Uncompahgre Polypay Farm - Polypay Sheep
About our flock name, Uncompahgre Polypay: Uncompahgre is a Ute Indian word meaning: “red water
running”. We wanted a unique name for our farm and since we are about a mile from the Uncompahgre River and
live in the Uncompahgre Valley, it seemed like a good name. Although it isn’t very unique for the area, it is unique
in the Polypay world.
Our flock: We started our Polypay flock in 1989 when we purchased 3 ewe lambs and a ram lamb from Gene
Schock of Golden West Polypays in St. Ignacius, Montana. Later that year we attended the sale at the U. S.
Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho and purchased 5 mature ewes. We brought 14 Polypays with us when
we moved to western Colorado in January 1991. We were back too Dubois thru 1995 buying additional ewes and
rams. You might remember L9762 and L9898 who were in the NSIP Sire Summary top ten when they were siring
We now have 65 ewes with some high NSIP (National Sheep Improvement Program) numbers. Our objective has
been and is too produce breeding stock with strong growth and milk production. We’re strong believers in NSIP,
starting in the early 1990’s prior too the cross-flock data. We have been using NSIP data as a selection tool since
Our current flock sires are two rams we raised out of “Mesa” (210107) a Tisdale ram, the 2005 Grand Champion
NSIP Ram a “Big John” son from Chuck Ripley’s flock and a “Grand Canyon” son from West Cyclone Polypays.
Our community: Delta is growing town of around 10,000. It is situated at the confluence of the Gunnison and
Uncompahgre Rivers. The area is surrounded by mountains on three sides and borders the desert on the fourth.
In fact, without irrigation, farms in the valley bottoms would be considered desert. Our annual average
precipitation is seven (7) inches. Grand Mesa the world’s largest flat-topped mountain is directly north of us and
rises some 5,000 feet to over 10,000 feet and has many lakes. The Ragged and Elk Mountains lie to the east of
us. The San Juan Mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet lie to our south. The Uncompahgre Plateau circles
around from south to west of us with an area of desert completing the circle.
Area farmers and ranchers produce many agricultural products including apples, peaches, cherries and other
fruits, wheat, corn, pinto beans, truck crops such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, Japanese squash and “Olathe
Sweet” sweet corn as well as cattle, sheep and horses. Sheep numbers are down from the past but there are still
a number of range bands that number in the thousands, one of which runs Polypays. Past crops included sugar
beets, potatoes and onions. In fact when we moved here in 1991, there was a definite aroma of onion in the
Favorite food: Leg of Lamb. Of course grilled lamb chops are a close second and if there is any of the leg left
over, you can make some lamb curry.
Favorite vacation spot: Right here in western Colorado. We have all the life zones from desert to alpine 5,000
to 14,000 plus feet and great weather in the valleys. We wouldn’t mind visiting Kenya again.
Hobby/Sport/Leisure Time: Helen spins and knits with Polypay wool. Billy - Our Polypay sheep are what I
spend time with. What more could a shepherd ask for than a flock of Polypays and a good Border Collie?
Most People don’t know that we . . . We lived in Kenya, East Africa for two years where Billy worked for the U.
S. Agency for International Development helping the Maasai people develop ranch plans for their cattle, sheep
I wish I could meet . . . This is a difficult one. We thought about the Shepherds who announced Jesus’ birth.
And of course there are many Polypay producers that we haven’t met. The people we really want too meet are
more people like Chuck Ripley who we met in 2001 and Hal Schulties who Billy met in 1994 when he purchased
the ram, L9762 we wanted at the Sheep Station Sale. Hal traded him to us a couple of years later. Many of you
knew Chuck Ripley but probably most haven’t met Hal Schulties. He was involve with the Hulets and others in the
development of the Polypays and ran a range flock.
A typical day: A typical day for us is one in which we don’t accomplish everything we’ve planned. We usually do
whatever we want but quite often we are controlled by the needs of our sheep. Of course they can pretty well
take care of themselves but we don’t always understand that. In the summer there is irrigating the pastures,
lambing and moving the sheep too new pasture for best production of both sheep and pastures. In the winter,
there is feeding the sheep and lambing. Once a month, Helen joins friends for a day of spinning. Of course there
is time to watch our grandchildren play sport, band and sing in the high school chorus. We also attend church
and have Bible studies with friends.
Family: Two married daughters and 7 grandchildren. One lives here in Delta, so we see 4 of our grandkids often
and another during the summer and holidays. The other daughter lives in Hamilton, Montana with their 2 children.
Occupation: Helen was an Extension Home Agent for a few years when we were first married and then managed
home and family before becoming a shepherd. Billy was a Range Conservationist in the Forest Service, U. S.
Dept. of Agriculture for 30 years. Serving in Colorado, South Dakota, Kenya, East Africa and Montana. Retired
in 1989 too raise Polypay sheep.
Closing comments: Polypay sheep keep a person young. Of course, talking with other Polypay producers is of
value as well. We are always open to talking about Polypays. Should any of you get to western Colorado, please
stop by. We can talk sheep and we’ll show you so some very beautiful country.
|Moving some of our mature ewes.