomed to finding myself becoming attached to, and enjoying certain ones more than others.  But the Babydolls definitely have a special quality about them.  Before you know it, they have woven their way into your heart. 

So, no matter how the organic weed control experiment turns out, these fuzzy little smiling faces are here to stay!

My Little Jill

Next: Why Babydolls?