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The Snoqualmie seven: Peck family’s Finnsheep ewe gives birth to ‘instant flock’ | Photos

In a small, fluffy flurry of hooves, wool and inquisitive faces, seven month-old lambs come trotting up Murray and Colleen Peck’s back yard.

The handful of grain is enough to entice the seven Finnsheep lambs, plus their mother Trina, out of their pen. Hungry for a taste treat, they crowd around Colleen, and when the grain is gone, they start their main job, cropping the grass.

The Pecks, Valley residents for more than a decade, are proud of their sheep, for more than just lawn-mowing reasons. Born one month ago, the seven baby Finns of Snoqualmie are pretty special. Finnsheep are prolific mothers, and Trina’s litter of lambs appears to be tied for the United States record for most lambs born at one time to a single Finn ewe.

“It’s an instant flock,” Colleen Peck said.

Seven R’s

Their home is already a hobby farm alive with animals. Two big dogs, two horses and two cats live alongside the Pecks. Their barn cat, Bendigo, mostly keeps out from underhoof. The sheep don’t mind him at all, but stare seriously at strangers who come to see the new lambs.

“We’re a cross between pet owners and amateur breeders,” says Colleen. “I always wanted to have a farm.”

The Peck family switched to Finnsheep a few years ago, and have been impressed with the breed’s cleverness and fecundity.

The Pecks’ little flock was born March 25, weighing between three and five-and-a-half pounds. At the delivery, the Pecks watched, surprised, as the babies kept coming.

While the Finnsheep Breeder’s Association is happy with just a number for each lamb, the Peck family insisted on names for the Snoqualmie seven.

“The rule is, the lambs names’ have to start with the first letter of their father’s name,” Colleen said. So, from ram Rufio, every name starts with ‘R,’ as chosen by Murray and Colleen’s children.

“The girls got named after literary characters,” Colleen said. “We have Rue from ‘The Hunger Games,’ Rowena Ravenclaw from ‘Harry Potter,’ Rebecca from ‘Sunnybrook Farm.’ Three of the boy sheep were named after teachers at Mount Si High School by daughter Tiana.

“I’m sure her teachers would be amused to find that one is Rupert. There’s Ramsayer—how fitting for a sheep—and Rorem.”

The last baby ram ended up going literary, as Roger from ‘Lord of the Flies.’

Good breed

This is Trina’s second litter, having had quadruplets two years ago. Finnsheep are known for their fertility. The breed originated in a land of long summer days and cold, dark winters.

“When the grass come out, you’ve got lots of sheep to eat the forage,” Colleen said. “Come fall, you’ve got a full meat locker and not a lot of sheep to winter over.”

Finns are smart, Colleen says, even as lambs. They’ve got good wool, because these sheep are smart enough to seek shelter in the rain.

Colleen plans to sell them to other breeders interested in their good qualities. For interested fairgoers, Colleen reports that Trina’s sister won an award for best fleece at the Puyallup Spring Fair.

Finns aren’t judged as show sheep, but on how many babies they raise and how good they are as mothers.

“Nobody will ever give an actual ribbon,” Colleen said. But in her eyes, Trina is a grand champ.

To hobby farmers interested in sheep, Finns might be for you—if you’re ready for hard work and vet duties.

“You have to like sheep,” Colleen said. “Finns are really good pets. They’re smart, friendly and not as big… If you want wagging tails, in-your-lap kind of friendly, get a dog or cat. But as far as farm animals go, they make really good pets.”

“They’re a lot cuddlier than a cow,” Murray adds.

 

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