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Rowan youth take on ewe project

By Sara Drake
For the Salisbury Post
Matthew and William Jones have a strong interest in agriculture and livestock. While participating in a 4-H livestock clinic in 2010, they learned of the Youth Conservationist Program (YCP). The YCP strives to arouse interest in heritage wool sheep breeds, while teaching conservation practices. The program began in 1998 and has continued to grow to include 17 heritage sheep breeds.
Youth who are interested in receiving a ewe must complete an application, which includes a personal essay and a letter of recommendation. If selected, youth must be present at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival to receive their ewe. Other requirements that must be met include exhibiting the ewe at least twice (at a county fair and the state fair), breeding the ewe to a registered ram, either use the ewe’s fleece to personally make a woolen item or sell the fleece to a spinner, felter or weaver and complete a final report and scrapbook to the donor breeder.
After completing the application and agreeing to all requirements, Matthew and William Jones assumed ownership of their ewes this May. Matthew received a Tunis ewe lamb from NBS Farms in Ohio. William received a Scottish Blackface ewe from Braebrun Farms in Virginia.
While visiting with the Joneses, Matthew was excited to show me the wool from his ewe, Caramel, and explained how they had hand-sheared the ewes. He wants to have the wool spun into yarn so he can knit. William believes that he will felt the wool from his ewe, Splash, and make a rug. These are skills they learned last summer during Rowan County Cooperative Extension’s Summer Fun Knit One, Purl Two class.
William is enjoying this experience because he is learning about his new heritage breed sheep and how to care for it. Both William and Matthew feel that they are doing a small part to help preserve their particular breeds and increase awareness of them.
Matthew and William Jones will be exhibiting their ewes at the Rowan County Fair in September. The ewes will be in full wool at the show, so they will be easy to pick out. Feel free to stop by the livestock barn to meet Caramel and Splash and find out more about the Youth Conservationist Program.
Sara Drake, extension agent, 4-H Youth Development, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rowan County Center; 704-216-8970; http://rowanextension.com

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