PHOTO ESSAY of the Florida Cracker Sheep 

Monday, April 14, 2014 5:23:00 PM

Here at The Farmhouse, we have chosen a unique breed of sheep that is a true Florida original - the Florida Cracker sheep.  We use sheep on our two acre property for mowing, general maintenance and upkeep.  Formerly called the Florida Native Sheep, genetic testing has confirmed that the once feral sheep in Florida are descended from the original settler’s Spanish Churro sheep, and have been renamed Florida Cracker Sheep.   These sheep were brought over from Spain to the Saint Augustine settlement in about 1565.  While surviving and adapting well to the harsh scrub landscape conditions for the last 450 or so years, the Florida Cracker Sheep is now considered CRITICALLY endangered, with possibly less than 2,000 viable animals remaining.

Florida Cracker sheep are extremely hardy.  They have evolved to be naturally disease resistant and are protective mothers to their young.  Their coloration with rusty reds, tans or browns, freckled faces and small stature allow them to blend in with their environment. Florida Crackers have a calm, friendly disposition and are easy to work with when they are handled on a regular basis.  These sheep have adapted over time towards the shedding their wool in the late spring, especially on the belly where they are more able to keep cool when lying on the ground during the hot mid-day in summer.  Often, a protective mat of wool remains on the back to shield the skin while grazing.

Florida Cracker sheep are remarkably intelligent and are easy to train.  Most importantly, they respect the fencing on the property and tend to stay in pairs or small groups while grazing.  These sheep have a natural flocking tendency making it hard to have just one animal on the property.  A minimum of two sheep are recommended with enough land to maintain them for successful small urban homesteads.

Here are a few photos of some of the sheep we have enjoyed raising here at The Farmhouse.

Florida Cracker ewe named Freckles

Sheep work 24 / 7.  They don't use fossil fuels, cause air pollution or require expensive repairs.  They are a compact, all-in-one mowing, weed-eating and fertilizing animal that helps maintain our environment.

Pensive pause.

MADE IN THE SHADE on a hot Florida day!!  Lena and Balto, Great Pyrenees protective herding dogs with their friend Daisy.

Sheep easily maintain rugged or environmentally sensitive areas.  Here, they are seen "mowing" a swale between properties that is generally too damp for a lawn mower to transverse.  Narrow gaps between neighbor fencing that will not accomodate the turn radius of a mower are also ideal areas for sheep who crop weeds and grasses to an even level.

Peaceful, pastoral scene of sheep grazing under the Florida scrub pines.

Everyone's favorite part of spring here at The Farmhouse - new baby lambs!

The black sheep are usually my favorites.

Mr. Darcie

All photos taken by Margaret Goudelock.  All right reserved by The Farmhouse  Cocoa, Florida.

Margaret Goudelock was a journalism major at the University of Mississippi before she transferred to the University of North Texas to pursue a more lucrative degree in Art History, Painting and French.  After working for small businesses for the last twenty five years, Ms. Goudelock has found an avocation in urban farming, gardening and homesteading.

The work of AVID HOMESTEAD continues with efforts to open up properties in residential zoning classifications to support more ecologically friendly urban homesteading including responsible small animal husbandry, urban farming and gardening and cottage industries.  A big part of this effort is through educational programs and platforms that support these ends.  In working with government, our motto is surely an open and friendly one - Let's just KISS!!!  Keep It SIMPLE Stupid.

Ms. Goudelock is married to Toby Napier – the long-wearing sound board and brilliant webmaster for AVID  Ms. Goudelock is the mother of two beautiful girls who are both enthusiastic,creative and love animals.  It is for their continued growth and the preservation of a more natural way of life that we strive.

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