Friday, April 7, 2017

Cool Sheep Karma


Occasionally, you have something happen to you that makes you stop and think, “Wow that was cool”. Something that comes out of the blue and could not have been predicted or a story that is so good you could not have made it up. That very thing happened to us, most specifically Isaac this past week.

Let me set the stage. We decided after nine years of sheep production that we finally had enough lambs and more importantly, enough good lambs to host an open house at our farm and sell a selection of this year’s lamb crop. It was kind of a nerve racking ordeal because you are not sure how many people (if any) will show up. I decided we would keep this year’s affair a low budget operation and see how it went. The only money we spent was for a new white board to keep track of bids and sales and a batch of Jennifer’s soon-to-be famous monster cookies.

No, I did not spend a dime advertising the sale opting for relying on free social media. I started a Facebook page for our farm and posted on several other pages and Craig’s List. I went cheap (a strategy that will be reviewed next year). Keep all of this in mind as the story unfolds.

Even with my frugal approach to advertisement we did get some interest in the lambs including one gentleman from Oklahoma who was interested in Isaac’s Southdowns. He contacted me via Facebook and we exchanged communications for the better part of two weeks. I told him about the genetics behind Isaac’s flock and we planned for transportation if purchases were made. All along I thought it was kind of neat that we had attracted the attention of someone from Oklahoma.

The night before the sale we were making final arrangements and I sent him some more pictures including more information about the bloodlines of the ewe lambs he was interested in. Let me mention a detail about Isaac’s Southdowns I had forgotten to include up to this point. Isaac had developed an affinity for Southdown sheep after buying a Southdown whether to show. At the same time the Kansas Sheep Association started its Starter Flock Loan program.

The program allowed for a three-year loan in which the youth interested in sheep production. KSA would  purchase the ewes and give them to the youth. Since then (and probably because of Isaac) the loan is limited to commercial ewes but Isaac indicated on the application that he wanted Southdowns. KSA purchased the ewes for Isaac and I know Jeff Ebert spent a good bit of time finding those pesky Southdown ewes. I still remember the day when Jeff called to tell Isaac that he had found five ewes in Oklahoma and would be bringing them to us later that week (it was a full-service loan).

Isaac got his ewes and in a few weeks the registration papers came. I remember looking at them but not really knowing much about Southdown breeders. OK, now that I have added that to the story, fast forward to the night before our first annual open house. I looked through the papers of Isaac’s ewes and looked at the two original ewes he still had (after four years) and noticed that the name on the registrations matched the name of the gentleman from Oklahoma inquiring about Isaac’s ewe lambs. I am kind of slow but a light came on in my little brain and I made a connection.

The morning of the sale I shared my theory with Isaac and he started communicating with our Oklahoma friend directly. Sure, enough the original ewes had come from him. He knew that they were for a youth in Kansas to start their flock but he had not made the connection. After all he did have Isaac’s name for the papers but KSA had paid him directly for the sheep.

Our new friend and customer from Oklahoma ended up purchasing two ewe lambs through our sale. He and Isaac also decided for him to come look at other ewe lambs and potentially some mature ewes too. He had sold all his Southdown ewes but was now looking to get back into raising them and had randomly come across our sale flyer.

That night I sat down and reflected about what happened. We had a pretty good sale, especially for the first one. However, my mind kept coming back to the set of random circumstances that led to Isaac selling lambs back to the same breeder he had gotten his start from and neither one of them knowing the other until after the sale was complete. Talk about going full circle. I tell you, sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up because the truth is way cooler than fiction.

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