Trade Tips

Farm & Ranch Living - - THE WAY WE LIVE THE LAGERS -

With­out su­pe­rior wool, the Helle fam­ily couldn’t have cre­ated Duck­worth. Here are a few ways Evan Helle says it cre­ates some of the coun­try’s finest fleece.

Watch the Wool

There’s no scratch fac­tor with wool from Helle sheep. The fam­ily bred the itch­i­ness out with the help of the OFDA 2000. The Op­ti­cal-Based Fiber Di­am­e­ter An­a­lyzer mea­sures wool’s aver­age fiber di­am­e­ter, which af­fects how soft it feels. The OFDA 2000 can cost $60,000 or more, but Evan says its use was crit­i­cal to his fam­ily’s suc­cess. Able to iden­tify which sheep had good wool, the Helles bred them with each other. In 10 years they had a flock of sheep with fibers soft enough to lie next to the skin.

Good Dogs

The Helles fa­vor the ca­nine breeds Ak­bash, Great Pyre­nees and Kan­gal to guard their sheep from moun­tain lions and wolves. Bor­der col­lies are an ir­re­place­able as­set for get­ting the band where they need to go, and Evan says you have to let them do their job. On one hike up a moun­tain, he had to do just that. “The band of sheep was hot on the tracks of an­other band and they were nearly go­ing to mix,” so he turned to an 8-month-old dog. “I had no other op­tion than to trust her, so I gave her the com­mand. She ran a quar­ter-mile in deep snow, turned the lead and brought the whole band back to me just in time.”

Keep it Clean

Con­tam­i­nated wool fetches a quar­ter of the price of clean. So the Helles prac­tice wise wool man­age­ment. “Don’t use polyester twine on your hay bales,” Evan says. “Lit­tle fibers from it can make it all the way to the yarn stage and break the yarn, or even get into the gar­ment. The big­gest con­tam­i­nant is hair, so keep your dogs, horses and cat­tle away when you’re shear­ing.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.