John Jewell and his family grew some of the fiber that we used to make the Fabric we have on hand now. Jewell Ranch produced the highest-price lot of wool we’ve ever bought ... $4.00 per pound, plus lab costs. Typical wool was going for $0.65 per pound.
As has become usual with our ranchers, John's family produces breeding stock, and the wool that he sells is the proof of his bloodlines, and breeding stock is his primary product.
John and GeorgAnn Jewell hosted my son Zack and me in January of 2016, and we took these pictures during that visit.
These beautiful mountains hold great danger for sheep. John has lost many sheep to coyotes, cougars and bears. All of these predators sometimes will kill, in a single incident, far more sheep than they can eat. Sometimes they kill sheep and not eat them at all. A cougar will grab a sheep, crush its skull, then just keep going from sheep to sheep, killing and killing and not eating anything.
John's guard dogs are large. A guard puppy greets son Zack, who is about to put on an Al's Anorak in Solid DUFF Color.
The sheep in this picture have just been crutched. That is, John has sheared the legs of the sheep. Every fleece has many different grades of wool. The best wool ... the only wool used in WeatherWool, comes from high on the sheep ... the back, sides, top of the head and neck. Fiber from the lower legs, belly, face and some other areas is inferior, and John shears his sheep in separate steps so lower quality fiber is removed and cannot contaminate the finest parts of the fleece.
Above and below are scenes from one of John's barns.
Below are some holding pens for sheep that are about to be sheared.
Above is the chute that leads to the barn where the shearing is actually performed.
This special table is used to handle the fleece after it is sheared off the sheep.
John tells Zack about shearing as they examine bags of fiber.
John likes to wear these ancient, battered moccasins while processing fleece.
Dog is man's best friend ... also sheep's best friend.
The biggest danger to these sheep are the coyotes that inhabit the area, and these large guard dogs can, if necessary, kill the ‘yotes. Cougars and bears are more than the dogs can be expected to fight, but the presence of the dogs will often cause these larger predators to go elsewhere. If the sheep are not protected, a predators will absolutely devastate the flock.
8 September 2016, updated 20 August 2017