HIGH ROAD SHEEP 

North Country Cheviots .. Suffolks

        MY NORTH COUNTRY HISTORY
       
                                                  
    NOSS CHAMPION
    My grandfather's undefeated show ram pictured in 1956 after winning the Caithness County Show, an event notable for including the largest North Country Cheviot show in the world.  A powerful sheep with tremendous length, rib and girth. More about him in "Sheep Stories" 
   

    North Country Cheviot sheep played a major role in my livestock heritage growing up. My grandfather John Doull was a well known livestock breeder and judge in Caithness, Scotland's rugged northernmost mainland county and home of the breed. From the age of ten, I spent every summer on the farm and soon determined that livestock breeding would be my life's work. My primary emphasis at the time was on Shorthorn cattle, a breed enjoying great export demand, especially  to North America and Argentina in those days.
    After graduating from the North of Scotland College of Agriculture in Aberdeen, I determined that opportunity for me might lie across the Atlantic, and accepted a job managing an up and coming Shorthorn operation in the State of Maryland. My new employer was J.McKenny Willis, Bloomfield Farms on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. His primary business was poultry prodution and processing to the tune of 40 million birds a year,(which he described as a small company compared to the competition).
    My transatlantic adventure began in June 1965 when I landed at Baltimore Airport resplendant in my tweed sport coat with the temperature 97 degrees.
    Mr.Willis had some interest in starting a sheep operation, but was unsure as to which breed to pursue. Naturally I suggested North Country Cheviots, though knew nothing of their availabiliy. 
We were fortunate to have a reliable advisor nearby however. Bob Offord managed the nationally known Wye House Suffolk flock for Mr.Morgan Schiller. Bob had left Selkirk, Scotland for Canada as a young man and farmed over thirty years near Calgary, Alberta before moving to Maryland. Bob was a true stockman and became a good friend and neighbor.
    He assured us that there were many fine North Country sheep in Canada, and that when he attended the Canadian Royal, the best invariably came from Stan Bagg in Ontario. 
    (I did know that Scottish sheep had been imported into Canada several times over the years, whereas such activity wass not permitted into the U.S.A.)
    Mr Willis and I had plans to attend two Shorthorn sales in Ontario that fall (Louada and Gloriadale) and elected to look for sheep at that time.  We located Stan Bagg near Oshawa and found his sheep to be every bit as good as we had hoped. We bought the champion pen of three ewe lambs from the recent "Royal" plus a ram. We met Duncan McTavish from Uxbridge who worked closely with Stan and bought several more females from him.  We subsequently traded a good Shorthorn bull to Dunc for ten ewe lambs. One of my new cowboy buddies, Bob Magill, a genial North Dakotan who managed Lewisfield Shorthorns in Virginia,  was curious what we got for the bull. When I told him ten ewe lambs, he was incredulous,
    "What a lousy deal!"  he ranted, clearly not a sheep man!
    Donald, one of Dunc's sons came to Maryland to work for us and was my right hand man for a couple of years.







    Mr Willis and I  went to Scotland in 1969 and are pictured at the Caithness Show. We landed in Scotland the morning after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. We visited a Shorthorn herd the next day. A rather erudite lady answered the farmhouse door.
    "Are you the Americans? "she asked.
    Rather than complicate things, I answered yes.
    "I'm so glad you got to the moon before the Russians!"

    (Of course the Scots were proud that the first man on the moon had a Celtic pedigree and a very Scottish name!)
 
    We toured all over Scotland, as far North as Caithness, and stopped at Loch Ness for the obligatory look for the monster. We saw a strange craft on the shore, and found it to be a little yellow one man submarine owned by an American, Dan Taylor from Georgia. It was built to look for the monster. (Of course the Beatles had put yellow submarines on the map around that time) So I asked the guy babysittning the little yellow sub,
    "What happens if the man in the sub finds the monster?"
    "He'll try to move in close enough to get a biopsy
sample."
    So I'm wondering how long the monster is going to stay put while some bozo is trying to hack a piece off meat off his rear end. 
    Along the shore we saw a big orange diving bell hanging on a crane. It had been built by Vickers-Armstrong, a big engineering firm, and was being tested in Loch Ness, the deepest fresh water body in Europe. We were told that the diving bell had sonar equipment, and that recently they had tracked an object estimated at thirty feet long moving rapidly under the water.
    




          

          Two of the original Bagg ewes with their first lambs.
                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       




 













  Champion Ram and top seller, Canadian Royal "Sale of the Stars " 1968 bought for the Willis flock. Myself left with Stan Bagg, Merrilyn from Australia and Stan's handler.


                                                                                                  

      Our own Canadian handler, Donald McTavish with a stout Willis ram lamb.  Donald like me became a member of the U.S Army National Guard.  The alternative was to get drafted and maybe wind up in Vietnam.


                                                                                                 
        My favorite Canadian ram, Breeze Acres 21A."George"
   He came from Prince Edward Island along with Frenchfort Lad 2D in 1972.
 Purchased from a fine old gentleman, George Campbell, Souris, P.E.I., he went by the name of "George" thereafter.
  He was the foundation ram in our West Virginia flock, a great sire of females.











  The Westcaith ewes fresh of the truck from Manitoba, 1970.
   We used both shots in our "Heads or Tails" ad in the breed brochure at the time. 
 Barely visible far right is "Bill" our first Border Collie, from Henry Kuykendall, then in PA, now NC, still a top dog man.                     


  
    We built the flock up to 100 impressive ewes though marketing opportunities were limited in that area. We kept in touch with Stan Bagg, who told us about the dispersal of the imported Westcaith flock in Manitoba, and we were  pleased to obtain 30 ewes off the top at reasonable money. My new wife Julie and I drove to the Canadian Maritime provinces in 1972 looking for more outcross genetics, and found four rams primarily thanks to Allison Stewart, Prince Edward Island.  Breeze Acres 21A and Frenchfort Lad 2D were two that especially  made their mark..
    After eight years with Mr.Willis, I developed the urge to have our own operation. Ralph Warren Sr, a good friend and sheep  customer urged us to move to "God's Country" which according to him was the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia, where of course he lived. Ralph found us a 450 acre farm to rent in Pocahontas County, so with help from Julie's family, we bought our foundation cattle from Mr.Willis, while he generously gave us 20 ewes and a ram. We moved in the spring of 1973 and spent the next 23 years at Millpoint. Julie taught school all that time while I tended to the stock and enjoyed the fellowship of a fine farming community.
    I was indeed fortunate to have had the rare opportunity I enjoyed with Mr Willis to develop such an operation and will be forever indebted to him. He was indeed a fine gentleman with wisdom and integrity not to mention a commitment to quality livestock. He passed away  in 2004 aged 101. (He would be happy to learn that his last flock is still intact in Maryland, in the capable hands of Susan Davies, with whom I have recently been in touch.)
    Our sheep thrived in their new bountiful environment and we sold many as seestock icluding starting new flocks for such as Carl Armstrong, Monterey,VA, Elbert Holmes, Hillsboro,WV, Yuvonne Snyder, Maysville, WV, Bob Totten, Ronceverte, WV, Denver Gandee, Spencer, WV and Tim Blakely, Looneyville,WV among others. We sold about 20 ewes to Bonnie Henny in Oregon, still a premier breeder.
    Unfortunately the coyotes moved in, and such were our losses, we were reluctantly forced to sell the flock in the early 80s. We had no sheep for 30 years thereafter, but never doubnted that the day would come again. In the meantime, both MrWillis and I were honored to be inducted into the American North Country Cheviot Hall of Fame.
    Obviously, the availability of gaurd dogs has made sheep raising a reality again, and we were happily able to renew our old acquaintance thanks to the dogs in 2008 with Wesley Woods in Highland County, Virginia. We founded new flocks there for Wesley, as described elsewhere in this site.
                                                                              
              
   


         




                                                                                            
           

          













 Champion Ram Lamb, American National sale 1978, Macomb Illinois. Purchased for our West Virginia flock from Bill Stephen,Calgary, Alberta,(right) I enjoyed meeting Bill and was sorry to hear later of his passing.


        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               


Bloomfield Fortress

Willis bred ram used in 
our West Virginia flock.







                        










   
FROM THE SCOTTISH ARCHIVES
           

                                       
                                                                                                                              
     
   My grandfather's NOSS CHAMPION, right as a 3 year old, with his son Remiggy Style, prior to his last championship at the 1956 Thurso Ram sale. He and his 6 sons were the top averaging flock consigment. Bred by Alistair Clyne, Wick, Caithness (still farming and breeding sheep as of 2011) The picture I took right after the rams had been whitened, and their wool stained brown before leaving for Thurso. Staining the wool brown was intended to accentuate the head and bone. At least that has been my supposition all these years. The wool was stained with something called "burnt umber" which is a natural reddish brown earth pigment.
    The photo shows what a massive deep ribbed sheep Noss Champion was. He was never beaten in the showring, but I remember asking my grandfather why he didn't send him to the "Highland" the most prestigeous show of all. That would likely be a long way from home. The show moved around the country every year in those days, but Caithness was far from any of the venues, other than maybe Inverness.



Rather a blurry photo of Noss Champion (left) and his six yearling sons the day before they left for the Thurso ram sale in 1956.
                                                                                                                    







                     
                     
 KNOCKGLASS TRUE FORM
  Perhaps the most successful Scottish breeding ram of the fifties, he was champion at the Highland Show, and sired many winners. He was grandsire of most of the ewes we imported from Westcaith, Manitoba. Bred by D.C. Macadie , Westfield, Caithness, a master breeder.

                                                                                                                          

                      GLASTULLICH GRAND SLAM
   Related to Noss Champion, he was Champion at the Hawick Sale. Bred by Willie McGillivray,
also a celebrated Ross-shire Shorthorn breeder.

              







   
         

A great picture of my maternal grandfather John Doull taken in 1905 when he was a champion road racing cyclist. My close relationship with him no doubt generated my lifelong devotion to livestock breeding. I regret to say that I inherited neither his good looks nor his athletic prowess. He lived to be 94. Maybe I can inherit some longevity.



   

   
        Myself in the early north country days. 

                         Lybster, Caithness.


                                 
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