NAVAJO CHURRO SHEEP
"Known as the 'Chef's Choice' - the flavor of the meat is incomparably superior, with a surprisingly low fat content."
Navajo-Churro sheep are descendants of the Churra, the very first breed of domesticated sheep in the New World. Its importation to New Spain by the Spanish dates back to the 16th century where it was used to feed and clothe the armies of the conquistadors and Spanish settlers.
The Navajo-Churro sheep boasts many valuable traits. The meat is lean with a distinctive, sweet flavor. In addition to quality meat production, these sheep provide abundant milk and have a highly desirable dual fiber fleece. The sheep is hardy, living lightly on the land and requiring less water and forage than other sheep. The sheep is long legged with a narrow body and fine bones. The coat is prized by weavers and pelts are rare, known for their variant array of natural colors and long wool fibers.
... the first Churro sheep were brought into the Southwest by Don Juan Onate. The fact that these sheep still exist today is a testimony to their endurance and endearment. No other sheep population in the history of the world has survived such selective pressure with such dignity and spirit.
By the 17th century the Churro had become the mainstay of Spanish ranches and villages. Native Indians acquired flocks of Churro for food and fiber through raids and trading. Within a century, herding and weaving had become a major economic asset for the Navajo. It was from Churro wool that the early Navajo textiles were woven -- a fleece admired by collectors for its luster, silky hand, variety of natural colors and durability.
As European settlers came west and the demand arose for fine wool in the American textile industry, the churros were "graded up" by crossing with Merino and English longwools. However, some churros remained in the remote Hispanic villages, among the isolated Navajos and on the West Coast. These isolated flocks eventually formed the landrace sheep, the Navajo-Churro, named to recognize Spanish and Navajo influence.
The Navajo were such good weavers and shepherds that their mixed flocks grew to 574,821 sheep by l930. The large number of sheep, goats, horses and cattle was problematic for the severe drought conditions of the 1930’s, so the U.S. government conducted a stock reduction. Some stock was purchased for $1-1.50 but the reduction progressed so slowly that roughly 30% of each household’s sheep, goats and horses were slaughtered by government agents and thrown into arroyos or burned.
Then in the 1850's thousands of Churro were trailed west to supply the California Gold Rush. Most of the remaining Churro of the Hispanic ranches were crossed with fine wool rams to supply the demand of garment wool caused by the increased population and the Civil War. Concurrently, in 1863, the U.S. Army decimated the Navajo flocks in retribution for continued Indian depredations. In the 1900's further "improvements" and stock reductions were imposed by U.S. agencies upon the Navajo flocks. True survivors were to be found only in isolated villages in Northern New Mexico and in remote canyons of the Navajo Indian Reservation.
In the 1970's several individuals began acquiring Churro phenotypes with the purpose of preserving the breed and revitalizing Navajo and Hispanic flocks. By 1977, the "old type" Navajo sheep had dwindled to less than 500 head so Dr. Lyle McNeal formed the Navajo Sheep Project to revitalize this breed and keep it from further depletion. There are currently over 4,500 sheep registered with the N-CSA, an estimated 1,500 on the Navajo Reservation and several hundred undocumented sheep in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
BLACK ANGUS BEEF
"Angus Beef is known for it's finely marbled meat, tenderness, juiciness and preferred flavor over many other breeds."
George Grant brought four Angus bulls from Scotland to the middle of the Kansas Prairie in 1873, and these four Angus bulls, probably from the herd of George Brown of Scotland, made a lasting impression on the U.S. cattle industry.
Farmers took notice of their hearty breeding stock and superior meat qualities. The first great herds of Angus beef cattle in America were built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland. Twelve hundred cattle alone were imported, mostly to the Midwest, in a period of explosive growth between 1878 and 1883. Over the next quarter of a century these early owners, in turn, helped start other herds by breeding, showing, and selling their registered stock. Because of their native environment, the cattle are very hardy and can survive the harsh winters, with snowfall and storms. The cattle have a large muscle content and are regarded as medium-sized. The meat is very popular in Japan for its marbling qualities.
The American Angus Association created the "Certified Angus Beef" (CAB) standard in 1978 to promote Angus beef as exhibiting higher quality than beef from other breeds of cattle.
Angus beef develops with better marbling than most cattle, which improves flavor, tenderness, and keeps meat juicy while cooking (especially at high temperatures). Angus beef is considered the "gold standard" by high end steakhouses and meat connoisseurs across the globe.
Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs
"The Old Spot pig produces top quality meat for all purposes be it pork chops, roasting joints or sausages. Meat of this quality is in demand by the more discerning public and many butchers are now specializing in it."
Gloucestershire (pronounced Glostersheer) Old Spots Pigs are a very old heritage breed. They are one of the oldest documented pig breeds in the world, also known as The Orchard Pig or The Cottager's Pig. They are excellent foragers and grazers and known as very intelligent pigs and easy keepers with a docile personality.
They love open pastures and roam freely on our ranch mingling with the chickens, sheep and cows. They travel decent distances everyday foraging the pastures and walking with their young piglets. They do not root (tear up the soil) often when they have access to lots of land as they do here. The Old Spot's maternal abilities make it favorable for them to raise their piglets on pasture as well.
Old folklore says the pigs got there spots is that the pigs lived in orchards among the trees and the spots were bruises from apples falling off the trees and marking the pigs! They are very sweet and gentle natured pigs, and the females are wonderful mothers.
The meat from Old Spot pigs is deliciously marbled (and very unlike modern pork) and the fat from this breed is also very tasty.
"Gloucestershire Old Spots Breed Society was formed in November of 1913 placing the breed among the oldest spotted pedigreed pig breeds known. The breed hit a high point in popularity in Great Britain just after World War 1 when the naturally large proportions of lean meat from Old Spots was perfectly suited for to the production of lean, streaky bacon that was fast becoming popular in Great Britain at this time. Old Spots reigned supreme as the pork of choice for discerning palates and in livestock shows through the 1920’s and early 1930’s. The breed became rare after World War II, when the shift to intensive pig production reduced interest in pigs that could thrive out of doors. The remaining population nearly became extinct in the 1960s, though it has increased slowly since then.
Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs were imported to the United States during the 1900s, and they made genetic contributions to several American breeds. The breed never became numerous in the United States, however, and was practically extinct by the 1990s. After 1995 twenty Gloucestershire piglets started to reestablish the purebred population in America. A breed society was founded, and the number of animals is increasing. As of 2009, there were fewer than 200 breeding animals in the US. The breed notably benefits from continued support of the British Royal Family who favors pork from these pigs for their table."