Showing the merit of colored sheep

Want a black sheep in the family?

Then South Canterbury is the place to be on Saturday 5th February, when the New Zealand Black and Colored Sheep Breeders Association hold their annual sheep sale, followed by an open day for all interested people.

The sale was expected to attract entries from Canterbury to Southland. The sheep show would start from 10:30 a.m. and the sale would start at noon.

In a new initiative, the sale would be followed by an open day at Stuart and Sue Albrey’s farm, near Waimate, from 2.30pm, where local breeders would showcase different breeds and highlight their specific characteristics.

Usually, after the sale, the breeders went to the Albreys for a few workshops, followed by a barbecue. But they ran out of ideas for workshops that weren’t repetitive, and there were usually the same people every year.

Mr Albrey, who is the South Island delegate to the association, was considering what they could do “a little different”. Generating memberships was something that was often discussed and so it was decided to hold an open day for the public; the sheep sale had always been open but only members could sell sheep there.

His goal was for people to see how they could use black and colored sheep to meet their needs on their own properties, from as a “lawnmower” to producing fine fibers to make into lightweight clothing.

“All bet,” he said.

Information would also be available on sheep farming while Canterbury breeders Leo and Karen Ponsonby demonstrate how to turn raw fleeces into yarn.

Mr Albrey was originally from Palmerston North and moved south in 1986 to take up a teaching position at Waimate High School.

He was a track and field coach and the parents of some of the children he coached had a small colored herd and the couple received half a dozen pigs from them. A close relationship with the late Bruce and Ellen Anderson provided access to “some of the best genetics” and their herd numbers grew.

After growing tired of having “little lease blocks here and there”, the family then bought their 50 ha property.

Having knitted from the age of around seven or eight, he was very fond of handicrafts, using his own wool.

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