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Monday, March 26, 2018

Beginning to Grand

As our family has made friends showing sheep, it is interesting to me to watch the interactions between the breeders of the animals and the exhibitors. Hewlett Farms is a local sheep farm.  They have helped us more than we ever could have imagined with sheep we have bought from them and with sheep we have bought from other breeders Ed and Connie (aka the Night Watchman) have been an incredible wealth of knowledge for the boys and the whole family. I asked Ed for a story about their farm and he shared how their youngest son got started in the sheep business himself.  You can find them on Facebook at Hewlett Farms Sheep.

 At the Black and White sheep show and sale 2005 in Oklahoma City. The beginning happened, the idea, thought,and or an inclination at least to be or do something different. Not by me, or the night watchman but rather 11 year old son Curtis. He, while checking out the stock, and wandering through the aisles of lambs, proposed the question. Mom why don't we buy a Dorset Ewe? 

When she presented the same question to me, I still remember the pride of owning my first 4-H project and in no way was I going to deny him of the same. So, the ground rules were laid and he was off to select the ewes he liked. The only real rule was that he had to pay for it with his own savings.

When his first choice hit the auction block and blew by his limit and so did number two, he came to me head down and discouraged. So doing what any good father would, we set out together to find another and as luck would have it choice three was the winner. After the show, enroute home, the night watchman proceeds to tell me her only experience with Dorset sheep is they had one as kids and she never lambed. Oh no! I thought Curtis has just bought one and now she is not going to breed, and that just wont do, so that was the beginng of phase two: Get more Dorset ewes. 

A call to Mr Ross owner of Curtis's new ewe and a road trip later his flock was now two . Feeling good about the project a few months later at the Midwest Stud Ram sale in Sedalia, Missouri, we ask Curtis about the idea of buying a ram and a couple more ewes. We thought he could be starting his own registered flock and not cross breeding them. He thought about it for a short time and then was off to select his new stud Ram and much like earlier at auction time his ram selection went out of sight he thought. He said, "Now what? I don't like any others!" 

By this time the night watchman was in the game and she had a young March ram in mind. With quick discussion and convincing he was to be the one and by the end of the auction Curtis had added a stud ram later named Polar Express and two more ewe lambs. He was set, and phase three was put in place. The plan was nothing short of Genius. Breed the four ewes and take those lambs back to Midwest ram sale the very next year. 

The year seem to fly by and Polar Express, though small, finally got the job done and lambing time was smooth. Praise the Lord! Curtis now had 5 lambs, 3 ewes and 2 rams. He decided that he would take Polar and 2 ram lambs to Sedalia and while there buy a new stud ram. It seems so simple.

During the show luck was with Curtis, and when judge Clay Elliott made the final selections. Curtis's little flock had the Res Grand Dorest ram, a second to him in class and the first place yearling with Polar Express. The phone call back to the Night Watchman was exciting and she couldn't believe it. All that was left to do was buy the new stud ram and wouldn't you know the only one he selected, was the one he couldn't beat. That's right the Grand ram bred by Slack was the one his sights were on. 

With great anticipation we could hardly wait for the auction. It was a tough fight and more than he wanted to invest but the gavel fall proved Curtis meant business. The only fitting name for the new stud was simply Grand. In all endeavors, there is always risk, and with that Curtis had put it all on the line. We encouraged him to buy more ewes to spread the risk, which he did adding three more. The plan had worked so why change it and year two was to be much the same. Save back a few ewe lambs and sell the ram lambs. 

To save you all the drama year two was incredible. Grand's first lamb to be offered won the Black and White Dorest ewe show and sold well. Then on to Sedalia, Curtis was loaded for bear. He took three each rams and ewes all lambs. With the judge favoring our style, the lambs were unbeatable. Curtis carried both the Grand ram and Grand ewe ribbons out of the ring. The sale went just as well and Curtis's second year endeavor was in the black with room to spare. From just a simple idea 24 months before to a winning, profitable, program all thanks to breeders offering good animals and a great ram called GRAND. 

Ed Hewlett 
Hewlett Farms Sheep

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