The Chanticleer Flock of sheep

Before welcoming our first guests in October of 1993, we welcomed our flock of sheep.  With 30 acres of property, 15 acres of which were pasture land, we thought bringing a flock of sheep from home was a perfect fit for a county inn.  We raise Border Leicester sheep; an ancient wool breed, which originated in the “Border” area of Great Britain.  Border Leicester sheep are know for their long, lustrous wool, which is excellent for hand spinning.

Many guests of the Chanticleer ask, “What does it mean to have a working sheep farm”.  Our answer to that common question is we actually shear our sheep, produce lambs in the spring and sell lambs for breeding, and for market.

We try to shear our sheep in the spring time, before the ewes have their lambs.  Shearing at this time of the year helps motivate the ewes to lamb in our barn, out of the elements, which is both helpful to the lambs and the innkeeper!  Lambs are born in late March, or early April, and lambing time is the most stressful time of the year when dealing with our sheep.  Darrin goes out every couple of hours, day and night, to check on the ewes and to see if any lambs are being born.  While most often there are no complications, sometimes we have to help a ewe give birth, or motivate a lamb to start nursing.

Years ago, we used to ship our wool to a woolen mill and have our wool processed into yarn.  A good friend of ours would knit the wool into sweaters and we would offer them for sale at the inn.  The cost of shipping wool became extremely expensive and our friend married, so we stopped producing wool sweaters.  Now, the wool we shear is either given away, or we toss it into the woods for the animals to use for nesting material.  If any reader knows of someone who could use some raw wool, please send them our way!

Many of our guests come from large cities and rarely see livestock, such as sheep.  Although they are extra work, we thoroughly enjoy raising lambs and our guests seem to appreciate being able to watch them graze around the inn.  Please send us your sheep questions and check out the photos of our sheep on our website.

The Migration of Door County Bluebirds

We remember our first trip to Door County, in the spring of 1993.  Our purpose for that trip was to come up and visit friends, and stop for lunch in Sturgeon Bay.  As we were driving, we saw a flash of blue beside the highway.  A bluebird had flown up from the ditch and perched himself on a wooden fence post.  We were so excited to actually see a bluebird!  Bryon is originally from Chilton, WI and I grew up in Brooklyn, WI.  I had never seen a bluebird, and Bryon had only witnessed one as a child.  That spring day in 1993 would be the beginning of our passion with bluebirds.

After purchasing the property that would eventually become The Chanticleer Guest House, we set out to bring more bluebirds to our little patch of Door County.  We installed 3 bluebird houses and waited for our little blue friends to arrive in flocks.  They didn’t.  Well, not right away.  We were too late in setting our bird houses and they had already found suitable nests.  While nesting, bluebirds are quite scarce, and in reality, we really were too busy renovating our farmhouse to be searching for bluebirds.  Summer came and went and all of a sudden, we noticed bluebirds on our sheep fence posts and in our bird bath.  We were ecstatic!  The bluebird parents had fledged their chicks and were busy flying down from our fence posts, plucking bugs to feed their hungry offspring.

That first autumn the flocks of bluebirds came in groups of 10 to 20 birds.  They would hang out, searching for food and then all of a sudden, vanished.  Without warning, they all had flown south.  We were so excited to have been able to witness not only a single bluebird that spring, but flocks of them migrating to warmer climates!  When, and how many, would return that next spring?

18 years later, and after countless batches of bluebirds popping out of our bluebird houses, we are still excited when we see those beautiful little birds.  While still not as common as robins, we seem to notice more and more pairs coming back to Chanticleer in the spring.  Our winter ritual of cleaning out bluebird houses has surprised us with some bluebirds staying until December, using our nest boxes as a cozy home.  We know spring is here when we hear the unmistakable melody of the bluebird’s song, floating over our barren sheep pastures in March.

For all you avid bird watchers, we would love to have you come in early spring to witness the spring migration of our Door County bluebirds.