Shepherd’s Holiday Weekend

A Shepherd’s Weekend

I was able to attend the Shepherd’s Holiday (SH) this weekend in Alexandria, MN.  SH is an annual conference for members of the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association.  The Friday and Saturday conference consisted of workshops, silent and live auctions, entertainment, great food, a business meeting, a Make it with Wool competition, and an opportunity to connect with shepherds from across  the state.  The final sessions on Saturday were held at the Rafter P Ranch which has a 1,000+ ewe commercial flock.  I carpooled and roomed with Becky Utecht of River Oaks Farm.  Gail Von Bargen of Little Red Oak Farm and Winnie Johnson were also in attendance.  It was wonderful to meet Winnie and I always enjoy spending time with Gail.

The session that was most helpful was the one led by Bob Padula on wool grading.  He had an OFDA 2000, which tests the micron count of wool samples.  Bob presented a nice explanation of how to interpret micron testing results.  I brought two random samples of Shetland which tested at 24.1 and 26.7 microns.  Of the samples provided by participants, the lowest micron tested was a Merino at 16.  Becky’s sample from her Shetland ram lamb, Greyson, took 3rd place at 22 microns.  Yeah, Becky!!  I also enjoyed the Make It With Wool competition.  The contestants, who ranged in age from 7 to 77 years of age, sewed an article of clothing or a complete ensemble which had to be 100% wool or a wool blend.  For many years, I sewed ALOT, so I can really appreciate all the work involved.  In the Decorative/Misc. category there were quilts, shawls, mittens, hats and a very large braided rug.  Perhaps I will be motivated to enter an item in that category next year!

A Greek Marinade lamb shank was served at Friday night’s banquet – it was delicious!  I looked for a recipe on the internet, I have included the recipe and the link below.  This is the most basic marinade that I found.  There were other marinades with more ingredients…but I would rather start with the easier recipe.  I will try it soon and let you know what we think.  Tabouli and a Gyro were served at the Saturday luncheon, again the food was excellent.  I was lucky to win a small Sydell hanging feed trough as a doorprize!


Greek Lamb Marinade from

This Greek-style marinade can be applied to any meat, but is particularly good on lamb. Let the meat marinate for a while so the flavors can infuse.  Prep Time: 10 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients and mix well. Use this marinade on all cuts of lamb. Plan on marinating chops and small cuts for about 4 to 5 hours. Large cuts like leg of lamb should be marinated for 8 hours to overnight.  Prepare as you like.

Farm Tour

The weekend ended with a trip to the Rafter P Ranch to take part in an on-farm tour.  I looked at this as an opportunity to see how “the big guys do it.”   I spent most of the time observing Kelly, a veterinarian with H & H Vet in Benson, MN.  She was performing pregnancy checks with ultrasound.  It was fascinating to see the fetus’ in different stages of development.  I also was interested in the chute/handling system.  Click on the photo to enlarge.

Kelley, a veterinarian from H & H Vet in Benson, MN performs ultrasound on the ewes.

A very BIG barn for a 1,000 ewe commercial operation. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

Ewes eating corn silage at the fenceline.

Welcome to the Board

Ooh, I almost forgot to mention that I was elected to the Mn. Lamb and Wool Producers Board of Directors!  I have been wanting to get involved with an organization at a higher level so I offered to fill an open position.  So I am now the Northeast Regional Director of the MLWP Association.  I look forward to learning more about the industry and working to help promote lamb and wool in our state.  Becky was elected to the Secretary position.  Congrats to her!

2 responses to this post.

  1. Hey, nice recap of the weekend. I haven’t gotten to blogging about it yet, but I liked the wool grading talk the most, too. Ditto all else you said. We had a good time, and I really liked visiting with you.



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