In this episode, shepherd and Diné fiber artist Roy Kady talks about the importance and traditions of the Navajo-Churro sheep breed, flock management, fiber arts and more.
Recorded on Winter Solstice (in the Northern hemisphere), Roy explains the importance of solstice in Diné lifeways. Learn about the Slow Food USA Navajo-Churro Sheep Presidium, a group created to support and promote endangered foodways—in this case, this rare breed of sheep. Roy tells us what it means to have just 5,000 registered Navajo-Churro sheep and the breed’s their meat, fiber and hardiness characteristics that make them great sheep for a small farm. (Did you know that when managed on range, these sheep can seek out and forage the plants with the properties they need to keep them healthy?)
Hear about Roy’s own flock; what he means when he says, “they manage us”; and the seasonal and rotational grazing methods used in his community. Roy explains how responsible grazing improves the soil. He also offers his advice for breeding and culling sheep to maintain and improve a healthy flock.
Roy tells a story about his family’s history in fiber arts and his own work with wool, from weaving to felting to dying with natural dyes, as well as incorporating nontraditional fibers. Listen until the end to hear about Diné creation stories of the Navajo-Churro sheep and a quick excerpt from a Diné sheep song.
- Slow Food USA Navajo-Churro Sheep Presidium
- About Navajo-Churro Sheep on The Livestock Conservancy
- The Navajo Lifeway (Diné Bé’Iiná)
- Navajo-Churro Sheep Association
- Navajo Sheep Project