In 2013 Andrew and Kristen Ritson-Bennett purchased a flock of Black Welsh Mountain Sheep from a lovely lady in southern Saskatchewan. In the long overnight drive back from Gull Lake Saskatchewan "Athenry" (ATH-EN-RYE) Farm was born!
We have always had the passion to farm, even if that means it has to be on a small scale. Andrew owns a busy mixed animal Veterinary practice, and Kristen is a ruminant nutritionist and owns a premix plant in Central Alberta. With our busy life, low-input sheep farming is the perfect fit for us.
Have you ever read the book Beautiful Sheep? Well, let me tell you, on the last page of the book is a breed listed called the Black Welsh Mountain Sheep. A Google search led us to NEWLAND RANCH as a breeder of the rare Black Welsh. After several emails and a 7 hour trip in a snowstorm to Saskatchewan to "take a look" the decision was made. We were going to be to owners of a Black Welsh Flock. We can tell you, they have not been a disappointment, and they truly are beautiful!
We have often been asked why we have called our farm "Athenry" pronounced ATH-EN-RYE. Athenry is a town in County Galway, Ireland. There is a very large population of hill breeds in County Glaway as the mountainous terrain is well suited to "hill sheep" such as ours. The town is also well known by virtue of the song "The Fields of Athenry" (Click on the link to hear the song). The song has always resonated with us, and with Kristen's history of working in Ireland, it was perfect.