Friends of the Sheep!

Over the years we've made many many friends. My friend Mary has a beautiful farm not far from ours. She and her family raise a neat variety of fiber animals that are well loved. Happily bouncing around on big grassy pastures! 

They raise Angora Rabbits with fiber that is incredible. The fiber is usually 3 inches long and she spends lots of time combing them. If you haven't tried any of their Angora fiber, you can find it here. 

French Angora bunny

French Angora bunny

She also has gorgeous sheep and they are a variety of breeds. Including Shetland, Cotswold, Baby Doll Southdown and some mix breeds. I'll write more about each bunch later on but here are a few photos! 


Keep an eye out for the cool stories that come with her sheep, goats, bunnies and llamas. They are a hoot! 

Smooches from the sheep everyone! 

Memories Monday! It's Baker!

Our adorable flock started out with a bunch of Border Leicester sheep. They are such elegant, stoic and just wonderful to be around sheep. Baker arrived as one of our bottle lambs long ago. He had the most adorable 'rabbit' ears! 


He and his brother Treasure romped around the house for a few weeks, then it was warm enough for them to go out and be 'big sheep'. I'm always sad to send them out but I hear that means I am doing a good job, raising good sheep? I still cry every time though! (Sissy Farmer that I am)

Baker was a Border Leicester sheep with long, curly, soft locks. I spun my first skeins of my lash yarn with his wool.  read more about Border Leicester sheep.

Young Baker in partial fleece!

Young Baker in partial fleece!

Before our Wisconsin weather became so unpredictable, we sheared our Border Leicesters twice a year. Every six months they gave us shiny curls that were 4 to 5 inches long. Once the weather went off kilter we sheared them once a year. Wowser the locks were long!! 

Baker was a sweet sheep who loved his Fruit Loops (very much) and his friend Brady. 

Taking a snooze! 

Taking a snooze! 

What ARE you looking at?!

What ARE you looking at?!

Keep an eye out, Memory Mondays are fun since we've had so many wonderful sheep over the years. I remember every one of them and miss them all. However, it is fun to write about them and share their stories! 

Happy almost Spring! (Shearing day will be around the weekend of April 21- woohoo!)

Happy Holidays to all!

Another year has flown by? Wow. The sheep had a giant Christmas Eve party. It left a giant mess for their cute selves to clean up too. I often wonder why we don't get invitations? I did find a few lampshades in the barn. That is not a great sign right? Ha! 

Our Gilbert- a rare California Red sheep! 

Our Gilbert- a rare California Red sheep! 

Many of our sheep arrived in groups so it's been a tough couple years as our friends have gotten old and headed to the great pasture in the sky. We now have 42 sheep, maybe 1/2 are over the age of 8? (I try not to keep track!) 

However, we've also welcomed a few new sheep to our flock! Gilbert (above) is a rare California Red sheep! I really have not seen many in WI. You can read more about the breed here..

Our Romedale/CVM girls! 

Our Romedale/CVM girls! 

A family in Michigan contacted us last Spring to see if we had room for a few of their sheep. The ewes needed to retire and it was a very tough decision for them. Of course we said yes- twist our arms right? Ha! 

The girls are also a rare sheep- a breed I've never seen before they arrived last fall. They are beauteous! Soft fleeces, a variety of colors and they are very sweet sheep. You can read more about the breed here...

After January 1, I will of course start fussing about shearing day. I am very predictable! I'm always amazed how quickly that sneaks up on us despite our best efforts to be prepared. Kind of that way with winter around here too. 

A big thank you so much to all who donated items, bid on auctions and made donations for Zippy's surgery. I am truly overwhelmed and humbled by all the kindness this kitten has been shown. She is a very happy kitten, growing and sassy! Thank you! 


All of us here wish you the best new year! If you are out celebrating, stay warm and drive safe ok? We have a long due newsletter in the works- keep an eye out! 

Jim, Sandy & the sheep
...where sheep may safely graze.




Life is amazing!

Hi All! You may already know we have an ongoing fundraiser right now. I was very reluctant to ask for help. I am not good at that. I would rather help someone else. Anonymously is even better! 

And so are all of you! This year a small kitten got her paw caught in something. It smooshed her bones and she had to have her front leg amputated. Her bill was $685 for the surgery. Ouch. There was no second thought about whether to do the surgery. She was only 8 weeks old and animals adapt fine to missing a limb! 


Vet bills are always high for us but Zippy's surgery put us over the top. (At least for me) Thus the auctions.


I am overwhelmed at your response to our Zippy's medical bills. And the fact that you've requested the auctions continue humbles me. The new auction item winning bids will go into Zippy's saving account. She needs to be spayed and have her vaccinations when she's old enough. The sheep always have a vet bill so if you all choose to continue with our auctions, you will provide the sheep a little help too! 

Thank you for being members of our 'flock' and for your year round support. There just are not words. You are all so good for my soul. 

Zippy loves you all and sends smooches! 

Zippy loves you all and sends smooches! 



Change is wonderful...

right? I am NOT good with change. Maybe that is why the sheep and I get along so well? They hate change too… (But definitely adapt quicker than I do!) 

Thanks to our friends Ashley  and Dayna  , we are launching our new website! The sheep are having fun doing some writing and adding new photos. We are also working hard to make sure the site is full of fun things to shop, updated sheep biographies and much more. We are so excited about your visit!! Ashley did the hard work setting it up (and both gals did the awful task of putting up with ME). I've FINALLY gotten the hang of a new program. Giddyup!

We’ve been lucky to have the same web host, Beyond the Sidewalks , for our entire business career. Thank you for so many good years Sandy V.  We will miss you but wish you well in your new adventures!

Here is a change that has been fun to try out! We recently got the chance to try out a new wool wash called Power Scour!

The photo above shows Moon Pie’s Wensleydale locks. Left: unwashed, right, washed and sparkly clean!

I really like how easily it washes a fleece, but with a very little bit of the product (PS). I also found I needed fewer rinses to get the fleece clean. The other bonus, for me, is the PS is amazing to use when washing Camelid fiber.

My llamas and alpaca are such naughties! They do everything they can to stay dusty and beyond dusty. I used lukewarm water and a little bit of PS and wowser! It cleaned the fiber right up. I only had to soak the fiber once in clear water, 1 soak in the PS and another clear water soak (maybe 2) and wa-la- clean, not dusty fiber! Ready to pop into a dye pot or dry/spin. Saves SO much time! And water since the fiber needs less rinsing. Tried it out on Suri & Huacaya alpaca and llama fiber. Awesome results each time.

SO, if you are up for a change in your wool washing supplies, I do recommend Power Scour!

If you don't see the wool or yarn you are looking for on the site, please email the sheep ok? We are stocked with beauteous wool & handspun year round- we'll get you set to go! 

Hope all is well with you all and that you are enjoying some good weather-

Sandy & Jim Ryan
(& our happy sheeps)
Homestead Wool & Gift Farm
...where sheep may safely graze.

Picture day!

I have so many beautiful pictures of our sheep that have not been 'out in the public' yet. SO, here we go! 


Baaxter - Romney sheep- 10 years old


Marshall - Corriedale sheep - 13 years old


Puzzle - Wensleydale sheep - 3 years old


Casey- North Country Cheviot sheep- 9 years old


Niles- Wensleydale sheep - 11 years old


Dalai Llama - 15 years old


Penny - Jacob sheep - 5 years old

SO, we have so many great sheep and great pictures- most of these taken by my friend Heidi Ellefson. She has such a talent catching the sheep's expressions!

Be sure to check out the sheep's website ok? Lots of new items for sale- the sheep said you might want to sit down with a big cup of coffee to browse!

Smooches all! Jim & Sandy Ryan ...where sheep may safely graze.

There but by the grace of God...


...Go I.

We live in a rural area and I was so very sad to learn how many homeless people we have in the Monroe area. I am very disappointed to see our U.S. Veterans lost to the streets. It just makes me so sad. It can happen in a second. To anyone.

Many people do choose to remain homeless. But most would give a lot to have a safe place for themselves and their family to sleep at night. Some choose to sleep outside if the shelter will not accept their dogs. I've heard people write and talk about homeless people not deserving to have a dog or pet. That they cannot possibly be taking good care of them living on the streets.

Those are the people who do not see people feeding their dogs before they themselves eat.  Wrapping up in any blanket they can find just to keep that living soul close and warm. Those dogs are often their last 'thing' on earth and when that happens, the dog becomes much more than family. Much much more. They are the only comfort that person has left.

I'm pretty sure you've met our Fletcher, the Great Pyrenees puppy by now. We've had him a few months now and this is his story.

My wonderful Mom volunteers to walk dogs at the county shelter near her home. We had already adopted our Pyr Teagan from the shelter. Then this little puppy came along.

I do not know much about Fletcher's prior person. I kept an eye on the puppy and offered to take him. Then his owner came to retrieve Fletcher. All the way from some place far away- on a bus. He loved his dog.

It turned out this man did not have a home. He was sleeping on the streets and his soul was this beautiful puppy. I think one of the shelter gals was dropping off dog food to him to try and help them out.

One day, that brave, sad man came back to the shelter to leave Fletcher there for good. He said he could not make Fletcher live on the streets during the winter, he could not afford to feed a big dog or have regular vet care.

The shelter gals told him they already had a good home for his puppy but we all know that doesn't help much when you are leaving your soul behind. To trust a stranger to love and keep your dog. I know nothing else about this man except for what I learned from Fletcher.


That puppy has the best manners- most of the time. He was only 13 weeks old when we adopted him. He already knew how to shake, high five, sit, down and of course the ever important 'no.' He also loves to be brushed. I can see the time he put into his puppy to raise such a good citizen.  Things he does are hilarious and we stumble upon his tricks and such always by accident.

When we adopted him, his name was Jim. Since my hubby's name is Jim we re-named the puppy Fletcher. A special family name in the Ryan family. We figured Jim was young enough to learn a new name. Not. Just the other day I was getting frustrated because Fletcher would not respond to me. That is definitely a Pyr trait but he was taking it a little over the limit. Finally I said JIM no. That puppy sat his little hinder down, looked over his shoulder at me like, hey, gotcha', aren't I a good good boy? Wow.

His name is now officially Puppy Jim Fletcher Ryan. :0)

I don't know if Puppy Jim's person will ever read this, but we will never forget how hard it was for you to let him go to a new home. We love your puppy. You did an amazing job raising him. We will be forever grateful for him and love him all his life.

My wish for Christmas would be that if you see a homeless person with a pet, how about stopping to help out with a bag of dog/cat food. A warm meal. Or leave a bag of dog food off at a food pantry. There are also many veterinarians who have pet food pantries now.

 Thank you all for everything you do for our sheep every day. We would not be where we are today with out you. We truly appreciate each and every one of you.


...There but before the grace of God go I.

Jim & Sandy Ryan and all our sheep, llama, horse and chicken family ...where sheep may safely graze.

It's a dog life....

And a good one at that! Here is a post that is mainly pictures of our pack of Great Pyrenese dogs and one deaf Border Collie. Let the photos commence! Whaaat? A new puppy? Heidi Grace is not too sure this is fun but Fletcher is winning her over- slowly. She is our full time watcher of sheep. She likes to come inside for a nap during the day and some brushing of her beautiful self!

This is puppy Fletcher- he has lots to do, lots to do!

Fletcher is 14 weeks old -and wonderful of course. He came to us as a deaf dog, who turned out NOT to be deaf! He was just being a Pyr. They are notorious 'I can't hear you' dogs. His previous owner taught Fletcher to sit, stay, lay down, shake hands, high five and the ever important word- no. All the hard puppy work was already done for us.

Our Noodle the deaf Border Collie. She can hear loud noises but like the Pyrs, she has very selective hearing- ha! She is 10 years old and a silly girl. She's not too sure about a new puppy..... This is how Noodle behaves when she doesn't want to be seen. If she can't see us, we certainly can't see her right? Looked like fun so Fletcher gave it a try too.

Teagan is a wonderful girl, a Pyr who we think is around 6 years old. We absolutely adore her too. She is such a good dog. She love toys and napping on the couch. She does like to work watching over the sheep-during the day. She barks and barks in the favorite Pyr look out spot. However, this is her bed. I don't have the heart to tell her she doesn't quite fit.

Teagan has become good friends with puppy but it took him a while to convince her to share that awesome bed. This is what happened at first, then Fletcher just started hopping into bed by flopping down right on top of Teagan. Doh! There is always a mad dash for the bed and/or couch when the dogs come inside. This 'win' went to puppy! This one to Teagan!

Here we have Milo. He has a misshapen mouth so his tongue doesn't stay in his mouth all the time. He is adorable and slowly learning to be a good sheep guard. He is a very sweet, kind dog and he's one of our 'Pack of Three.'  Teagan has taken over as Fletcher's mom. They play and run like TWO puppies. Milo gallops around with them but hasn't joined in the play time yet. He loves to run. Noodle is definitely not part of the Pack of Three. The third party was unwilling to give up his place in THE bed when I took this. Fletcher is behind Milo.

Where did papa go? When the day is over Heidi Grace goes outside for night duty. Milo sleeps upstairs in our bed- ugh. Noodle sleeps on the floor next to the bed. I've been sleeping on the couch to keep an eye on Fletcher. (I don't sleep much any way!) He sleeps as close as he can to Teagan. This is one tired puppy at the end of the day! I would love to just scoop him up but he says he's too grown up and doesn't want hugs like that. How embarrassing!

They definitely keep me on my toes. I'm the 'bad parent' as soon as Jim gets home from work- that's gratitude for you.

I think the dogs who lived here before them would be proud. At least I hope so. Maybe they'll guide me as I work with them? Or send down be good dog vibes? :0)

Hope you are all having a wonderful week- slobbery smooches (did you know Pyrs are slobbery?) from the pack!

ps- sorry for the alignment issues in this post. I gave up-wordpress beat me. ugh

Jim and Sandy Ryan ...where sheep may safely graze.

The Shepherd's Dog...

From Appletons’ School ReaderIntroductory Fourth Reader (page 205) As published in 1884

The Shepherd’s Dog

  1. The shepherd’s dog is remarkable for its intelligence and sagacity. Far up among the hills, as well as in the green valleys and lowlands, he may be seen guarding and watching his master’s sheep. All over the hills of Cumberland, the mountains of Wales and of Scotland, and in many other parts of the world, thousands of these valuable dogs are to be found. Without them it would be almost impossible to make use of mountain pasture lands.
  2. Not many years ago there lived a Scottish shepherd poet, called James Hogg, who tended his sheep among the green hills and sweetly-flowing streams of the south of Scotland. He had good means of studying the habits of the shepherd’s dog.
  3. He mentions that at one time he had a dog called Sirrah—a very extraordinary animal in managing a flock. One of his exploits was as follows: About seven hundred lambs, which were once under his care, broke away at midnight and scampered off in three divisions across the hills, in spite of all that the shepherd and an assistant lad could do to keep them together.
  4. “Sirrah, my dog,” cried the shepherd, in great distress, “they’re a’ awa’!” The night was so dark that he did not see Sirrah; but the faithful animal had heard his master’s words, and without more ado he silently set off in quest of the runaway flock.
  5. Meanwhile the shepherd and his companion did not fail to do all that was in their power to recover their lost charge. They spent the whole night in searching the hills for miles around; but of neither the lambs nor Sirrah could they obtain any trace.
  6. “It was the most wonderful thing,” says the poet, “that had ever occurred in the life of a shepherd. We had nothing for it (day having dawned) but to return to our master, and inform him that we had lost his whole flock of lambs—that we knew not what had become of one of them!”
  7. “On our way home, however, we discovered some of the lambs at the bottom of a deep hollow, and the faithful Sirrah standing in front of them, looking all around for some relief, but still true to his charge. The sun was then up, and, when we first came within sight of them, we thought that he had as least managed to recover a good number of the lambs.”
  8. “But what was our surprise when we discovered on counting them that not one lamb of the whole flock was wanting! How he had got them all gathered in the dark, I cannot tell. The charge had been left entirely to himself from midnight until the rising of the sun, and, if all the shepherds in the forest had been there to assist him, the work would not have been done so well. I never felt so grateful to any creature under the sun as I did that morning to my honest Sirrah.”
  9. Another strange story told of a shepherd’s dog is as follows: A gentleman sold a large flock of sheep to a dealer, who had not the men to drive them. The seller, however, told him he had a very sensible dog which he could send to assist him to a place about thirty miles off; and that, when he reached the end of his journey, he had only to feed him, and tell him to go home.
  10. The dog soon after got his orders, and set off with the flock and the drover. But he remained absent so many days that his master became very uneasy about him. One morning, however, to his great surprise, he found that the dog had returned with a very large flock of sheep, including the whole of that which he had lately sold!
  11. The fact turned out to be this: The drover had been so pleased with the dog that he had resolved to steal him, and had locked him up until he should be able to leave the country with him. The dog grew sulky, and made various attempts to escape. At last he succeeded; and, strange to say, went at once to the field, gathered the sheep, and drove them all back to his master!
  12. Wonderful, however, as the Scottish shepherd’s dog is, there is a dog in another part of the world more wonderful still, because it is itself the shepherd! In some parts of South America there are sheep dogs which are entrusted with the care of flocks without any master to direct them. They go out with the sheep early in the morning, of their own accord; and they keep beside them all day, driving away the birds of prey that would attack the lambs, and the wild dogs that sometimes came in packs to worry the sheep.
  13. In the evening they bring them home, taking great care by the way that none of the lambs are too tired to keep up with the flock. If they become tired, and begin to lag behind, the dog shepherd will go and fetch them, one by one, carrying them gently in his mouth, until they are safe in the fold.
  14. The means taken to train these dogs to their work are curious. A little pup is brought, before its eyes are open, to a female sheep, and is fed by her several times a day. A wooly nest is made within the sheep pen, and the little stranger is laid within it; so that, when it creeps out, and begins to play, it has no other companions than the lambs of the fold. They thus become its brothers and sisters. As the animal grows up its delight is to be always with them to watch and protect them.

***I loved this as soon as I read it in an old primer/reader. What fun to share stories from so long ago!** Hope you enjoyed this little snippet! We love our dogs so much and without our crew of Great Pyrenees dogs, I would never sleep. The bad guys (coyotes) come too close to our farm, but no worries when the Pyrs are on guard... Smooches from the sheep- have a great weekend! Jim & Sandy Ryan ...where sheep may safely graze.


life is not what I think it should be on the farm. No sheep should ever leave me OR be a senior citizen. (Don't have it in me to call any of our critter family 'old')Most of you know we had to send our Great Pyrenees Bobbi to the big pasture in the sky recently. We miss her so much. She took wonderful care of our sheep, along with her brother Andrew, for 12 years. That is definitely old age for a Pyr. I am sure she and Andrew are busy busy keeping their old friends in line!

When I lose someone, I barely get time to grieve. I always cry even considering a new dog or even looking at ads for a new dog. BUT, Bobbi would not want her sheep friends unprotected from the 'bad guys.' (Coyotes- lots of them.) So I have to get my act together and keep an eye out. This is our new Pyr Milo. We drove to southern IL to pick him up and he's having a bit of culture shock. He's 3 years old and when he met Jim, I turned into the invisible woman. It was so sweet to see Milo take to Jim so quickly. Aren't they cute together? I think I'll keep them both! Ha! So there was no leaving Milo! We had no intention of leaving with out him anyway.   We were told he was 'around sheep' all his life. He had all his vet work current and, he is just gorgeous! It was a long car ride home and a very difficult, scary time for Milo. I can't imagine how sad he must have been to be moved from everything he grew up with. And his best friend Moose the Newfoundland. When we got Milo home, we found he has some issues. His mouth does not quite fit together so his tongue hangs out. He is adorable but I wish his teeth fit together better. We have to feed him soft food and we'd like to see him gain some weight. He is very timid and we are depending on Heidi Grace to help us train him to stay with the sheep. Houston, we have a fence climber! We will be installing a radio fence this weekend to cure that habit! Stinker!

Every animal who finds us is like a puzzle. Each day we find things out about them that make it easier to ease their worries and teach them what we need them to do. Right now we have to keep this cutie inside when we are not out there to monitor his activities. His hips are not the greatest but in addition to climbing our fences, he has also climbed a tree to get over the fence to visit Henry & Niles? He is very determined! He's having separation anxiety when Jim is at work so that is what I am working to ease first for Milo.

We take walks with the sheep, with Heidi Grace, Teagan and Noodle. The girls are showing him the way and I know that is how Bobbi would want things to be. I don't think Milo will ever be able to work alone in Bobbi's group but we'll see. Until we know, or find a working pair of Pyrs, Dalai Llama and Chaquita llama will be coming back to work in Bobbi's group of sheep.

Keep an eye out for updates about Milo. I think this adventurer will keep us on our toes! Hope all is well with all of you! We'll be updating the website this weekend with lots of fun fiber and painted items- keep an eye out ok?

Smooches from everyone! Sandy and Jim ...where sheep may safely graze.