Farm, Sheep and WoolWe raise white and naturally colored Corriedale sheep
At Whitefish Bay Farm, you will find a quiet and relaxing corner of Door County. Here, we raise white and naturally colored Corriedale sheep using sustainable agricultural practices. Pictures of the farm can be seen at Farm Images, pictures of the sheep can be seen at Sheep Images.
Corriedale sheep are best known for their wool qualities, which are wonderful for handspinning making a soft, lofty yarn. We sell our wool directly to handspinners, felters and other fiber artists. In addition we produce our own yarn which we sell in our Gallery and online. If you are interested in buying wool from us, look at our Fleece page. To view our naturally colored yarns or our roving, follow the links at the top of this page.
Our sheep wear covers, we call them jackets, all year. The jackets keep the wool especially clean and also prevent sun bleaching. During the growing season, the sheep graze new sections of pasture each day. As such, morning begins with moving portable electric fencing to create a fresh paddock for them to graze that day. They rotate through approximately 17 acres of permanent pasture. This process is known as rotational grazing or management intensive grazing.
Our flock was established in 1990. Over the ensuing years our operation has grown in size and evolved in its emphasis. For many years the typical year in the life of our sheep began in mid-October when we selected certain ewes and separated them into different groups based on age, color, and genetics. Each group was then placed with one of our rams and the breeding season began.
The breeding period extended until early November when we brought the sheep into and around the barn for the winter season. By this time, the selected ewes should all have become pregnant. The rams returned to bachelor quarters until needed again the following fall. The time from early November until the end of February is a quiet time. The sheep are busy eating and sleeping. We are busy spinning and weaving their wool into wonderful items for the art gallery.
In approximately 150 days the pregnant ewes would have their lambs. Lambing during mid-March and early April was a hectic time for all of us…sheep and shepherds. In late April or early May, depending on the grass growth, the ewes and lambs were placed on pasture.
As of 2015 we can no longer offer breeding stock for sale. For a number of complex, yet interrelated reasons we made the difficult decision to no longer breed our ewes. We truly miss the excitement and joy with the arrival of new born lambs, but it is time for us to move on. The flock still grazes fresh pasture from May well into November.
We shear our flock at the end of February or early March when our shearer visits the farm. The entire flock is shorn in about two days. Our shearer does an excellent job of shearing — no nicks on the sheep and the fleece is in one piece with no small bits of wool in it. We immediately take off any of the wool that is dirty or stained and place the remaining fleece in a bag labeled with the name of the sheep. (If you are a handspinner or fiber artist, look at our Fleece listing for information about purchasing our wool and being placed on our mailing list.)
If you would like to learn more about the sheep and their shepherds, check out Dick’s book Ruminations of a Grumpy Shepherd. The book recounts many of our experiences from over 20 years of raising sheep in Door County, Wisconsin. Along with insights on raising and caring for sheep and producing quality wool, the book introduces many individual members of the flock.