Welcome to our Farm Looking for bred ewes? Check out our Sheep for Sale page. Lambs are coming in April!
Welcome to Fence Row Farm, a family farm located in the lower peninsula of Michigan. We are in our tenth year of raising horned Icelandic sheep, a primitive breed of sheep with a colorful dual coat that is extremely versatile and a fine textured meat that is absolutely delicious.
Whether you are a returning friend or someone we havenít met yet, we are glad that you are here. Our flock now contains around 40 Icelandic sheep, though when our lambs are born, starting in mid-April, we'll but up to around 80. We are still learning, improving our bloodlines, and diligently working for the improvement of the breed.
If you are looking for breeding stock, wondering whether keeping sheep is for you, or searching for fleeces, yarn, or roving, we would be happy to hear from you.
Icelandic sheep normally twin, though triplets are not unusual. They are excellent mothers. The lambs typically grow fast, when on good pasture, as Icelandic ewes produce milk with a higher than average butterfat content. This makes them excellent candidates for use in a sheep dairy, especially for making artisanal cheese. Their meat is absolutely delicious; very mild tasting, even when it's from an older animal.
Our sheep provide an abundant crop of beautiful fleece twice a year. In mid-October we shear the lambs and most of the ewes. The fleeces we get are in all colors and patterns: white, moorit (brown), black, spotted, gray, mouflan, badgerface, beautiful! The outer coat (tog) is long and strong. The undercoat (thel) is soft and warm. The fall clip provides wonderful fleece for handspinners. Whether as raw fleece or as roving, it can be spun into yarn suitable for a number of products from baby clothing made from the soft undercoat to durable rugs made from adult fleece. From weavers to knitters, from those who love felting to those who want to make braided rugs, Icelandic wool is excellent. Wool products are warmer and last longer than those made from man-made fibers.
In May, we have the entire flock shorn. This allows our flock to be trimmed of their already shedding winter coats and get a clean start for the spring and summer wool growth so their fleeces will be wonderful in the fall. The spring clip is usually most suitable for felting. From the fall clip, we sell the very best raw fleece to hand spinners, and have the best of the rest made into roving and lopi. The spring clip tends to have a lot of waste, but the good parts are made into felting batts.
Though we started with the idea of selling only breeding stock and fleece, our experience has taught us that not all animals, even from the best stock, should be breeding stock. Thus, we have diversified into also selling freezer lamb to local customers. Of course we do sell registered, breeding quality ewes, ewe lambs, and rams. We also offer bred ewes. A selected few of our sheep, unsuitable for breeding but having lovely fleeces or friendly personalities, are available as fiber pets for a spinnerís flock or as beautiful lawn mowers.
About Our Farm
Our sheep have not only brought us the joy of having beautiful, interesting livestock, but they have enabled us to learn many things that have influenced our relationship to our land. Before we got our sheep, our farm consisted of several open fields separated by the brambly overgrown fence rows that ultimately named our farm for us. Our fields were plowed and planted in alternating years to crops of corn and soybeans. At first we were really pleased at the contribution to agriculture that we believed our farm made. As we lived with our rented out fields and the annual crops on our gently undulating land, we were increasingly shocked to see how much erosion was taking its toll on our soil, visible even the first year to our new farming eyes.
It makes us laugh now to think of how we took our rototiller and garden rakes out to smooth out chisel plowed ruts so we could plant half an acre of pasture. That left about 64 1/2 acres to go...
That half acre, obviously, didnít do anything to stop the erosion, but it was a start. We planted a little more and a little more. By that time we were seriously considering which type of livestock we wanted. A friend introduced us to Icelandic sheep and we were instantly convinced. We started our flock with two beautiful ewe lambs, Madeline and Lucy, as well as a ram and a wether to keep him company. We still have Arthur, the wether. He is now 16 years old. He moves slow and doesn't have any front teeth anymore, but with alfalfa pellets and beet pulp, he's hanging on.
Over the course of time we have learned the benefits to our land that grazing brings and the benefits to our own health that comes from eating grassfed meat and free range poultry and their eggs. We are learning and implementing sustainable farming practices in order to leave our farm in a healthier, more productive state than it was when we bought it. All of our fields have now been converted to permanent pasture where we practice rotational grazing throughout the growing season.
We have also added Icelandic chickens. They are free range during the day and penned up at night for their protection from predators.