Mullens receive distinguished service award

Staff Writer

FREDERICK, Md. (Dec. 1, 2015) — The Mullen family of Thurmont, Md., was given the Distinguished Service Award, during the Frederick County Sheep Breeders Annual Meeting and Banquet on Nov. 6, at Dutch’s Daughter Restaurant.
Originally from New Jersey, Barbara said she and her late husband, Sam, to whom she was married for 47 years, moved around quite a bit with Sam’s job with IBM before finally settling in Maryland.
They had shown dogs but when they moved to Maryland, they “sort of fell into sheep,” Barbara said.
“Our daughter, Karren wanted an animal and we got her a goat named Heidi, and then two horses and a steer.”
And then Sam went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival when it was held in Carroll County, and bought a lamb, “which we raised and ate,” Barbara said.
“Sheep worked for us real well here,” she said.
The Mullen farm, named Little Creek Farm because of the small creek that runs through the property, is located in a scenic valley beside the Catoctin Mountains and consists of almost four acres with a small barn that Barbara said is “just right for lambing,“ according to Barbara.
They buy all their feed and flocks vary from 15 to 30 head. They also sell registered stock.
“We cut back some when Sam died,” she said. “We used to sell a lot to 4-Hers and we’re getting back into that again. We always believed that 4-Hers need to make money with their projects, that that’s the object in the end, so we always try to help by keeping costs down.”
The family has raised several breeds including Suffolks, Cheviots, Hampshire and Southdowns.
Both daughters, Karren Sowell, who was the National Cheviot Queen when she was 17, Sharron Pilson and Karren’s son, Konnor, have been in 4-H.
“My son, Timothy, who was active in the Boy Scouts, never showed in 4-H,” Barbara added. Although he appreciates the livestock, he didn’t want to raise them,” Barbara said.
Sharron has Dorper sheep, a South African hornless hair breed, that doesn’t have to be sheared and is bred mainly for their lean meat.
“We’ve always believed families should do things together and we now have three generations working with the farm and the fourth, a five year old, starting out by sweeping out the barn,” she said, smiling.
At this point, Karren and Konnor are doing most of the showing but the whole family has been involved in various ways over the  years.
They have shown at a number of shows including the North American International Livestock Exposition in Louisville, Ky., the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, New Jersey State Fair, All-American Junior Show in Massachusetts, Keystone International, the Montgomery County Fair, and The Great Frederick Fair.
They have also worked with various shows and organizations. Sam was a Boy Scout Leader and announcer at sheep shows, and Barbara has judged, and was instrumental in getting trophies given at Frederick, besides working with the Maryland Sheep Queen Contest and the Sheep and Wool Festival Committee and several other committees
Karren has worked with and chaired the Sheep and Wool Festival’s poster contest and various other committees and events including the sheep and wool display, which she has chaired the past eight years, and this year had 41 different breeds on exhibit.
At the NAILE at Louisville, this year, the Mullens had a 6th place Southdown yearling ewe, Lady, at what was the largest Southdown Show held there, with 358 head shown.
Barbara, who also drives a school bus for Frederick County Public Schools said she was “shocked and surprised”  at the Distinguished Service Award.
“I consider myself extremely lucky with this family I have, this farm, and these sheep,” she said.