Authors Mels and Ruthanne Van der Laan
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After spending twenty seven years in the military and having to move every two or three years, I was looking forward to having my own place where I could get back to what I had done before I immigrated in 1955 from The Netherlands. That was farming; after successfully building a house, workshop and a few out buildings, it was great to get back on the land.

Our first opportunity to have hands on training in sheep came when a friend presented us with orphaned lambs to raise, this was the beginning of our commercial flock, consisting of Suffolk, Dorset, Romanoff and Rideau. The first lambing showed me how little you really know about raising these animals. I read anything about sheep, asked lots of question of other producers, who had been in the business for decades.

While sitting in the barn during lambing with my trusty sheep book, trying to figure out what am I doing, however after the first lambing you think that you have seen it all, not so. We have been in the sheep business for twenty plus years and we can't think of a year that we did not have something different happen during lambing season.

In the early nineties there was lots of talk about the Texel "Tesselaar" sheep from The Netherlands, Gordon Young had live Texels brought to Canada from Denmark in the eighties in partnership with others.

Gordon advised me if I ever had a chance to buy purebreds, get Texels. They are the future of the lamb industry. So when I planned a return vacation to Holland for the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Holland in 1995. My nephew, Johan took time off work so we could travel and visited Texel breeders through out Holland, as this was one of the high points on my agenda. The first stop was at my cousin Koos Hoogenvorst farm; he had a number of Texels, but could not help me to import embryos to Canada. He referred me to a breeder in Leidendorp, here upon my arrival Mr. Verkley had his animals' slick shorn, so I could see the muscularity or as I like to say the "double muscle", he ran about 75 Texels. I was extremely impressed with his sheep. We spent about five hours talking and gathering information; however he was unable to deliver what I wanted.

He in turn sent me to J.R. van Doorn in Zeeland, a place in the southern part of Holland called Axel. This was the start for us raising Texelaars at our ranch.