From the beginning of our monastery, sheep have off and on been part of the mix. Our founding Prior, Father Aelred Wall (1917-1984), had Suffolk sheep here, a popular breed in the 1960s, prized especially for their meat. The vintage photo below shows an early herd of Suffolk sheep in front of our church.
More recently we have acquired Navajo-Churro sheep, part of the New Mexico scene for some five centuries, having come from Spain by way of the Middle East.
Navajo-Churros are hardy animals for this high desert setting, producing fine fleeces that are spun into yarn for weaving and other fiber arts.
Franciscan friars in the American Southwest brought and raised the breed in the 1500s, but most especially the Navajo people cultivated the breed over the succeeding centuries. The Navajo’s have a saying: Sheep Is Life, since they are a vital part of survival, creative work and the spiritual life.
At present at Christ in the Desert we are using the Navajo-Churro sheep as an excellent source of wool for weaving rugs.