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California Red Sheep Registry, Inc.

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TOM BAIR - Elverta RanchCalifornia Red Sheep founding breeder, Tom Bair

Tom Bair was born in Arcata, California on the 27th of May 1910. Arcata, home of the Hoopa Indians is situated in Humbolt County in northern California. The Bair family and the Hoopa Indian Tribe shared the beauty of the California Redwoods, the seashore, as well as the ravages of tuberculosis. Hundreds of white men and Indians died during these times; including both parents of two year old Tom Bair.

 Tom bounced around the 50,000 acre sheep, cattle, horse and mule ranch owned by his family accepting guidance and care from whom ever cared to give it. A particularly fond caretaker was a Chinese man named Charlie Moon.

 At thirteen years of age Tom was sent to boarding school. For Tom, academics were not a real strength, but football was. Every summer Tom returned to his beloved Hoopa country to help with the 10,000 ewes, 12,000 cattle and 500 horses and mules.

 The Bair ranch was located 25 miles from Arcata and the ocean. The sheep and wool were shipped from Arcata to San Francisco by boat. The shepherds on horseback drove the sheep that grazed on front yard petunias and roses along the way. This was such a long parade that the lead sheep were on board ship before the last sheep had entered the town five miles away.

 Tom graduated from high school and received a football scholarship to the University of California, Berkeley. His major was physical education and he added professional boxing to his physical prowess. The motion picture industry snagged Tom and got not only a boxer, but an assistant director and screenwriter as well. He maintained his own Rancho Cortez, renting out horses, mules, stagecoaches, buggies and all the trappings that made great western movies.

 With the beginning of World War II, Tom enlisted in the Army. Although he volunteered for the Airborne, he ended up in the last graduating class of the Cavalry School. He also spent time in North Africa and Italy serving in the Infantry.

 After the war, Tom went back to Hollywood for a short time. He then returned to Arcata and what remained of the family ranch. Tom ran two dairies and a 2000 lamb feedlot operation.

 In 1964, after running for State Assemblyman, he was hired by the Governor of California, Pat Brown, to be Chief of the Division of Fairs and Expositions/Assistant Director of Food and Agriculture for the State of California. This necessitated a move, so Tom and his wife Delyte purchased an 80 acre ranch in Elverta, just north of Sacramento. They began their livestock operation with shorthorn cattle, Tom's first love. Next, they added Thoroughbred horses. After a few years they began to add sheep and chose the Suffolk breed. Just about the time that the flock reached 100 head problems began to arise. A veterinarian diagnosed scrapie and the entire flock had to be destroyed.

 From 1968 to 1973, Tom served as Manager of Cal Expo, the California State Fairgrounds and Racetrack in Sacramento. During this time, he assisted in the forming of the Quarter Horse Registry.

 California Red Sheep Ram Registry 324 C-ZarTom retired in 1977. Little did he realize that he was getting ready for his next challenge, the California Red Sheep Registry. Delyte Bair, a beautiful redhead of Norwegian descent, his best friend and his typist too, heard of the Red sheep and asked Tom if they could try a few of this new breed. Tom agreed. He dutifully went to the two existing ranches, paying money for culls and ovine personality problems and I'm sure gritting his teeth the whole way. Within a couple of years Tom had a top notch flock of California Reds and was impressed with their gentleness, ease of lambing and vigor. Delyte loved their flock, and the two had fun naming their sheep after friends, relatives and boxers. Within another couple of years, the Bairs had a large Red flock and an outstanding line-up of rams.

Under the Bairs professional guidance and encouragement the California Red Sheep Registry was established in 1985. Their experience alerted the membership to the pitfalls of a registry and the importance of maintaining strict criteria for registration. In 1990 the Bairs guided the membership through incorporation.

 In 1991, Delyte Bair passed away from cancer. Tom continued to reside at his Elverta ranch with his three dogs, a couple of horses and Dolly, his parrot. Tom's kitchen table is strewn with paper containing the stories and poems that he has written and continues to write. Many of these are printed in the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly.

 We are proud to continue the ageless and noble heritage of shepherds caring for their flock and we are committed to continue this tradition with our California Red Sheep Registry, Incorporated.

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