Newsletter April / May 2011
Jean and Stan

In This Issue

    Premier Sheep Tours:
    Weaving Connections
    - by Stan Potratz

    Livestock Guardian
    Puppies For Sale


    Halters & Leads
    World-Class Resharpening
    Premier's Clippers & Shears

    Protect Your Garden
    - by Gordon Shelangoski

    Investing in Food
    - by Al Humble

    Stephanie Sexton


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Upcoming Shows

Please visit us at the
following shows:

MidWest Horse Fair
April 15th-17th, 2011
Madison, WI

Goat Extravaganza
Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Grinnell, IA

Iowa Sheep & Wool Festival
June 11-12th, 2011
Adel, IA

Polyface Farm Field Day
with Joel Salatin

Saturday, July 9th, 2011
Swoope, VA



Protect Your Garden

By Gordon Shelangoski, Premier Sales Consultant

If you are going to invest the time and money to raise a garden, then it's worth the time and money to protect it from rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, dogs and chickens.

How? By installing electric netting fence in the spring (and taking it down in the fall). It's quick to do and will prevent damage to the "fruit of your toil." Electric netting works better than permanent fence because you can till and plant the garden without the fence being in the way. After the garden is planted install the netting (often takes less than an hour), and you're done until fall.

After harvest take the netting down (even faster than putting it up), and your garden will look clean all winter.

For keeping out rabbits, raccoons, groundhogs, poultry and dogs:
     PermaNet 12/48/3
     VersaNet 9/20/3
     VersaNet 11/30/3

For keeping out raccoons:
     RaccoonNet 4/18/12

For keeping out poultry:
     PoultryNet 12/48/3

See all of Premier's
Electric Netting »

Premier Netting

Premier Sheep Tours:
Weaving Connections Worldwide

Four years ago we used my knowledge of British agriculture (I managed a college farm there for 11 years.) to organize a 7 day coach trip for U.S. sheep folks. The trip started in Edinburgh and finished in London. Along the way we stopped at Britain's leading sheep research site; a large, cutting-edge Scottish operation; the North Sheep Event in the North Yorkshire Dales (along with 5000 British shepherds); Bakewell (a stunning village in the Peak District) and the home of MeatLinc sheep (developed by my close friend Henry Fell). The trip ended with an open day in London (most folks opted to do it as a group because they had gelled into having fun together) and an evening dinner cruise on the Thames.

While it was fascinating and fun to learn about the British sheep industry (4 times as many sheep as the US in an area smaller than Iowa), I suspect most folks on that trip obtained greater value from bonds created between each other. Save for a lost passport (we won't say who but he was young and male) the trip surpassed all expectations.

Since the British trip worked (and folks on it demanded to know where we were going to go next even before the first one was over) we followed that with a trip to both the North and South Islands of New Zealand in Nov. 2009. It featured sheep farms, deer farms, the Christchurch Royal (the South Island's annual agricultural show), Queenstown, a mountain sheep operation that runs 90,000 ewes in the southern Alps, a tour of a major brewery (at which of few of us managed to "bemuse" our much-too-serious brewery guide), and a lamb packing plant that harvested and processed 8 sheep per minute.

The trip finished with a group dinner in Christchurch. (It's painful to note that 2 terrible earthquakes have rocked that lovely city over the past year.)

We polled those who had travelled with us-and Ireland topped the list of preferred destinations. So we went there in September 2010. It was a lively, adventurous tour that took folks deep into the heart of Ireland. Five sheep operations were visited (including a research station high in the hill country), as well as an impromptu sheep auction, and an afternoon at the International Sheep Dog Trials. Other highlights included an overnight stay at Ashford Castle, and a full day at the National Ploughing Championships. Ireland exhibited its charming culture, breathtaking scenery, and of course, typical Irish weather. For a full report from one of our travelers, click here.

Where do we go next? France in September of this year. We provide details below. If you can afford the time and the $$ you should seriously consider it. I missed the Ireland trip, but my wife and I don't want to miss out on the trip to France in September. We love the French food, villages, and markets-and I want to know much more about the French sheep industry. France is a big country so we allowed 10 days.

There's space available if you wish to join us.

Premier organizes the coach, the hotels, the sheep and tourist stops, the local guide/translator/explainer in chief, driver, etc. Our folks go along to help you through the unexpected. You must find your way to the starting point (and from the ending point).

What type of sheep folks go with us? Every type from Western ranchers to those with less than 10 sheep, from show sheep to fiber sheep. They come from California, Maryland, Florida, Venezuela, and all points in between.

What's it like to be in on a Premier trip? It's an educational "party" on wheels that passes through vistas new to all while stopping to eat and sleep in villages and towns with histories dating back 2000 years. "Party" may not be the right word because it means different things to different folks--but I don't know of a better one that catches the sense of camaraderie and fun that pervades those who travel with us.

Stan Potratz, Owner


Premier's France Sheep Tour

France Sheep Tour

September 5-15, 2011

Stunning vistas, sleepy villages, and a way of life seemingly undisturbed for centuries. Join Premier and other USA sheep producers as we weave through the historic sheep regions of France. This tour of a lifetime begins in Paris and ends in the southern city of Avignon.

As the tour rolls though lush pastures and hilltop villages, you'll get a true taste of what France really is-a place where time slows down enough for folks to focus on essential things like fresh food, local wine, fields of lavender, and of course, sheep husbandry.

The first two days of the tour are dedicated to Paris. Our hotel is just off the prestigious Champs-Èlysèes, so you'll be in perfect proximity to explore the legendary city. An optional guided tour on the second day will be available to those who wish to familiarize themselves with the more famous points of the city.

Departing from Paris, the tour heads south into the Limousin, and mid-Pyrenees regions of France, and includes a full day at Tech Ovin, a sheep-tech fair in the city of Bellac. The French sheep industry uses this biennial event to exchange the latest ideas, news and innovations in sheep production.

As we navigate into the mountainous regions of Southern France, a mixture of sight-seeing and sheep-related stops will occupy the tour. These stops include a sheep auction in the village of Requista, a vineyard near Cahors, a tour of Roquefort Caves and their unique sheep cheese, Chenonceau Castle, and a government research farm for dairy sheep at La Fage. There will be ample free time for exploring villages and shopping in the local boutiques. Overnights will be in 3-4 star hotels in cities such as Poitiers, Limoges, Rocamadour, Millau and Avignon.

Join us on this unique tour!

Cost is only $3480 per person (excludes airfare).

For more information contact:
Cheyenne Miller, 319-653-9636,
Stephanie Sexton, 319-653-9632,


Livestock Guardian Puppies
For Sale

Livestock Guardian Puppies

Premier has three livestock guardian puppies for sale. Born March 29, 2010

Puppies were born in the barn with sheep and lambs and have been in constant contact with sheep.

Puppies: 1/4 Spanish Mastiff, 3/4 Tatra, (trace 1/16 of Maremma).

They will be ready for sale May 24-25. $500. Puppies could be picked up at Premier over Memorial Day Weekend. Air freight possible at additional cost of air freight and kennel.

For more information contact:
Jean Potratz,

Parents are working Livestock Guardians at Premier.

Puppy Parents
Pictured: Mother, Athena; Father, Big Foot.


Halters & Leads

Halters and Leads

Braided Sheep & Goat Halters/Leads
A step up in feel, function and appearance from twisted rope halters. Diamond-braided (tiny polyethylene fibers) 3/8 in. diameter rope. Plated steel hardware. Non-fray, heat-fused rope ends.

Cattle Halters
Made by the Mackey family of Blum, Texas. The ends are braided together, clamped and heat-fused. Metal clamp is offset from the ends to prevent fraying. Rope with slides offer increased comfort to the animal.


World-Class Resharpening Service

World-Class Resharpening

When you need sharp equipment, you needed it yesterday. Premier provides 24-hour turnaround of your blades, combs and cutters. (Allow an extra day in June, July and August.)

How good is our service? The number of blades, combs and cutters that we sharpen is now tens of thousands a year--and growing rapidly. The rising demand speaks to the skill of our technicians and our service.

Premier Online Review:

Product: Resharpening Service

Crystal E.

Would you recommend this product? Yes

Fast turnaround, I get my blades back within two weeks. Blades, combs and cutters are as sharp or sharper than new. I'll never have my blades sharpened anywhere else.


Premier's Clippers & Shears

Clippers and Shears

All of your clipping and shearing needs for:
Sheep, goats, cattle, llamas, alpacas, horses, mules, large dogs, pigs and more.

What you get:

  • Unique 3-year warranty
  • Quiet operation
  • Unique permanent magnet motor
  • Cool-running
  • Easy to hold and maneuver
  • Choice of heads (clipper or shear)
  • Customer consultation
  • Satisfaction guaranteed

Premier Online Review:

Product: Premier 4000c Clipping Machine

Linda K.

Would you recommend this product? Yes

I LOVE this product. There isn't anything else like it. Lightweight, low sound, and fantastic quality. Never had bad luck and am very satisfied with it. You cannot go wrong with these! Well worth the money!

Premier Online Review:

Product: Premier 4000s Shearing Machine

David R.

Would you recommend this product? Yes

As a first-time shearer all I can say is WOW! They came ready to use right out of the box. We have hair sheep and used it to shear off the rug that is sometimes left. On some of the sheep, the rug was extremely matted, but once I was able to get underneath the matt the clippers did the job in record time. Very easy to use, even for a novice, and did a great job even on the most matted wool.


Investing in Food

By Al Humble, Premier Customer

There is much talk and hype about which stocks will rise and which ones will fall. Debates abound whether real estate will make a comeback in 2011, whether consumer confidence is on the rise or decline, the viability of bonds and treasuries, and the continuing rise in prices of gold and silver.

May I suggest that you consider investing in agriculture? The motive of course is for your own personal benefit and consistent supply of foods. No one can control the direction of stocks, bonds, treasuries, real estate and metals. Everyone can have a hand in producing food for their family.

I have never found an article in any of the financial reports that I regularly read that advises investors to buy and raise livestock and plant gardens for their own food needs. I believe this forward-thinking investment advice is sorely lacking, but greatly needed.

I too am an investor in stocks and real estate. However, I do not rely upon those to actually place healthy, nutritious, homegrown food on my table. Yeah, they may generate profits in interest, dividends or appreciation, but will they always do so? Many individuals who together have lost vast amounts of money in each of these investments over the last 20 years will answer that question with a resounding "no." They will definitely not always provide profits.

Therefore, consider a wise agricultural investment that will again and again produce excellent foods for your family, save lots of grocery dollars, and perhaps even yield enough extra to sell. An investment of $5,000, more or less, provides a productive vegetable garden area and a chicken and egg enterprise.

With this money you can prepare the soil in a large garden area of 100'x100', install a drip irrigation system, buy seed and a few necessary tools. Additionally this investment will also purchase a chicken and egg kit that includes everything you need to establish an enterprise to produce 280 dozen eggs or more per year.

The garden space will be divided in half. One half is used for producing vegetables, and the other half for grazing your chicken flock. The area is alternated between chickens and vegetable garden from one year to the next. If you have less space to devote to these valuable food production enterprises, scale back the dimensions and dollars invested to your own individual area available. Even small areas with careful management can be very productive!

The garden will provide your family a continual seasonal supply of fresh, delicious, botulism-free varieties of high-quality foods that cannot be matched by store-bought foods. It will also contribute a year round supply of eggs that are simply the best. The chickens then use the rich garden space for grazing after the fall harvests are completed.

The chickens also provide valuable services of cleaning up weeds, grasses, weed seed and insect pests left in the field after all the crops are harvested. They also freely distribute rich manure for fertilizing the crops to be planted in the next field rotation.

Yes, these endeavors require planning, work and effort, and good work it is. The numerous rewards will offset the investment both of time and money. Who knows, it may even become a livelihood for some.

For more information about these practical foods producing methods, contact Al Humble.


Stephanie Sexton

Stephanie Sexton

Stephanie Sexton from Ainsworth, Iowa is this month's featured employee. She has been with Premier for 18 years. When she first came to Premier she interviewed for a receptionist position but was ultimately hired for sales, then became Sales Manager and is currently the Marketing Director and Products Manager. Her background involves showing cattle, farming, selling of direct market beef and journalism.

When asks what she likes best about her position, she says: "Marketing involves thinking about situations and products from what the customer needs, not from a product standpoint. Because Premier allows their employees to bring their own farming and livestock abilities into their job, our experiences make my job as Marketing Director much easier. Each of us at Premier has had unique problems to solve; when we do, we find a solution and because in many cases our customers have had the same problems, we can then offer these solutions to them."

What she likes best about Premier is "the ability to tell a customer that they do not need to purchase a product from Premier just because Premier offers it, if that customer does not need that particular product." Stephanie adds: "When I first interviewed at Premier many years ago, Stan told me that if the customer already has an energizer that will work for their situation, do not feel like you have to sell them one of ours. To this day, the thinking behind that statement is a driving force at Premier. Be truthful about the benefits AND shortcomings of a product, have hands-on experience with a product and if a product is not needed, be honest about telling so."

Stephanie and her husband Lyle have been married for 23 years. They have two sons: Ty, 18, and Keiffer, 13. Lyle works for Gingerich Well in Kalona, Iowa as a service technician. Ty plans to attend Iowa State University this fall to major in Agricultural Communications and plans to stay involved in the beef cattle industry. Keiffer loves showing cattle and playing basketball. (Premier catalog customers may have seen photos of both Lyle and Ty with either a clipper in their hands or at the end of a halter or showing a pig.) They farm 400 acres that is divided up into hay, pasture, crop ground and CRP. Stephanie grew up in Ohio on a Polled Hereford farm, graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Communication, met Lyle in Kentucky and then moved to Llano, Texas for five years to work on the Granite Hills Hereford Ranch. Their passion is their cow/calf operation, which includes 70 mama cows that have a Shorthorn and Chianina base. They sell club calves throughout the United States, direct market their shorthorn beef, sell breeding stock and show cattle nationally.

Steph says that she has two favorite statements. "My favorite ever since I was little is You Either Make Dust or You Eat Dust. I am a very focused and competitive person. This fits me well."

The other one is: "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. I tell my kids to try new things, to go for it, to learn from their mistakes, to take responsibility for their actions and to keep going no matter what."

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