The Innes Ranch, of Gillette, Wyoming, is the source of the single largest purchase WeatherWool has ever made (as of 2022). Innes provided about one third of the fiber of our Batch 9, which is about twice the size of our previous-largest batch.
Debby and I visited the Innes Ranch in July of 2022, and we thank Bob and Kirsten Innes for their kind hospitality and for the information they related to us about their sheep and wool and the industry in general.
Bob Innes will be double-checking my memory on the details, but if I remember right, the Innes Ranch dates back to the late 1800s, when Bob's grandfather immigrated to the USA from Scotland (where they surely love wool) and homesteaded (founded) the Ranch.
We have spoken with a few ranchers in Wyoming, and it seems the usual practice in Wyoming is to apply paint to the sheep for easy identification of ownership. When sheep from different ranches are mixed on Open Range (public land open to grazing, and Wyoming has a lot of it!), ranchers and shepherds need an easy way to determine ownership.
But for many of us who purchase fine wool, paint is a problem because it may not be removed by the scouring process, and that can cause problems downstream. Bob Innes has been mindful of these problems, and does not paint his sheep. Bob surprised me when he said he can easily tell his sheep from others just by looking. But Bob has lived on and worked the Innes Ranch his entire life -- he was 70 when we visited -- and so he sees things others do not.
The Innes clip has a very strong nationwide reputation for fine wool and fine meat. They have been carefully breeding Targhee (a breed developed by the US Department of Agriculture near Targhee, Idaho) for many years. Innes sheep need to be very robust to handle the difficult Wyoming range conditions. High winds and serious cold in winter (-20F/-29C is routine, and it gets as cold as -40F/-40C) and real heat in summer (100F/38C) is to be expected. Their wool enables the sheep to withstand these conditions without shelter.
Kirsten Innes, on the Innes Ranch, in her WeatherWool CPO Shirt in MidWeight Lynx Pattern. When this photo was taken, the temp was about 104F/40C, and Kirsten said she felt less heat when she put the CPO over her regular summer shirt. Wool does a creditable job of keeping heat out and providing shelter from the strength of the sun's rays. It also provides significant UV protection.
More info and photos to come.
27 July 2022 --- Ralph