This is nice ... Padula works off-ranch, as so many sheepmen and others in ag/ranching do. The grounds at Padula's place of employment are not lawnmower-friendly. So ... Bob's sheep are perfect. Here is a photo and some text Bob sent:
"Here are some pictures of the sheep grazing areas of our facility to keep the grass and weeds down. Lots of it is not conducive to mowing, and the sheep are able to graze in between frames for moving houses. Also, some of the plants the sheep eat are considered noxious weeds, meaning if you do not control them to stop the spread - “government will” and they will fine and charge you for the cost."
As of March 12, 2022 shearing has begun at PM Ranch! This fiber is part of Batch 9.
When we decided to pursue WeatherWool, we knew enough to know we didn't know much ... although we did not know how much we did not know! One of the first things we did was retain the services of Bob Padula, who is now a WeatherWool Advisor, available to assist our customers.
Bob is a lifelong sheep-man and is our wool consultant. We told Bob what we wanted to do -- make the best-performing, pure-American woolen outerwear we could figure out how to make -- and lucky for us, he understood what we were about. Perhaps more importantly, he is an internationally known wool consultant who has the knowledge and the contacts that we needed. Bob is also a Minnesota rancher and outdoorsman, so he has plenty of experience with tough conditions, and he knows what it is like when your clothes are not up to what Nature is dishing out.
Padula is not so much a sheep rancher as he is a breeder and developer of breeding stock. The PM Ranch sells wool, but that is not what PM is about. What Padula really does produce is sheep that grow superior wool, and then sell breeding stock to ranchers that are looking to improve their bloodlines. So although PM does sell wool, the wool is really the proof of PM bloodlines rather than Padula's real product. It is a source of pride for us, and I hope for Padula too, that our garments are made from such stock.
We visited PM Ranch and the Padula Family in 2011 (WOW, the years have flown by!!), and very much enjoyed our time there. It was also great to see that PM, like WeatherWool, is very much a family operation.
The PM Ranch House, with the Barn on the Right.
When we visited, this brown field was full of sheep.
Below are three of PM's Breeding Rams
The photo below shows, if you look carefully, the natural crimp of woolen fiber. Also, the outer, apparent color of the wool is much darker than the color of the majority of the fiber.
The next photos show several stages in shearing at PM:
Above and below are pictures of PM Sheep. The natural color of the sheep is essentially indistinguishable from the color of the tall grass.
Above and below are shots of a controlled burn Padula implemented to rejuvenate the pastures in spring. As Padula explained, “Removing all the old, dead material allows for more lush growth and habitat. We can't just let the fires burn everything anymore like the prairies did in the old days, so we use controlled burning to enhance the land and provide valuable habitat for the sheep and wildlife.” There are also people who believe strongly that controlled burns, as practiced by earlier generations, was also very effective in suppressing the population of ticks.
Lambs from 2017 season.
In July of 2022, Debby and Ralph spent a couple of days with Bob and Samantha Padula and their daughter Madelaine. We helped (really, we mostly watched!) while they vaccinated, de-wormed and weighed the flock of 220 rams, ewes and lambs.
Debby urging a lamb to continue along the chute to Padula, who will apply the treatments and call out the weight to be recorded (in this case, by me).
Here are links to other pages on PM Ranch:
PM Ranch in Winter (-30F/-34C)
One last neat point about PM Ranch. It sits astride the 45th parallel ... so it is exactly midway between the Equator and the North Pole!
2 June 2023 --- Ralph