"When the sheep came back it brought back our song."
- Al Largo - Navajo Sheep Herder talking about the Navajo Sheep Project
About the Sheep
About Rio Milagro Farm
Rio Milagro Farm is a farm dedicated to the preservation of the environment through sustainable living and farming practices and the conservation of an endangered southwest livestock breed -- the Original Churro or TrueChurro™ sheep. We are committed to the idea that our living space is part of the entire ecosystem and should be protected as such instead of allowing farming and living practices to degrade or change the natural environment that sustains endangered species on and around our farm, it is imperative that our farm protects and enhances the ecosystem that supports us. We are protecting our water and bringing back the soil that has been degraded by years of livestock overuse. We are working with botanist that are doing innovative exciting projects with native seeds as a sustainable food source. We are researching the unique qualities specific to the Churro wool with water retention and soil mitigation and creating viable products from the wool and manure wastes. And we have created a research project partnering along with Nature Conservancy that will monitor grazing habits of our Churro herd. This will prove indigenous landrace livestock species are best suited for their intended environment which is dryland rangelands and benefit ecosystems in this changing climate.
Along with our projects, we are re-planting native forbs and plants that feed us and our livestock and the animals that live here. The springs are protected and native plants are coming back which is creating more water and habitat for the wild things that share our home. This in turn allows endangered species to thrive on our 40 acres alongside our activities.
Therefore, our farm will do no harm. To protect endangered species means we are protecting the natural environment in which we live. This in turn guarantees biodiversity and our fragile precious ecosystem will survive.
Recently we have a non-profit called Rio Milagro Foundation which will protect and use the last remaining TrueChurro in climate change mitigation.
The foundation will do the following:
Rio Milagro is dedicated to helping humans to adapt to the reality of Climate change.
Our approach is to observe, learn from, and develop natural technologies from the adaptations of species through the millennia.
Rio Milagro Foundation plans to study and investigate the feasibility of a conservation strategy for the landrace churro based on the innovative use of its grazing habits and unique wool. This will create new value to the landrace sheep and allow further income to churro shepherds.
Our current key areas of research and development are using the TrueChurro™ sheep in conservation practices that improve soil health and sequester carbon while producing important co-benefits, including: increased soil water holding capacity, hydrological function, biodiversity, and resilience.
In these sheep are some of the answers to help preserve the world -- to help preserve ourselves.
Churro sheep were naturally selected through the centuries for their survivability in extreme desert conditions, exellent mothering instinct and intelligence. Their small agile frames and long deer-like legs allow them to move through the desert environment with ease, conserving much needed energy. Their three fiber fleece is essentially waterproof, keeping them dry in the winter and insulated from the harsh sun in the summer.
But modern conveniences as well as government intervention has reduced the Churros importance as well as their numbers. Over the last century, other breeds of sheep have been added to their genetics to create a larger more acceptable model of what modern society feels is right. Luckily, through traditional families both on the reservation as well as along the Rio Grande, some of the "original sheep" were spared. Through the efforts of these families as well as the Navajo Sheep Project and dedicated breeders, we are able to keep these sheep from going extinct especially in their native homeland.
It is these unique adapted plant and animal species like the Churro, that will survive the drastic weather conditions created by climate change. These adapted species are part of the answer to our human problem. The problem of how do we survive our changing climate.
To lose this animal in a time when we need it the most will be one of the worst tragedies.