The Blacksheep Homestead


The Working English Shepherd, America's Heritage faRmily dog!

A well-bred English Shepherd is a multi-purpose working homestead/farm dog...
An upright, bossy herder who maintains order and enforces rules, keeping stock where they belong and "tattling' on escapees and rulebreakers; A gentle nurturing guardian of vulnerable livestock and little children; An avid eradicator of pests and potential predators. ES are also useful trackers and hunters, helping to locate lost or wounded animals, will "bark treed" and otherwise assist to help procure meat for the table, and can also excel in SAR.

  Blacksheep Rowdy Yates and Sophie :)

American Guinea Hogs

Breed Facts

Meat and cured products

Adult Weight:
200 lbs (male)
150 lbs (female)

Hanging Weight:
100 lbs


Our AGHA registered boar, Buford :)


"The Guinea Hog is a small, black breed of swine that is unique to the United States. Also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Guinea Forest Hog, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig, the breed was once the most numerous pig breed found on homesteads in the Southeast.

Hogs were imported from West Africa and the Canary Islands to America in conjunction with the slave trade. The imports were documented as early as 1804 by Thomas Jefferson and other Virginia farmers. These large, square animals were called Red Guineas, because they had red or sandy colored hair. Red Guineas were common throughout the mid-Atlantic region during the 1800s. The breed disappeared as a distinct population in the 1880s, when most of the red breeds and types of hogs in the eastern United States were combined to form the new Jersey-Duroc breed. Although extremely rare, occasionally Guinea hog breeders of today find red highlights in the hair of their Guineas and even more rare, is a completely red individual born. 

The name Guinea occurs again a few decades later in the southeastern United States, though describing a different animal entirely ? a small, black hog common on homesteads across the region. Guinea Hogs were expected to forage for their own food, eat rodents and other small animals, grass, roots, and nuts, and clean out garden beds. The hogs were also kept in the yard where they would eat snakes and thus create a safe zone around the house. These Guineas were hardy and efficient, gaining well on the roughest of forage and producing the hams, bacon, and lard essential for subsistence farming.

Several mysteries confuse the breed's history. The relationship between the historic Red Guinea and the Guinea Hog may be simply the common use of the term "guinea" to refer to an African origin. "Guinea" may also refer to the small size of the hogs, somewhat akin to the description of miniature Florida Cracker and Pineywoods cattle as "guinea cows." There is recent evidence that what is now known as the Guinea Hog may be related to the Essex, a small, black English breed which was imported to the United States in about 1820 and used in the development of the Hampshire. Essex hogs were known to exist in the Southeast until about 1900. The Essex hog's history is obscure and it eventually disappeared some time later that century. "Guinea Essex" pigs were used in research at Texas A & M University and at the Hormel Institute in the 1960s, though there is little information available about those stocks.

Guinea Hogs were widespread, and descriptions of them varied. Generally, the hogs were small, weighing 100-300 pounds, and black or bluish-black in color. They had upright ears, a hairy coat, and a curly tail. Beyond this, conformation varied, as hogs could have short or long noses and be "big boned", "medium boned", or "fine boned." It is likely that many strains of Guinea Hogs existed. Since most of these are extinct, it is now impossible to weave together all the threads of the Guinea Hog story into a single neat piece.

The Guinea Hog became rare as the habitat of the homestead hog disappeared, and it survived only in the most isolated parts of the Southeast. During the 1980s, new herds of Guinea Hogs were established, and the breed has enjoyed a new resurgence on small farms and modern homesteads. They are appropriate for use on pasture or in wooded areas where they thrive on foraging. Their small size, gentle temperament, and efficiency make them suitable for many smaller properties. Guinea hogs have uniquely desirable flavor characteristics. The fat of the Guinea Hog is abundant and firm, and has found interest with chefs and butchers for making charcuterie (old world style cured meats). Their rendered lard would be of particular interest to pastry chefs for use in crusts and dough. The have an exceptionally tender meat and produce fine hams."

(From The Livestock Conservancy website)

American Chinchilla Rabbits

Breed Facts

Meat, Fur

Adult Weight:
9 - 12 lbs


Experience Level:

Fast growth, Good meat to bone ratio

"The first Chinchillas were created by a French engineer M.J. Dybowski and were shown for the first time in April 1913 at Saint-Maur, France. The new breed took the rabbit world by storm as the ideal fur rabbit, which so greatly resembled the South American Chinchilla lanigera. A Mrs. Haidee Lacy-Hulbert of Mitcham Surrey, imported the first of the breed to England in the summer of 1917. A British exhibitor presented a shipment at the New York State Fair in 1919. After the show, he sold all the stock to Edward H. Stahl and Jack Harris. The original Chinchillas were rather small at 5 to 7 1/2 pounds, and American breeders set out to produce a larger animal that would be better suited for meat and pelts. Through selective breeding for larger size, fine bones, and a good dress-out percentage, a breed standard was issued for the Heavyweight Chinchilla. It was a larger form of the Standard Chinchilla – the same shape, color, and general make up. In 1924, both Chinchilla breeds were adopted into the standards book and shortly thereafter, the Heavyweight Chinchilla was renamed the American Chinchilla.

There is no single person that can be credited with the development of the American Chinchilla, though the breed can be credited with making a large impact with rabbit keepers and other rabbit breeds. Between November 1928 and November 1929, no less than 17,328 Chinchillas were registered through the American Rabbit & Cavy Breeders Association (American Rabbit Breeders Association, Inc.) – a record that has yet to be broken. The Chinchilla rabbit has contributed to the development of more breeds and varieties of rabbit worldwide than any other breed of domestic rabbit. Sports from the Chinchilla have created the Silver Martens and American Sables in the United States, and the Siamese Sable and Sallander breeds abroad.

The American Chinchilla is the most rare of the Chinchilla breeds. Its small population is largely due to the demise of the rabbit fur industry of the late 1940’s. Despite the breed’s fine meat producing qualities, producers of today prefer an all white rabbit for the meat market. The American Chinchilla is a large, hardy and gentle animal, with mature bucks weighing in at 9 to 11 pounds and does at 10 to 12 pounds. They produce large litters, have good mothering instincts, and fryers reach market weight quickly.

At first glance the American Chinchilla is salt and peppered colored, but once the fur is blown into, four distinct bands of color will appear."

(from The Livestock Conservancy website)

White Holland Turkeys

Breed Facts




Egg Color:
Pale cream to medium brown with spotting

Egg Size:

Market Weight:
16 - 25 lbs

"The White Holland was the most important white-feathered variety throughout most of American history. Despite this illustrious past, the white Holland is one of the rarest and most difficult to authenticate varieties today. The White Holland was the only commercial white variety in the first half of the 1900s. The White Holland’s advantage has been its lack of dark pinfeathers, and this trait often led to market advantage even though the birds were not as large as the Bronze.

The mutation to the white color (which is actually lack of color) is an ancient one. The Aztecs and others selectively bred white turkeys, and they were certainly among the stocks sent to Europe. In Austria and in Holland, white turkeys were favored. It is quite possible, though not documented that Dutch settlers or other European immigrants came to the New World with White turkeys. By the 1800s, a white variety – now called the White Holland in the show ring – was known in the United States. It was recognized by the American Poultry Association in 1874. The name White Holland implied Dutch origins for the variety but it is an American breed developed from white sports of the Bronze turkey variety. The White Holland became a popular variety, especially in New England holding its own well into this century. Though less numerous than the Bronze and smaller in size, the White Holland matured earlier and offered a cleaner carcass than dark colored birds.

Producers, however, came to want the best of both worlds – a large, white feathered variety. In the early 1950s, researchers at Cornell University and elsewhere in the United States began crossing the White Holland and Broad-breasted Bronze. By the 1960s, the Broad Breasted White (or Large White) had surpassed the Bronze for commercial production. This variety dominates the turkey industry today.

The White Holland as a distinctive and historic population is close to extinction. White Holland turkeys are seen occasionally at poultry shows, but they often have the wide breasts and short legs reflecting genetic influence from the Large White. The American Poultry Association both recognized this fact and confused the issue in 1983 when a change in the White Holland standard added the following: “May be referred to in commercial terminology as Broad-breasted Whites or Large Whites.” Thus the two varieties have merged, with the White Holland absorbed into the Large White. The same thing has occurred in Britain, with the lumping of all white varieties into a population called the “British White” turkey.
The White Holland turkey is showy in appearance, with snow white feathers and a red to bluish head. The beard is black, the beak is pink to horn colored and the throat and wattles are pinkish-white. Shanks and toes are pinkish-white, and eyes must be brown. The Standard weight for a young tom is 25 pounds and 16 pounds for a young hen."

Photo courtesy of Frank Reese Jr. 

(From The Livestock Conservancy website)

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