Mendenhall Wool Ranch was started in 1980 when wool became the focus of our farm. That year we added 3 colored ewes to our small flock of sheep, in addition to the horses, cows, chickens, ducks and turkeys and of course children. Since then we have evolved into a specialty operation raising registered merino and natural colored sheep . Almost from the beginning our goal was to produce clean wool for the handspinner, and the first few years we were so successful that all I had left to spin were the skirtings. In 1994 we started covering our ewes with blankets and saw an immediate improvement in our wool quality. We started with a mixed flock of romneys and other breeds, and at one time we had over 250 sheep in blankets. We are starting to downsize now and have sold almost all of the crossbreds and romneys to focus on raising top quality merinos, with emphasis on uniform fine fleeces and correct conformation. We have shown our sheep as far east as Fryeburg, Maine, Maryland, and Louisville, Kentucky. Out west as far north as Puyallup, Washington and as far south to San Diego California and many shows in between.
We have lived in the small community of Loma Rica, California since 1978. It is situated 60 miles north, northeast of Sacramento and 20 miles northeast of Marysville. We are located in the lower Sierra foothills and the sheep spend most of their time on our 30+ acres of irrigated pasture. The sheep are supplemented with hay in the winter and grain at lambing time. They are protected by a 9 wire electric fence and pastures are cross fenced with 4-7 electric wires. Intensive grazing is used to manage the grass.
Sixty percent of our ewes will lamb on pasture in early fall when the weather is still mild. The rest will lamb in January and February. Ewes are usually shorn prior to lambing in the fall for cleanliness and to keep fleece breaks to minimum.
Our first merinos were colored and we had bought a few registered white ewes to bring in new bloodlines. In 1998 we found the white ram we had been looking for. We were interested in a line of merinos from South Australia that were designed to stand higher rainfall, with a longer staple length and low grease content resulting in a very high yield. Most of our fleeces have a 4+ inch staple length and are lustrous with a 64-80 spinning count or 17-21 micron count. Most of them will yield 70% or greater. They have always done well at the fairs, often the champions of their division and are sold rapidly. Our merino sheep are some of the top in the nation with several rams winning Supreme Champion Ram several times each year.
NATURAL COLORED MERINOS
We started our flock with a few crossbred Romney ewes and slowly added other fleece types. At one point we could offer our clients almost any color, in any fleece type. That has changed as we have specialized in the merinos. We still have lots of colors but in fine soft merino that will not itch. The colors range from black to shades of gray and spots. Also moorit, which is a brown color that ranges from dark brown to pale beige and can also be spotted.
Thank you for stopping by to learn more about us. To see our sheep, including some for sale, visit the Our Sheep page. Our current fleeces available for purchase are on the Fleece for Sale page. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach us by any of the methods listed below in our contact information. We are looking forward to speaking with you!