The Story of the Five Marys Flock of Sheep
I love sharing our story about how we got our big, beautiful flock of Navajo Churro sheep…
We started out with some Navajo Churro ewes and three beautiful rams. We were really happy with the meat quality and this hearty, fairly wild breed that did well on our pasture without needing much assistance in lambing. I was on the hunt for a few more to add to our small flock of 30, and maybe a new ram… but, Navajo Churro sheep are not easy to come by.
When I found a listing in an old PDF directory on the Navajo Churro Association website, I figured this AOL address was probably no longer in use, but I emailed it anyway. A very sweet lady named Linda Hussa called me immediately and said, ‘Oh yes, we have Churros… beautiful ones! And a lot of them! Why don’t you come on out to Surprise Valley next week and you can see them.’
So with Brian ‘slightly’ on board with the idea of buying a few more sheep – I set off by myself to the Hussa homestead one morning. It was about a 5 hour drive and I arrived around 11 AM. John and Linda had a beautiful property at the end of a dirt road and a modest home with a giant woodstove for cooking and heat. They invited me in to chat.
I hadn’t seen any sheep yet and they suggested we have lunch before going to see them. I graciously accepted and walked around the corner to a full table set with their finest plates and a full leg of lamb cooking on the stove. I realized then this visit may take awhile!
We had a lovely 2 hour lunch and as I was thinking maybe now we’d go see the sheep, Linda asked if I enjoyed biscuits. I assumed she’d made some for dessert and said ‘Oh, yes – I do!’ Sweet Linda reached up for the flour jar to start making biscuits… this is when I realized I might not be getting home before dark 🙂
We finally set off to see the sheep… Linda riding side-saddle on the back of John’s four wheeler. They were indeed a beautiful flock – one they’d been breeding and raising for over 30 years! A very rare collection of pure Navajo Churro sheep. It was then they asked me if instead of just taking a few, if we’d take the whole darn flock. They were getting older and just wanted to keep their favorites. They hadn’t found a good home and couldn’t bear putting them on a truck for the auction. It was an honor and would be a privilege of course – an opportunity we wouldn’t find again! So of course, I said yes. I knew I had a long drive home along to figure out just how I was going to break the news to Brian!
We brought them home in a semi-hauler and welcomed 307 new ewes and most of their lambs to Five Marys. They were so beautiful out on our pastures! Our cattle fencing was held up for cattle – but not as much for sheep. Sheep love to get out. This flock was finding every hole in the fence possible and getting out on a daily basis!
Brian would come in from working and jokingly say, ‘Your damn sheep got out again!’ So much that the girls started calling them ‘Momma’s Damn Sheep….’ and the name stuck!
In the end, we needed a flock this big to provide enough lamb for our growing operation and to keep some diversity in meats with the boxes we’d provide to our customers.
We are proud stewards of this beautiful flock of Navajo Churro sheep that John and Linda Hussa spent many years growing and taking care of.