Sheep at Fred Robert’s farm are used to make wool for outdoor apparel. Photo: Jordan Brannock/ Farm to Feet
Fred Roberts’s sheep lead cold, hard lives. The herd of some 500 Rambouillet-Columbia ewes spend the winter on the prairies of southwestern Wyoming, where the wind can strip the paint off a Ford pickup. In the spring, they walk 300 miles north to their summer range in the mountains near Jackson, which can see snowfall just about any day of the year.
But there’s an upside to the harsh American West: the sunny, arid climate spurs the animals to produce small-diameter wool fibers that can make a merino-grade garment. “American wool is loftier,” says Rita Samuelson, marketing director of the American Wool Council. “It tends to be spongy, due to a combination of genetics, nutrition, and environmental conditions.”
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