Altomare Sheep Company
We got started raising
California Red Sheep because of a broken ankle.
Mike and I
were married in 1985 and had purchased a 110-year-old house in Dixon, CA. At first we tried remodeling it room by
room while continuing to live there, but it became apparent that the remodel would go better if the house could be
done all at once. My brother was moving from a home on 7 acres in Suisun, CA where we boarded our horses. Once we
moved in we realized that we had about ½ acre to do with as we pleased, so we fenced it in at first as a
One day while attending a
picnic in 1986, Mike broke his ankle playing football. On one visit to the hospital for a check up he picked up a
California Farmer magazine and flipped through it. In the back were ads for sheep. We had discussed getting sheep
so he took down two phone numbers, one for a Finn breeder and the other CA Red Sheep. The Finn sheep people never
answered their phone, but Alice Gardner did.
We were invited out to see
her place in Davis, CA and picked out two young ewes, SweetPea and Chloe. Later we went back and picked out two
more, Melanie and Juanita. Then she recommended we get a ram from Tom and Delyte Bair. Our first ram Tom had named
Booger. We then met Aime and Paulette Soulier and bought four young ewes Sophie, Mary, Hannah and Millicent. Later
we purchased several older ewes from them.
That same year Alice invited
us to a CA Red Sheep Meeting and we were duly elected as board members, eventually I became the Registrar and Mike
has been on the board ever since. We have been through the growing stages of the registry with the incorporation
and establishing the registry requirements. We helped to promote the breed by showing at California State Fair,
where we organized as many breeders as possible to have our own CA Red Sheep category listing with the Fair. For
three years we organized and coordinated this event until politics became too much for our grassroots breed. We
never wanted to be a show breed, but the competitive atmosphere from the other sheep breeds eventually steamrolled
our friendly values and forced us to leave this venue before corruption set in. The Fair board wanted us since we
were a big draw for the public since we allowed the public to touch our sheep and we took stall space and had
hands-on public displays of spinning, weaving and sheep education.
After we finally got our own
personal computer and ventured on the Internet I stumbled upon the Oklahoma State University Breed Web Site and
submitted the CA Red Sheep Breed to their list. After that success it was only a matter of time when I ventured
into asking our Internet provider to let me use my personal web space for the CA Red Sheep Registry Web site. The
rest is history.
Mike and I moved in 1988 to Turlock, CA and then about a year later to our property in Merced,
CA. At one point we had about 60 breeding ewes. Our most memorable ram was Rhett. 217 Rhett was born on
3/25/89 and was put down in the fall of 1999. He sired 96 registered ewes and 9 registered rams. Another great
ram was 926 Idaho which passed away in late 2004.
We have had so many memorable
ewes that I will list our favorites: 74 Sophie, 12 Maude, 86 Millicent, 87 Hannah, 124 PattyCake, 190 Holly, 205
Daphne, 466 Elouise and 631 Leah. Leah (born 04/04/94) has been remarkable because she has consistently produced
registerable ewe lambs. Out of 19 lambs she has produced 10 reg. Ewes and 1 reg. Ram (her current twins are ram
lambs born in April 2004). She has had one single and 9 twins.