In 2011, Natasha McCrary’s middle child became smitten with a Southdown Babydoll sheep while visiting a petting farm. The interaction set into motion the eventual launch of 1818 Farms.
“Owning a Babydoll was all he could talk about,” recalls farm owner McCrary, who’s based in Mooresville, Alabamba. (The village has a population of under 60 people.)
“I began to dream my own plans for a small profitable farm where we could teach our children to appreciate the land and animals and to be good conservationists.”
Since founding 1818 Farms, McCrary has grown the venture to take in a line of bath and beauty products and a successful adjacent flower farm. And of course, there’s a flock of Babydoll sheep, which have become stars of the farm’s social media accounts.
We spoke to McCrary about the undeniable appeal of Babydoll sheep. She also discussed caring for her flock and ways to keep sheep and flowers on the same property.
A Lovably Docile And Versatile Sheep
“After being introduced to Babydolls in the fall of 2011 I began to research various sheep breeds,” says McCrary when asked about 1818’s focus on Babydoll sheep.
“I was attracted to the Babydoll breed in particular due to their docile nature, small size and versatile fleece. And they are naturally polled [without horns].”
“As a female farmer practicing animal husbandry, I felt the breed was a perfect fit for our family farm,” adds McCrary.
Get To Know Babydoll Sheep
McCrary says that her Babydoll sheep, like humans, display a wonderful range of personalities—complete with each sheep having their own distinctive “baa” that she can recognize instantly.
She points to Lulu (pictured), who’s a founding member of the flock, as possessing “an outgoing personality.”Lulu, she says, always enjoys meeting new visitors to the farm.
There’s also Static, a wethered ram, who “loves to receive head and ear scratches.” He even “wags his tail during his petting sessions!”
In general, McCrary says, “Our flock is extremely friendly. They have been socialized from birth and are used to meeting farm visitors during our tour season.”
The resident barn cats and sheep, she adds, “live in harmony.” The former often enjoy naps on the flock’s hay stash when they’re out for dinner.
Raising Babydoll Sheep
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The lambs are growing up so fast. Weaning day begins Monday for several of the older lambs. If anyone has a fabulous pair of ear plugs please send them to me. Weaning Day equals the loudest day of the year on the farm. So much baaaaing. I’ll try to post a video with the sound on.
On a day-to-day basis, McCrary calls Babydoll sheep “easy keepers.” She says that during summer, they’re content to graze almost almost one hundred percent of the time. During mild winters, hay is on hand.
“We do over-seed our pastures in mid-fall with sheep-appropriate grazing pasture mixes,” she explains.
Sheep Versus Flowers
1818 Farms counts over 11,000 flowers growing across its fields. And thanks to a dependable fencing setup, they’ve managed to keep the sheep from snacking on the blooms.
McCrary adds that the rams’ paddock sits adjacent to the flower fields. During harvests, she explains, “they stand and baa at us until we bring flowers or herbs over for a snack.”
(Giant culinary marigolds are the rams’s current snack of choice.)
Adding Babydolls to Your Farm
Are you similarly obsessed with the adorable Southdown Babydolls? McCrary encourages potential owners to go deep on researching the breed.
“Be sure you can fulfill their basic care requirements such as hoof trimming, parasite management, shearing and access to a local small ruminant vet,” she says. “Then prepare to fall in love with this gentle breed.”
Follow 1818 Farms at Instagram.