Michigan Pickup

Oct. 29 2015
From the Farm

The other morning, at Ann Arbor, four grey-haired folks lifted 511, 512, and 513, Border Leicester ewe lambs, into a crate in the back of a pickup truck.


Two were Bill and Linda Koeppel, outstanding breeders of Border Leicesters for so many years that one could cover a kitchen wall with the ribbons and awards they have won. The focus of their flock has been wool: not only have they won prizes for the best sheep—against all other breeds—but also for sheep with the best wool on foot and for best fleece, not on foot. We have three ewes from them from two years ago and they match our goals so well that three more seem most appropriate.


Elizabeth and I were the other two lamb lifters. Eight hundred fifty miles from home.

In the Koeppel flock, sheep are named. I’d refer to them as “sire” and “dam” but that feels so impersonal: the father of all three is Raphael, the mother of the black twins is Jessica, and the mother of the silver single is Bella. It seems that we get to name our three ourselves, but for now they are called by color, as you see. So with Michigan hay and straw in the back, we set off for Kansas.


And twenty six hours later, we are backed up to the shed they will live in until they have completed a quarantine to Doctor Schroeder’s satisfaction: no nose to nose contact, which means that they have to survive on alfalfa and oats without grazing. And without getting acquainted with their new flock and their cousins of two years standing. They like alfalfa and an aromatic handful is the lure that persuades the first to jump out of the truck. The second and third follow, of course. Need we worry about them finding their footing? Not a bit. They’re glad to be home.


Everyone else is in good order, the other 97 sheep, the 12 geese, the three dogs, and the cats, all thanks to Michelle, our flock minder, and to her daughter Alexis, kitten minder

Copyright Jerry Wigglesworth, 2015