When life gives you sheep, make dreams

Shawntell Stiner, 17, of Marvel, has found a market for meat and wool from her lambs. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Shawntell Stiner, 17, of Marvel, has found a market for meat and wool from her lambs.

A few years ago, 17-year-old Shawntell Stiner would have told you sheep are “stinky,” not dream-makers.

But today her story is different, thanks to help from LOCAL Brands FARM Co-op. Now, the animals are leading a young entrepreneur to her future.

“I hope to have my own ranch someday,” Stiner said.

Encouraged by her ranching family, Stiner joined the local 4-H Club a few years ago while looking for a passion to pursue.

Someone gave her a lamb to get started. It wasn’t the animal she was hoping for.

“I was looking to do something really cool,” Stiner said, and sheep weren’t on the short list.

But sometimes life forces a person to work with what they have, she said. And before long, she “fell in love” with her little lamb and the business.

Stiner spent the last couple years breeding show, heritage and meat lambs while learning the sheep business. Her best lamb meat cuts sell through the LOCAL Brands FARM co-op for between $7 and $9 per pound.

Stiner’s work will help pave the way to college, where she hopes to obtain a degree in ranch management. Raising sheep also has opened her eyes to the world of government regulation and politics around agriculture as she has studied the potential effects to her business of a “Cottage Foods” bill awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature.

Despite her youth, that first “stinky” lamb and the business-incubating work of a local co-op have created a young woman who knows what she wants.

“I’m committed,” Stiner said. “I know I’d rather be outside with the animals than in an office somewhere.”

hscofield@durangoherald.com

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
Shawntell Stiner, 17, of Marvel, feeds hay to her heritage Tunis sheep on in the barn at the family farm. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald Shawntell Stiner, 17, of Marvel, feeds hay to her heritage Tunis sheep on in the barn at the family farm.

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