The Starter Flock
In December 2009 Seana took a big and risky leap of faith and purchased a starter flock without really knowing where or how she'd get a licensed dairy going. The ewes came from Swedish Mission Farm, a sheep dairy in Wisconsin (they have since shut down) and member farm of the Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Cooperative. These ewes were crosses between the East Friesian and Lacaune dairy breeds which are common throughout Europe. East Friesian sheep originated in Germany and are considered to be the highest producing dairy breed by milk volume, while the French Lacaune sheep produce milk with slightly higher milk solids. The famous Roquefort blue cheese from France is made exclusively from the milk of Lacaune sheep.
These first 10 ewes lived happily in Seana's backyard - which happens to be a 6 acre apple orchard - for 5 months where they all had their babies and had Seana as their faithful shepherdista through Spring 2010. By that time Seana had formed a partnership with seasoned sheep ranchers Rex & Kerry Williams who live just a few miles away on a proper farm. After all the babies were born, they packed up the flock and moved them down the road. Work was already underway to fix up part of an old barn on Rex & Kerry's farm which became the milking parlor. The three sheep dairy dreamers formed an LLC, becoming Black Oaks Sheep Dairy, the 5th licensed sheep dairy in the state of California.
While Seana certainly had an unforgettable adventure buying and caring for the starter flock, she decided to focus on honing her cheesemaking skills, and let much more qualified people focus on the dairy! Black Oaks Sheep Dairy is now owned and operated by the very dedicated and talented Rex and Kerry Williams, who continue to be close friends and collaborators, and who continue sell all of their milk exclusively to Bleating Heart.
Meet the starter flock! The first 10 ewes with their names and birth year.... (and Whoopi above)