Raising Sheep and How to Make Your Own Comforter Using Sheep's Wool

Raising sheep is a rewarding hobby, especially when sheep's wool can be used to make your own comforter!


| March/April 1985



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Young Maggie Barker takes pride in caring for her sheep, and she also gets a big reward when she uses their wool to create homemade comforters.


PHOTO: RICHARD BARKER

Raising sheep has been the great joy of my life. Who wouldn't enjoy cuddly, cute lambs in the spring and lovable ewes all year round? It all started for me at age 3 when we first moved to the farmstead and Papa got me one ewe (a ewe is a female sheep). Her name was Fluff; my job was to feed her. Now I am 11 and have nine Suffolk ewes and one huge ram (male sheep) to care for.

It's simply wonderful to work and play with sheep and adorable lambs, but I started to get real satisfaction from tending a flock two years ago, when we began to make comforters from the fleeces and sell them to other folks. The comforters are fun to make, we earn $30 to $60 profit on each one, and we've really put our flock "to work"!

Raising Sheep: Basic Sheep Care

I raise a breed of sheep known as Suffolk. I tried some Finns and Merinos for a while, but they weren't any better than the Suffolks, so I sold them. (The Merinos were supposed to have good wool, but it turned out to be awful for making comforters! It's best for spinning.)

Sheep can graze for their food whenever grass is growing. In winter, though, I feed my flock two times a day with horse feed (each ewe gets about ¼  pound per day) and mixed timothy-alfalfa hay. I check their water twice a day, except when the temperature is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I check it three times a day.

I trim the hooves of all my sheep at least twice a year. To keep the parasite population down in my flock, I rotate my animals to different pastures on a regular basis and worm the sheep each spring and fall. Every three years, I cull the old ram and raise up a young one to become the flock's sire for the next three years. I also cull two or three older ewes every year and replace them with good ewe lambs.

My ram runs with the flock, and the lambs are born anytime between January and May. During this time, I check the ewes daily for signs of lambing. Some mornings I am happily surprised to find a ewe with her newborn lamb. I then put the pair in a special lambing stall for three or four days so that the mother can bond with her lamb.





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