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Tarrytown's Stone Barns Celebrates Chinese New Year With Sheep Of Its Own

The sheep at Stone Barns gearing up for Chinese New Year. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Stone Barns has 59 sheep and two rams. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
There has been debate over whether it's the year of the sheep, goat or ram. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
The sheep are grass fed. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Stella and Stanley help guard the sheep at Stone Barns. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- At the Stone Barns Center For Food And Agriculture in Tarrytown, it's always the Year of The Sheep.

Chinese New Year began Thursday night, welcoming in the Year of the Sheep, though there has been some debate over whether it's the Year of the Goat or Ram.

According to the New York Times, the word for the eighth animal in the Chinese zodiac’s 12-year cycle of creatures, yang in Mandarin, does not make the distinction in English between goats and sheep.

Throughout China, various organizations have been honoring rams, sheep, goats or a combination of the three.

At Stone Barns, the Finn-Dorest sheep take center stage. The sheep are herbivores and eat almost six inches of grass in a day. Almost 90 lambs are born at the farm each year. While the sheep are bred for meat, Stone Barns uses their wool for yarn, socks and blankets.

The sheep have two guard dogs who protect them from predators like coyotes. 

Stone Barns is also gearing up for its 11th annual Sheep Shearing Fest 2015 on April 25. The event helps mark the end of winter as the sheep are able to leave the barnyard and are put out to pasture until November. Tickets for the event go on sale Feb. 25.

Craig Haney, the livestock farm director at Stone Barns, said the farm currently has 59 sheep and two rams. The sheep use their time in the barn to breed.

"Our sheep are 100 percent grass fed," Haney said. "The Northeast has great grass."

Haney said he likes the idea of celebrating the Year of the Sheep.

"I'm fond of sheep," Haney said. "I like their disposition." 

The sheep at Stone Barns have their own social structure and will occasionally butt heads to establish a hierarchy. Those lowest on the totem pole usually get to eat hay last.

Haney said sheep are typically not named at Stone Barns, though the are tagged on their left ear.

The Year of the Sheep is generally considered to mean a year of promise and prosperity. 

According to, people born in the Year of Sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty and a special fondness for quiet living.

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