Sheep

RamsNavajo-Churro sheep are North America’s earliest domesticated farm animal–small, hardy, and smart (for sheep), they live light on the land. They have low levels of lanolin so their wool is more easily worked, and their meat is unusually tasty. However, at only half the size of commercially-bred sheep, economics has been against them.

Brought to New Mexico’s Rio G14GlowingSheeprande Valley in the 16th Century by the Spanish, these sheep descend from the ancient Iberian Churra breed. Five hundred years ago the Navajos repeatedly stole Churras from the Spanish conquistadors, and when the breed vanished in Europe, it survived with the Navajos. The sheep became central to native culture and thrived in the mountains of New Mexico. They are the reason Navajo weaving became famous. Their long-staple fiber is excellent for outerwear, blankets, and floor coverings; it is very durable, and takes colors well. Contact us if you are interested in skeins of yarn or washed fleeces. Natural Churro wool color varies from sheep to sheep—lots of white, but also beautiful tans, browns, and blacks. The yarn we sell is a natural light tan color. Skeins are $12.00, washed fleeces (about 10 lbs.) are $60.

We started with sheep mainly to keep our pastures and fields open, but soon realized that 4-5 sheep couldn’t keep 35 acres of fields trimmed. The cost of winter feed (mainly hay—20 bales per sheep) meant that a flock of 20+ would be expensive, so we had the dilemma facing most farmers—how to make animals a viable economic proposition. We decided we were happy to trade our labor for clear fields and the satisfaction of raising sweet animals, BUT we needed to cover the direct costs. We bring in marginal revenue with the wool, but our best income thus far has been from the meat.

Navajo-Churro is regarded by many chefs as the most desirable breed when it comes to lamb or mutton. The unusually low lanolin levels translate to excellent taste. We raise our sheep on grass and local hay and allow them to range through the 8 pastures on our farm. At 9-14 months of age we deliver them live to an excellent local, USDA-inspected butcher. We offer the meat frozen, minimum orders of ½ lamb (about a 12 lb. mix of typical cuts–roasts, chops, ground, etc., separately wrapped packages, mostly 1-2 lb.). We sell mainly to direct customers via phone and internet, with pick-up at the farm, or we will deliver locally for a modest fee. We do not ship out of the area. When supplies permit, we also supply the Wild Oats Market and restaurants in Williamstown. Our farm-direct retail price is $15.00/lb. Though we usually sell out, we are always looking for new customers. Please advise us of your interest and your email as far in advance as possible, and we will add you to the list to receive our availability bulletins.

The Year for Sheep at Sky Dance Farm:

Mar/April May/June July September Nov/December
Lambs born

Check all fencing

Muck barn

Shearing

Pastures open

Last lambs born

Hay in

Barn closed

Separate young Rams/ewes Breeding

Snow?

Barn open,

Pastures closed

If you want to visit the sheep, best times are 8:00-8:30 a.m. and 5:00-5:30 p.m.