The dogs and handlers will be tested by the wiley members of the T & E Farms flock. Dave and Jen Shoemaker have provided some background on their flock:
Our farm is owned by myself and my wife Jen.
We are located in the central western part of PA, in Cambria County. Our operation lies on the eastern edge of the Appalachian Plateau at an elevation of 2100 to 2300 feet. This area is characterized by very distinct seasonal weather patterns from cold, wet springtimes, to hot and dry summers, beautiful autumn days and sometimes very intense winters.
Our farm lies at the headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay. The soil types range from rocky ridges to low, heavy clay bottomland. Most of this area is covered by southern tier Appalachian hardwood forests, with a mixture of oak, maple, black cherry, beech, ash, and eastern hemlock. Early successional species include blackberry, pokeweed, locust, poplar, pin cherry and hawthorne. With forest covering 50 to 75% of the land area, most of our pasture and cropland is 5 – 50 acre parcels.
We acquired our first 150 head of breeding ewes in 1983, they were predominately Dorsets and were intended to be used in an accelerated lambing program and managed as a totally confined flock. From 1986-1988 we were involved with a company that was trying to contract sheep producers to supply lambs from company owned sheep. This lead to an expansion in flock size to around 700 head of Polypay type ewes. During this time, we began to use intensive grazing and Border Collies to reduce costs and labor. I also began doing custom sheep shearing of 3500-7000 head per year.
By 1988, the contracting company quit the sheep business and we purchased 250 head of their ewes that were on our farm. We gradually expanded sheep numbers and acreage for pasture by renting additional ground, (some areas were 3-4 miles from our home farm). At the same time we had gradually changed our flock from a confinement system to a zero confinement, total forage flock that were lambing one time per year on total forage fed operation.
From 1996 until now we have continued to expand and refine our farming operations. Our current ewe flock of 950 head is managed on 600 acres, of which 180 acres of farmland and 145 acres of woodland are owned and 275 acres of cropland and pasture are rented.
The ewes are a commercial crossbreed consisting mainly of North Country Cheviot, Scottish Blackface, and Texel. They are selected for hardiness, mothering and pounds of lamb produced.
We would like to thank the USBCHA finals committee for selecting our farm to supply the sheep for this trial. It is our hope that we have been able to provide a uniform group of strong, healthy ewes and wish the best of luck to all handlers.