Follow this link to see our June newsletter and meet our researchers!
Recently at Hopland REC a few novel approaches have been taken to manage our flock of over 800 Western whiteface sheep. We share our landscape with numerous wildlife species and need many and varied tools in our toolbox to help protect them including fencing, guardian animals and mob grazing.
Take a look at this article in our local paper the Ukiah Daily Journal which covers some of the results so far...
Have you ever wondered where your wool sweater came from? Or just how to keep a 160lb sheep still enough to shear it? Join the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC) team and friends on Saturday, May 28th, 10am-2pm to get the answers to these and many more questions.
Expert shearer Matt Gilbert and owner of the new Ukiah wool mill will be offering demonstrations with a few of HREC's flock of over 800 western whiteface sheep working as his models! Visitors will also have the chance to see different kinds of wool from the fine, soft merino to the long, coarse Navajo-churros and to learn how they are graded.
Throughout the day Cathy Hessom, Beth Keiffer, Tim Easterbrook and Aleshanee Akin will introduce visitors to felting, spinning, weaving and knitting projects. California Conservation Corps members will also be giving us a new use for Kool-Aid, using it to dye wool! Stories of sheep ranching in Mendocino will be offered by Jean Near, who at 101 years old has plenty of experiences to recount.
If you'd like to get a little closer to a sheep, meet "Willy and Mitten", 2 of the extension centers sheep and you will even get the chance to see some of their friends being kept in line by Nancy Todd (Redwood Empire Sheepdog Association) and her sheepdog at 12pm for the sheepdog demonstration.
The day will provide opportunities for sheep farmers, fiber enthusiasts and families to get involved and learn more about every step of the process from sheep to sweater! Visitors will be welcomed to the HREC new conference hall, The Rod Shippey Building, and will have chance to picnic on the patio. “We can't wait to welcome the community to our beautiful site and to raise awareness of just one of the areas of research and education that we conduct up here. Our sheep are not only vital for the UC Cooperative Extension sheep shearing school but also for research into best management practices for rangelands and animal science,” commented Hannah Bird, HREC community educator.
Admission is $5 for adults, children under 12 are welcomed for free (online registration or checks preferred). HREC asks visitors to leave their pets at home to protect the site and the sheep resident there. Bring your own picnic and all utensils; some light food will be available. Visit http://ow.ly/4mSr1g to find out more and purchase your ticket. Barn to Yarn will be held at the Rod Shippey Hall, 4070 University Road, Hopland, CA 95449 from 10am-2pm on May 28th. For more information contact Hannah Bird, (707) 744-1424, Ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On December 1st and 2nd we enjoyed bringing together a group of over 60 workshop attendees from diverse perspectives, including researchers, regulatory bodies, environmental non-profits and community members to talk through the issues of ranching on a landscape rich in wildlife and the challenges associated with it.
"Living with Wildlife While Managing Working Landscapes" was a two day event. Day 1 was organized by USDA APHIS Wildlife Services and brought us on a journey through the research that has been conducted on control of predators, right up to the present day and the current methods available including non-lethal methods such as guardian animals and fladry.
Day 2 allowed time for further discussion in small groups and the chance to hear from Mendocino County producers about the responsibility they feel to keep their animals safe and healthy for the duration of their lives on the ranch.
The event was a great success, allowing deeper understanding of what is sometimes an over simplified topic with strong emotion attached to it. As one attendee put it "what I realize after this event is that I knew nothing of this subject before it!"
The answers are not simple and the information provided expressed that each ranch is different and will need a wide range of tools to deter predators from their stock. That toolkit may include a relationship with Wildlife Services and their local wildlife specialist alongside guardian animals, minimizing attractants, improved fencing and pasture rotation. HREC hopes to assist ranchers to understand the best methods available to them that make both ecological and economical sense for their ranch by providing a number of training opportunities in 2016.
You can view the agenda, available presentations and notes from the small group discussions up on our website now, by visiting: