You are certainly welcome to come to the farm and visually and physically inspect sheep you intend to purchase, before making your final buying commitment. That said, most of the year, there are 200-300 sheep here on pasture. So, I’m not really set up for “tire kickers” who just want to come peruse the flock and maybe buy something. It’s not feasible to wander the pasture and point out sheep that catch your eye, and say “is that one for sale and for how much?” I can’t keep track of all those sheep in my head, so any sheep that you point out, I’d have to go look it up on my computer to ascertain whether it’s for sale, and to be able to tell you any information about the animal. Only a small percentage of the sheep here are for sale as breeding stock, the rest are my “keepers” or are already sold to someone else, or already reserved on the butcher lamb waiting list.
Thus, it’s imperative that you come with a “short list” of sheep you are interested in buying and narrow down your final choices from there. For example, if you plan to buy six ewes, I recommend making a list of ten from the website that you like, then coming to view those ten animals and narrow down your choices. It’s most efficient to start with the list of available sheep for sale, or to tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll help you derive a list of sheep that are most likely to meet your needs. It’s also really important that you know your priorities, or you will be overwhelmed by the choices here. Sometimes I have people start out saying “fast growing lambs and crop yield are the most important thing to me”, but when they get here, they get distracted by a pretty pinto ram that has lower growth scores, and then can’t decide on priorities. Or, someone specifies they are working on a tight budget, so I give them a list of lower-cost choices, but then when they arrive, they suddenly become interested in the most expensive animal here and are torn with indecision. This can make the selection process take a long time. 🙁
Often the sheep are out in large pastures and are a 5-10 minute walk from the house, so you need to be physically able to navigate rough pasture on foot. If you are just looking for one or two sheep and are ok with seeing them at a small distance, we can stroll the pasture and I’ll help find and point them out to you, and you can see them walk naturally. If you need to physically handle the sheep or see them up close, I will use a border collie to gather the herd and fence them in a temporary enclosure and help you find and catch the animals you are interested in inspecting. Some times of the year, the ewes are in a different pasture from the rams and/or the lambs, so if you are looking for animals out of more than one group, this will take 2-3 hours.
This is why I try to give as much information as possible about each animal on the website, to facilitate most/all of the “shopping” being virtual. For serious producers, the EBVs should tell you most of what you need to know about an animal’s production potential. And for hobby farmers, the photographs should give you a good idea of what the sheep looks like. Most of my buyers are able to make their selections solely from the information provided on the website.
Once you have confirmed your final choices via inspection, on that day or another day, I’ll load the sheep into my ATV trailer and haul them up to the barn. Then, de-worm them, trim their hooves, and get them settled and ready for transport; as well as prepare your paperwork. It’s ideal if you can choose your stock 2-3 weeks before your pickup date, to allow me time to fit this into my schedule. Alternatively, you can take them home the day you select them, if you can hang out for an hour or more while I do the prep work.
I ask that if you need to spend more than an hour here learning about sheep, or making purchase selections, that you offer to pay an hourly rate for my time in answering questions, or sorting sheep and presenting them for your inspection. If you cannot walk the pasture to view sheep and ask me to bring some up to the barn for viewing, I would charge for that as well (as it’s a couple hours of work to bring them up, then later haul them back out.) We are so busy on the farm and there is so much work to do, time is very precious. It’s really tough when a potential buyer takes up several hours of time, and then sometimes decides not to even make a purchase. But, it is certainly reasonable to ask to inspect animals before buying, as long as thit is is done in a time-efficient manner. Thank you for your understanding!