A Land of Grass isn’t your average sheep and cattle ranch. While most ranchers hire a crew to shear their sheep, Steve Hutton and Lisa Schmidt shear their own, providing the couple with unique opportunities. “Wool from a lot of other ranches gets loaded up in tote bags and shipped off to be used by the U.S. Military or China,” says Schmidt, “but my husband and I are really passionate about keeping jobs in the U.S. Our wool is super fine, like merino, so we decided to have products made from our wool in the U.S.” Hutton and Schmidt began sending their wool to a company in Michigan that makes roving, which spinners can then make into yarn. The same company made quilts and mattress pads so the couple had them produce those items as well. Hutton and Schmidt found another Michigan company that makes socks, a Bozeman company that makes yarn, and a Great Falls company that tans pelts. Along with their grass-fed lamb (and beef) sales, every part of every animal gets used. “Our goal is to have as many products made in the United States from our animals as possible,” says Schmidt.
Because wool has such unique properties, Hutton and Schmidt are confident that the products returned to them are high quality. For one thing, wool is twice as flame resistant as cotton and it is also moisture resistant as well, making wool socks and other clothing perfect for any season. Breathability is another great factor. Wool quilts are great for keeping people warm on cold nights but are light and breathable enough that they aren’t too hot in the summer. Wool is also very durable, which is why it is often used in rugs and carpets. Schmidt has 30 yet to wear out a pair of her wool socks, whereas many of her store-bought socks have become tattered over the same length of time. “We won’t sell something that we don’t approve of ourselves,” says Schmidt.
According to Schmidt, one of the primary goals at A Land of Grass is to help people understand the importance of sheep. “The base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is physiological needs, which includes food, water, and warmth,” explains Schmidt. “Sheep fulfill two of those three basic needs.”
Besides educating people about the importance of sheep, Hutton and Schmidt are compelled to keep the history of their ranch alive. “We feel strongly about keeping the heritage of this ranch in the public eye,” says Schmidt.
A Land of Grass was settled in the Conrad area around 1889, the same year Montana earned its statehood. The sheep ranch was started by Donald Graham, an immigrant from Scotland, and passed down the family line. With no heirs left to take over the ranch, Graham’s descendants passed it on to Hutton and Schmidt, confident that they would preserve the Grahams’ legacy.
Hutton and Schmidt operate A Land of Grass almost entirely themselves, with help from their children, Will and Abigail. “Our family makes a comfortable living on this ranch,” says Schmidt. Her family is happy with their Western lifestyle and proud to share their quality products with others.
To learn more about A Land of Grass, visit a-land-of-grass-ranch.com or call 406-278-0159.