In the process of re-assembling my website, I have come to review my philosophy and ultimate goals of Cunnington Farms.
It has taken me many years, and an enormous number of mistakes, before I have settled on the sheep I want to raise, and am able to raise. At the present, I have no access to enough pasture to graze my animals on, so I need to purchase all the hay and other feed that my animals require. This encourages a hard scrutiny of each breed, to make sure that it meets my criteria (good mothers, easy lambing, easy keepers etc) for a good fit at Cunnington Farms. My age means that I can’t handle any extra large sheep, my inclination means that I really don’t want sheep that take a lot of grain and other supplements, and the fact that I continue to hold a job in town means that my sheep have to have a good enough temperament that I don’t suffer injuries when handling them.
Also, I need to keep my flock numbers such that I am always able, both physically and financially, to be the very best shepherd to my sheep that I know how to be.
I discovered, while I was serving as a County Commissioner in this county, that in politics (but also in life), it is suicidal to try to conceal any sort of damaging secrets about your life or your job performance. Somehow, your darkest secrets manage to be revealed, to your embarrassment and horror. So it is much better not to HAVE any dark secrets. With this in mind, I strive to always be completely honest about my stock, my fleece products and my way of doing business. Not because it is always the most comfortable way to interact, but because it is so much easier than having to make amends sometime later. So often my “sales” of sheep really are “consultations” about sheep, and while I am a businesswoman, and naturally want to make a sale, I do not want to make that sale at the cost of placing the wrong animal with the wrong buyer. That is not happy for either the buyer, OR the animal sold. And thus my insistence on education of potential buyers. And why I encourage buyers to come and stay on the farm for as long as they need to, so that their ultimate choices will not ever be regretted.
Navajo-Churros are my original choice of sheep, and they compose the largest number of any breed at the farm. I have a variety of Churros, all correct to the breed standard, but exhibiting body type, color, and fleece differences. I show my Churros in competitions (Fairs, sheep events, Fiber Festivals) and a number of my sale Churros are excellent for showing. All of my other breeds of sheep are correct to breed standard, or, in the case of crossbreeds, they have a distinctive fleece quality. However, I do not breed for show quality. My sheep are not the biggest of the breed, nor are they grain fed to make weight. They are correct enough to show, but my emphasis is not to produce large sheep that win Championships. It is a fine line between raising “correct” sheep and show sheep, with a different farm emphasis; that distinction is one that I help my buyers understand. What I believe Cunnington Farms offers to buyers is an opportunity to see many breeds together, and to discover by their own experience, what sheep will work on their outfit.