In August 2016, the 6th Annual Gathering of British Soay Sheep Breeders took place at the farm of Shelley Bouyea in West Chazy NY, right in the upper orner of NY bordering Quebec, Candada and Vermont. In fact, Shelley's farm is close to the actual border crossing where the original British Soay came into the US from Canada.
Upstate New York was a wonderful setting for the gathering. Discussions about sheep and gardening were had over meals and around campfires.
We even had time for a Ghost tour !
The 5th Annual British Soay Sheep Gathering will take place on Sept 25-27th, hosted by Daryl & Becky Riersgard at LaFour Ranch in Paradise Valley, Nevada. This is an opportunity for Soay breeders to exchange ideas, socialize and pay a special tribute to Kathie Miller. RSVP 775-578-0096
Summer School at Silverwood
Summer School is a great time for youth to learn about Soay Sheep. Kathy Comeau presented information to students at the Silverwood County Park summer school program. Students learned about the history of British Soay and had a chance for some 'hands on' learning. Students 'rooed' a ewe, spun the fiber and got to hold a young lamb.
Fund Raising Event
Brave HEART Program is a non=profit organization that helps MIlitary families. An upcoming fundraising event features 'Callie' (a special Soay ewe bred by Virginia, in SC). As part of this program, children will be introduced to the breed and taught basic sheep care. For more information about this fundraising event and the Brave HEART Program, go to www.BraveHeartRiding.org.
May 2 & 3 Maryland Sheep and Wool Show
This will be the 12th year that Laura Unsworth takes British Soay Sheep to this event. This year Laura will dedicate her booth in memory of Kathie Miller. Laura has memories of the year that Kathie attended the Maryland festival and helped with the booth. They won the rare breed booth category and best booth that year. Many of the photos and graphics that were used were created and mounted by Kathie.
April 22 Annual 4H Earth Day Sheep Clinic with Shelley Bouyea at Gleann Dair Farm: The 4h's learned about breed conservation, the history of Soay and the flock management differences when dealing with heirloom/rare breeds. The youth loved the clinic and were fascinated by the Soay.
Events where you can see British Soay Sheep
British Soay Breeders Fourth Annual Gathering
Sunday, September 29, 2013
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Southern Oregon Soay Sheep Farms
for information and RSVP e-mail Kathie Miller
Update on 2013 Events
September 6-8, 2013, Jefferson Fair Park, Jefferson, WI 53549
This was Alan & Kathy Comeau's third time exhibiting Soay in the Hall of Breeds at this festival. This year the Soay were the highlight of a Hall of Breeds tour with a great deal of interest in the breed. In addition, Deb Robson, author of the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook stopped by to talk with the Comeau's about their sheep.
August 1- 11, 2013, Wisconsin State Fair Park,West Allis, WI
Alan & Kathy Comeau's Soay sheep were the star attaction at this year's WI State Fair, drawing over 2000 people to the sheep barn over the course of three days. In addition to providing information on the history of Soay, Kathy gave carding and drop spindle demonstrations.
Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival
May 4 and 5, 2013 Howard County Fairgrounds, West Friendship, MD
Laura Unsworth's booth won Over-all Champion again at the MSWF this year!! In addition, Laura won the Minor Breeds categories. Winning both categories came as a big surprise to Laura who remarked that it is 'so nice to be acknowledged!'
The 2012 British Soay Sheep Gathering on September 15th 2012 was held at the farm of Nancy Gaedke in Cross Plains, WI. British Soay Breeders attended to learn about sheep management, Soay Sheep conservation, trade stock and network with like minded Soay enthusiasts. The day was enjoyed by all. In addition to campfire discussions, the group enjoyed a wonderful meal prepared by Nancy that included roasted Guinea Hog.
Shelley Bouyea gets an animal welfare Award !
Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival
Annually the first full week-end in May
Howard County Fairgrounds
2210 Fairground Road
West Friendship, MD
Laura Unsworth has shown at this event for the last seven years.
This is a rare opportunity to see British Soay Sheep in public.
Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival was held on September 9-11 at Jefferson County Fair Park in Jefferson Wisconsin. Kathy Comeau exhibited several of her British Soay sheep in the Hall of Breeds. There were over 30 breeds of sheep there. The British Soay were a huge hit! Many people stopped by to see them, feel the wool samples and take literature on British Soay Sheep conservation. Ariel and her daughter, Bella, were good examples of the dark and light colors in the wool.
2011 Gathering, Colorado
September 24, 20112011 GATHERING, COLORADO
On 24th September, the 2011 British Sheep Gathering was held in Peyton, Colorado at Heather McLaren’s farm, Rocky Mountain Soay, south of Denver. The event was attended by people from Colorado, Oklahoma, Nevada, Oregon, California, Illinois, Wisconsin and a special guest from Wales in the UK, Christine Williams. Over the last thirty years Christine has studied Soay lines from St. Kilda and saw to it their ancestries were documented in the Closed Flock Book of the Rare Breeds Trust, UK.
It was a wonderful treat to have Christine Williams and Kathie Miller, both experts on British Soay sheep in the same room!
Some of the attendees arrived early and were treated to a special visit from Deb Robson, the former Editor of Spin Off magazine. Deb had heard that Christine Williams was going to be in Colorado. Christine is one of the few people in the world that know the history of the Boreray sheep, a UK breed that Deb is researching. After a discussion of the history of the Boreray in the UK, Deb treated the group to a lesson in washing the Soay fiber. Deb is a fiber enthusiast who travels nationally giving presentations and workshops on fiber. She said her ‘mission’ is to promote the use of a variety of fibers and connect sheep breeders with spinners. Deb said there is a lot that can be done with Soay wool and none of the fiber should be wasted. Deb’s recently published a book entitled, The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, contains information on more than 200 fiber animals, including Soay sheep.
On the day of the Gathering, Christine discussed the role of the Rare Breeds Trust registration and gave an online demonstration of how the Grassroots database can be used to look up pedigrees for breeding strategies. Christine and Kathie Miller both shared their expertise in developing long range breeding plans. Christine also shared hands-on shearing and castrating demonstrations.
Val Dambacher who jointly brought in the original Soay from Canada with Kathie Miller, also came to the Gathering and shared her experiences with the group. It was wonderful to hear the stories 1st hand from those who were involved in bringing British Soay sheep into the USA.
Mid-afternoon, we had another surprise guest. Roy and Barb Stewart from high in the mountains above Golden Colorado drove 2 hours from their restaurant to attend the event for the afternoon. We had a wonderful time sharing stories of our experiences with British Soay. In addition, Daryl Riesgard shared his expertise on LGD’s as he is breeding Kangal dogs.
This year’s hostess, Heather McLaren, did a wonderful job of keeping everyone fed and comfortable. Heather’s son, Ralph, prepared a wonderful lunch and evening meal that was enjoyed by all.
The event began last year as a way for British Soay breeders to share ideas, connect with each other and trade lambs. This year’s event was a tremendous success. Lambs were traded and sold, increasing the diversity of the flocks in Nevada, Colorado, Oklahoma, Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition, Shaul’s Manufacturing provided a discount on shipping for items delivered to the Gathering. So in addition to trading lambs, some people went home with new sheep panels and feeders.
A Good Gathering! A Good Time! Good Friendships made! Instead of being individual breeders we are working towards a solid network of cooperation between breeders. A true Circle of British Soay Conservationists.
We are already making plans for next year's Gathering at Nancy Gaedke's farm in Cross Plains, Wisconsin. Hope to see you there!
Field Trip to the Farm
Presently, there are about 375 registered British Soay ewes living in North America,not enough to secure the future of the breed here yet. Finding new shepherds who are committed to their conservation and the expansion of their numbers is critical and has always been the biggest challenge of this project. In Shelley Bouyea's veterinary science classes students receive hands on experience with Soay, with the hope it will spark their interest, that will sustain this project in the future. read more...
4H Club comes to Narnia Farm
On May 7th, a group of 4H youth and parents came to see our sheep and learn about the history of Soay. Parents and youth participated in rooing sheep and making felted bars of soap. read more...
An ancient blessing for an ancient breed of sheep
Although most people often associate St Francis of Assisi with the Blessing of the Animals—the practice of blessing animals has been around much longer. Evidence suggests that blessing animals was carried out in Rome and may date back further than that. One of Kathy Comeau's lambs participated in a blessing of the animals ceremony in Monroe, Wisconsin. read more...