In September 2009, I looked into getting a few unrelated Babydoll lambs and slowly starting a flock, which we could eventually breed in 2011. I spoke with almost all the breeders here in Canada, and the best we could do was get one lamb for spring 2010 from across the country, or be put on the 2011 waiting lists of other breeders. I saw this as a little problem.
VERMONT, USA SHEEP ON A CANADIAN FARM
Matt & I then decided it would make more sense to try and find some bred ewes to buy, and start having our very own lambs in spring 2010. If I thought finding lambs was hard, this felt - impossible! I finally had some luck with 4 different breeders in New York, USA. They were each on the Scrapie Program, which would be a requirement for importing female sheep (or female goats) from the USA. I was in regular contact with Scrapie Canada, as we would need to be enrolled in the Scrapie Certification Program before being allowed to import from the States. I needed to be enrolled in the Scrapie program before I could get an Import Permit. I needed a CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) Scrapie Accredited Vet to do my annual Scrapie Inspections, though since one was not anywhere close to us, our local Vet offered to become accredited. I needed a signed letter from him before I could get enrolled in the Scrapie Program. The breeder in the States needed a letter from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) stating that none of his flock had died in the last year (or that the brains of the dead ones had been submitted for Scrapie testing with a no-Scrapie result). I needed this letter for my Import Permit.......
I had established a flock from these 4 breeders in the States, and would buy about 2 bred ewes, and 2 spring ewe lambs from 2009, as well as a ram from Ontario, my namesake "Jamie". (Matt jokingly says he has always wanted a wife and livestock with the same name!). I thought I had everything in order before being told that the breeders were required to be on the USDA National Scrapie Program, not just the State program, which my 4 NY breeders were part of. I was heart broken. I had been in correspondence with these 4 women for weeks and made great strides toward becoming a shepherd - so I thought! I was directed to the USDA Scrapie Flock Certification Program where I found out that only 25 Babydoll breeders in the United States are qualified to export their ewes. None of those 25 were any of the 4 breeders from NY. No wonder so many breeders ran the other way when I asked if they would export their sheep to Canada!
I looked through the list, and chose breeders in a reasonable driving distance from our home. I made calls to New Jersey and Vermont. And in Vermont, I got connected with a most wonderful human being named Michael. And from here, our tireless partnership began... We worked for a couple of months, over many phone calls, emails, and faxes, to finally complete all our paperwork, get passports in order, and set a pick up date of November 25th, 2009, then October 28th, then the 30th, then November 20th, and finally - November 18th, 2009! Oh my goodness, an end was in sight - maybe.
Matt & I traveled about 9 hours to Vermont, USA leaving Tuesday, November 17th and returning Wednesday, November 18th with a short-box FULL of sheep. The truck was full, though the little buggers were scared and nervous, crowding into the front half of the truck box, making it appear as though there was ample room to spare!
Our sweet little flock of Babydoll sheep are just as wonderful as I imagined. They brought home with them some burdocks, deeply planted in their thick, wool coats, though as they are living the high-life in our warm barn this winter (until we get the paddock sectioned off for breeding pairs and ewe lambs not to be bred), they got sheared on November 25th, and now we can start "fresh" with gorgeous, clean coats. Peter, our shearer, even thinks a few of the ewes are already pregnant. I'll take his word for it!
We have lots of great colour in our flock, a beautiful and thick black ram, Sampson, and a solid, well muscled white ram named Jamie. All 11 girls are sweet, gentle, and love giving little kisses. They have come a long way in their first week on our farm! I was traumatized by the 9-hour drive to Vermont, I can only imagine how the sheep felt on that long drive home. I will be updating pictures continually, so keep checking out my albums. I am working on getting them filled with better nutrition, finding the right ration amounts to give them, feeding kelp to improve their coats, and put the sparkle back in their eyes. Now with their Canadian ear tags in, a dramatic hair cut, and a wonderful new life, in a pretty little barn, we have a lot to look forward to, me and our little flock.