Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why Shear in the Winter

Our 2010 Shearing Day is in early February. February offers some of the coldest weather potential. Some have asked why we shear our sheep in the Winter months. It seems like the sheep would get so cold without their wool. There's actually good reasons for shearing in late Winter.

Before the reasons, however, did you know the sheep get much of their cold weather protection from their fat and from the heat produced from digestion of the food they eat during the cold weather? Sure, the long wool helps, but it is not their entire protection. As long as they go into Winter with a good layer of fat, receive an adequate supply of nutritious food, and have shelter from the wind, they do quite well.

So why shear in February? The chief answer to the question: it helps with lambing! Lambing begins in earnest in mid-February.

Without their long wool:

1)  The ewes will seek shelter when it gets cold or snowy. When they seek shelter, they bring their lambs with them to the shelter! If the ewes were wooly, they wouldn't feel the cold as much, and the lambs (who are born with only a modest length of wool) would suffer.

2)  The lambs can find their mother's milk supply easier ... the long wool doesn't get in the way!

Rachel with her napping lamb, Betsy (March 2008)

Winter Arrives

December ushered in the first real cold blast of Winter to Grace Valley Farms. The coldest temperature we've seen, so far, is minus 18 degF ! Brrrr! Right now, we have 3-4 inches of snow on the ground and the nearby Beartooth Mountains are sporting their snowy crests.

The sheep are all decked out in their God-given wool coats, so the cold doesn't seem to bother them, too much. Give them a supply of the good quality Grace Valley Farms hay and a little shelter from the wind, and they are content. As you can see from the photos, the Romney and Romney-cross sheep are looking rather fluffy. Some of them look like cotton balls with legs!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wool Prediction Photos for 2010 Shearing

To give you a more definitive idea of what to expect from our upcoming 2010 shearing, we have posted recent photos of wool-under-the-coat for our Romney and Romney-cross sheep. You can see the photos by clicking on the sheep's name in the list to the right.  Each member has two sample photos of the fleece after the coat has been removed: (1) outside appearance of the fleece, and (2) parted wool. The captions for the photos also give information on predicted staple length ranges (at the February 2010 shearing) and a description of the color ranges.

The outside appearance pics show the color which can be expected on the outside ¼ to ½-inch of the fibers. You can also see the presence of the soft nubbins on the lambs.  An example is shown below, from our lamb, Cathy.  You can see the Moorit (true brown) tendencies she inherited from her mother, Carrie.

Outside Appearance of Cathy's Fleece

The parted wool photos reveal the predominant color(s) ranges for each sheep. Also reflected in these pictures are the extent of crimping and waviness. Although difficult to pick up in photos, some of the shots will give you an idea of the luster, too.  Here's an example of Bluebell's parted wool.  Her color is a striking black with silver threads.

Bluebell's Parted Wool

As we examined the wool from our flock members, we were pleased to see and feel the beauty, variety, and softness. It is especially gratifying to see the quality of Edison’s wool being passed on to his lambs. Some of the lambs may even be surpassing their father!

We hope you enjoy looking at the photos.  For your reference, unless otherwise indicated, the sheep in the photos are all full-blooded Romney.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Introducing Foreman !

Grace Valley Farms welcomed Foreman to our flock in October 2009.


He is a registered pure-bred Romney ram from Peeper Hollow Farm. His conformation is excellent; in addition, he is noted for his relatively large size, wool quality, and white wool genetics.


 We are looking forward to adding his white genetics to that of the naturally-colored genetics from our established flock ram, Edison.

2010 Fleece Availability

Our Romney and Romney-cross sheep are sporting some very nice looking wool suits, these days! With shearing planned for early February, almost 80% of the wool growth has already occurred.



We plan to begin posting pictures and descriptions of the on-sheep fleeces soon, to give readers an idea of what offerings will be available. The pics can be found in the photo gallery portion of this web site.

Quality Romney Wool

The Meyer Family, owners and caretakers of Grace Valley Farms, are committed to providing you premium products. We want you to be delighted in your purchase.

Grace Valley Farms is nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Beartooth Mountains of southern Montana. The air is clean and invigorating and the scenery breathtaking. Grace Valley Farms is the home of a flock of pure-bred Romney and Romney-cross sheep. Romney sheep were selected as the main breed line for the quality of their wool, their natural colors, rugged endurance, pleasing appearance, and other fine traits.

Romney wool is noted for easy hand-spinning, high luster, and low lanolin-content. Our fleeces are available in an array of natural colors, from white, cream, silver, and charcoal to nearly jet black. Their classic, comfortable colors are pleasing to the eye and always in style.  Our flock ram, Edison, was awarded Reserve Champion at the Heart of America Wool Festival for his lamb wool. We have been pleased to see the quality of his wool passed on to his lambs.  In 2009, we added Foreman, a second breeding ram to our flock;  his lambs will join our flock in 2010.

Our sheep are not just numbers to us; although not quite family members, we name each of them and call them by their names.

Twin sisters, Rachel and Katelin, enjoy a meal on our pastures

The usual docile animals are a source of hard-work, pleasure, and comfort for our family. The flock at Grace Valley Farms feeds on high-quality forage grown right here on our farm and from the neighboring hills. The pastures and hay fields were prepared and seeded with a wide variety of grasses, legumes, and forbs to provide optimal nutrition with minimal off-farm inputs. The fields are irrigated with melting snow from the pristine Beartooths. The combination of attentive shepherding, quality forage, clean water, and plenty of room for exercise are allowing us to begin transitioning our flock from conventional management methods to chemical-free.