Editor’s Note: PHASE 4 Learning Center, Inc. is very proud of the work we do, as we help our students to be successful in their school life and to make the transition to their future lives in the military, college/training, or employment. We are also very proud of our staff members, who have made it the mission of their careers to help our students be successful. These staff members each bring their unique perspectives and interests into their interactions with our students. As a tribute to the staff which makes PHASE 4 a success, from time to time we will be presenting web posts that highlight special achievements and accomplishments of individual staff members.
Navajo-Churro Sheep are considered a heritage breed of animal, descended from the Spanish Churra sheep which were brought to North America in 1598. During the late 1800’s, in an attempt to “civilize” the Navajo people, the U.S. Government slaughtered nearly all Navajo-Churro sheep. Subsequent breeding efforts have increased their numbers, but there are currently less than 5,000 Navajo-Churros in the world today and the breed is considered “threatened” by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy.
Navajo-Churro sheep are renowned for their hardiness and for their double coat of wool and hair. The wool can be spun and woven so tightly that it will retain water and is traditionally used by the Navajos to weave rugs and blankets. It can also be used to make outer clothing, cinches for saddles, belts, and can be used for felting. Navajo-Churro sheep are also used for meat and as dairy animals. Both rams and ewes can have horns, with some rams having up to 4 horns.
Outside of the office, PHASE 4 Director of Admissions, Holly Sell, is a breeder of Navajo-Churro sheep. The sheep farm Holly co-owns with her parents, Walks Far Acres, is nationally recognized for the high quality wool produced by their sheep, as well as the breeding stock they sell. The farm sells its products privately, and at the prestigious Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. This year, the Sells were honored to supply wool for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
Holly spins the farm’s wool into yarn with a drop-spindle (as opposed to the more commonly recognized spinning wheel), although she doesn’t spin often. She prefers, instead, to spend her time managing the flock directly and working with the animals. She has also written articles for sheep! Magazine.
Recently, a photo taken by Ed Sell, Holly’s Dad, won First Place in sheep! Magazine’s Photo Contest and was featured on the front cover of the September/October 2013 edition. Says Holly, “We had no idea it was chosen by the staff to be put on the cover–until it came.”
Congratulations to Holly and her parents, Suzanne and Ed Sell!
From sheep! Magazine:
The photo in First Place is a serene glimpse into the life of one of America’s best known Navajo-Churro sheep personalities, Holly Sell who has written articles for sheep! Photographer Ed Sell says these were “…some of our 2012 lambs having ‘story time.’ They aren’t bottle lambs, but they trust her and love the attention.” Attentive flockmasters find sheep management easier when they earn their flock’s trust like this.