Sheep Improvement Company was established in 1995, although Kelley O'Neill started breeding purebred old-style Hampshires in 1975 on his family's farm, Spruce Shadows, in Bloomington, MN. Kelley's grandfather had raised turkeys and Guernsey dairy cattle here, and this is where Kelley's love for animals and natural ability expanded into raising his own sheep.
Cindy Wolf, DVM, started her internship at the University of Minnesota in 1984 and has been employed there since. Cindy's interests were in large animal medicine, specifically dairy cattle. However, at the U of M she cultivated her knowledge into specializing in small ruminants
and has become well known as a strong advocate in the sheep and goat community.
Kelley and Cindy established their commercial farm in Rushford, MN in 1994. They use cattle and sheep to graze the rolling, hilly land, much of which is unsuitable for cropping. Lambs are born in May and June out on pasture. The lamb and beef are sold directly to customers at the Rochester and Winona Farmers' Markets, as well as through the Dakota Lamb Growers Co-op. The farm also supplies meat to several restaurants in Winona and the Twin Cities.
Kelley and Cindy still operate Spruce Shadows Farm in Bloomington to raise their Siremax ram flock.
A word from Kelley on our farming philosophy:
"We try to be intentional about our conversion of sun and water, milk and grass into food. We put lots of labor into animal welfare, including supplemental feeding when weather conditions require more energy. Most of what these lambs and ewes consume over the course of their lives is perennial forage from diverse, "permanent," no-tillage, swards or pastures, much of it grown on ground which could not (or at least should not) be cultivated to produce any crop other than grass, 'the seamstress of the earth.'"