I received many photos of Blackbellies in Barbados, but the most enriching part of these men contacting me was the exchange of information about the sheep, recipes for cooking the meat, and the camaraderie and friendship from the two of them. I'll never forget them.
What a learning experience.
Two ram lambs and two ewe lambs and their new mountain home in San Juan.
In the twenty years we have been raising Barbados Blackbelly sheep, we have had many adventures, and we've met many wonderful people, but the following are just a few of the more interesting ones.
This, by the way, is what a Barbados Blackbelly's tail should look like. No white and as long as the hocks. This ram belongs to Wesley Bradshaw.
Grateful for the connections to Barbados.
Being contacted by a breeder from the Island of Barbados was our first exciting adventure. I had posted the two photos above of Lone Star Einstein on our website. On all of our breeding rams, I was advertising that our rams do not have scurs or horn buds, waddles, or white on their tails.
I was elated to hear from Wesley Bradshaw in Barbados telling me that he thought our website was interesting. We emailed back and forth for quite a few times before I had the nerve to ask him what he thought was interesting about it. He then told me he thought it was interesting that I advertise there is no white on our rams tails and then use a picture of one that clearly has a white tail. Needless to say, I was taken back a bit. At first I didn't realize what he was talking about, then it dawned on me that he meant the cream colored tails on many of our rams. They really are not white, as you will see in the following pictures, but I can certainly see why someone from Barbados would think so after seeing pictures of their sheep on the island.
This is one of the rams in competition at the annual Agrofest in Barbados. I believe this was the 2012 Festival.
Lone Star Farm | Barbados Blackbelly Sheep
On the left, is a picture of Einstein when he was younger. He obviously does not have a white tipped tail, it just turned a cream color as he aged. When a lamb is born with a white tipped tail, there is no mistaking it, as seen in the picture on the right, of a lamb who has it.
That was one of the first conversations Wesley and I engaged in being perfectly honest about what we had and what we were striving for in our breeding programs. I promised him we would work on those tails. More emails were forthcoming and I am truly grateful for the honesty and integrity of this man as a breeder. He gave me a wealth of information that I have not forgotten through the years.
Wesley told Haroon Kara about our website and Roon, as I call him, got in touch with me also and sent many pictures of Blackbellies in Barbados. The following are a couple of the pictures from Wesley and Roon.
The next big adventure was receiving a phone call from Senor Hector Mejia of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He happened to be in Wichita Falls, TX and wanted to come to our farm the following day to see our sheep. He came and he liked what he saw and asked if we could ship some to Puerto Rico. Certainly, how hard could that be? I would soon find out. The first major hurdle was contacting the Department of Agriculture in Puerto Rico. I don't speak Spanish. Fortunately, someone there could speak English, but it was so broken and the phone connection kept breaking up which made it almost impossible to communicate. Finally we decided to talk via email. Much better. Problem solved.
Hurdle number two was getting RFID tags to insert into the lambs ears. They are tags like microchips put into dogs that can be scanned with a reader as they go through customs. That took several weeks, but eventually came to pass. Next was getting the requirements for shipping the animals via air. They are rather rigid, but we got that done also.
We got all the necessary tests done on the sheep and had a health certificate in hand. We got up at 3:00 a.m. so we could feed the animals before they boarded their early morning flight only to get to the airport and find out that the outside temperature was 43 degrees and the animals would not be able to board unless it was 45 degrees. We begged, we pleaded, I cried, all to no avail. They weren't going anywhere unless we had a letter of acclimation from the veterinarian saying that they could withstand 43 degree temperatures on the flight. We called and left an urgent message on our vet's phone hoping someone would get there in time to fax the letter to the airlines before the plane left. They did fax the information, but not in time for the sheep to board the plane. Sadly, I contacted everyone involved in Puerto Rico, including the inspection officer who was staying late to inspect the animals once they arrived. We shipped the next day.
Below is a picture of the lambs that were shipped to Puerto Rico along with a couple of pictures of their new mountain home there. I don't know if you can see the grapefruit- sized avacados in the photo or not, but that is what the net is for on the long pole........ collecting them.
THE LITTLE ROCK ZOO
The Heritage Farm in the Little Rock, Arkansas Zoo
Our most recent adventure was in 2016 with the Little Rock Zoo. They have started a farm that represents heritage breeds of livestock. The Barbados Blackbelly sheep is on the endangered species list of The Livestock Conservancy, so the zoo wanted several of that breed on their farm. We sent them three wethers (neutered males) for their exhibit. Below they are pictured with an American Blackbelly that is kept in the same exhibit. Also included is a picture of a cute little boy petting one of the lambs.
2015 Was the Chinese year of the sheep.
I must say the most unusual surprise was being contacted by a high-end fashion magazine that targets the Asian elite of Houston, Texas. They wanted to come to our farm for a photo shoot using our sheep as a backdrop for the fashion shoot they were planning for the next issue of the magazine. I thought it would be fun, but had no idea they would be bringing an entourage of people with them to do it. We had a photographer, a stylist, two hairdressers, two models, the editor of the magazine and I'm sure I've left someone out. They each arrived in a very expensive automobile that outdid the one that arrived just before them.
It was a rainy sort of day, so they set up shop in our barn for the models to change clothes and we are talking some clothes here. Furs, including fur covered five-inch stilettos, boots, dresses, etc. filled our tack room on three clothing racks. The prime shot of the day was one of the models dressed in an original Oscar De La Renta gown priced at $8,000.00, standing on a tree stump in our pasture. See below.