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Merino Sheep

About 4 years ago, Wendy got the wild idea that wool might be a great addition to the alpaca fiber when processing into yarn. Many spinners and fiber artists love a little wool for 'loft' and 'memory' in yarn.  This was a really consistent comment heard when discussing alpaca yarns.  After consulting with fiber artsits, Wendy started reading about  & researching sheep breeds.  There are 2 types of alpacas; the Suri (silky 'dreadlock' type fleece) and the Huacaya (fluffy) - easy!  However, sheep....well, there are a zillion breeds of sheep. It was such a daunting search, that years went by before she felt she knew the right breed to go with.  Initially it appeared that Babydoll Southdown would win, mostly due to the 'cute' factor being extreme, and their fuzzy faces really looked like minature alpaca faces in some regards. However, after 2 more years of casual research, it was the Merino that won the invitation to join us at Peaceful Prairie Ranch.

Quite simply, Merino wool is the finest wool.  period.  When we found the right Merino breeding stock with elite fleece, we knew it was the right fiber to compliment our alpaca yarns, rovings and products without diminishing the fineness of alpaca.

Peaceful Prairie Ranch Merinos come from a Nationally known, award-winning flock in Northern California.   There was a bit of logistics to work out for their arrival, as most farmers dont import just a few sheep from afar.  After our first shearing of the Merino sheep, and seeing the fleece that had been under those coats, we were hooked!  Next came a black Merino pair and a proven bred ewe who kindly taught us just what it takes to raise sheep.  She would loudly remind me that they required alfalfa... Grass Hay that alpacas solely exist on was not going to close the deal for these sheep!  She kindly delivered a single ram lamb and did everything right so we could feel more confident in managing sheep.

There are many similarities in raising both alpacas and sheep, but the differences are keeping us on our toes!  Sheep eat a lot more, and are loud!  We were used to the 'alpaca stare' - they just look right at you and stare until you understand the need... Sheep yell at you.  Sheep cause us to reflect on whether we need many more acres as a buffer for neighbors or fear a 'noise complaint'.  Sheep poop everywhere, alpacas pick a spot or two and only mess that area up.  Sheep can shear double what an alpaca shears in fleece.  Without a doubt, we like the addition of Merinos to the ranch!

Updated March 10, 2016