Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles

Shetland Sheep: Rich in History, Rich in Textiles! Our farm mission is to enjoy and promote the wonderful diversity of the Shetland breed by fully utilizing to the best of our ability all they have to offer historically. We believe the best preservation and management of this breed includes it's full spectrum of history. We encourage old and new shepherds alike to join in the fun by engaging in fiber arts, especially spinning and knitting, as this breed is so intimately linked with those aspects of the arts.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


When I decided to take my little ram lamb to the sheep show last fall, so I'd have a second sheep to accompany my child's ewe for her youth showmanship class, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE I'd have to deal with as a result!! What a beehive!! After winning that show free and clear, the onslaught began. From name calling, to insulting other Northern European Short Tail breeds, to orchestrating coordinated slamming of my farm blog (and that I was "next" in line to be "steamrolled"), to lies about how the wool was historically used, to unacceptable intrepretations that "longish and wavy" means the opposite, to bragging about writing comments back to me on my blog that are oozing with sarcasm, to picking up (without my permission) and dropping my ram lamb back to the concrete after the show AND threats that things are going to get "real interesting" in Jefferson next year! Whew!! That is some beehive (and that's not mentioning it all)!!

I DID wonder why farm after farm was leaving the Shetland sheep events in Jefferson each year....dwindling attendance down to a mere few left. I DID wonder why so many people are breeding and raising Shetlands outside the American breed organization...with NO interest in being involved or being members. I DID wonder why the sheep of the few left in attendance looked SOOOOO different than all the other Shetland sheep and clearly, VISIBLY DON'T line up with the Breed Standard of 1927. I think I know why now!!

Then, for the first time in years, the Midwest Shetland Sheep Breeders (MSSBA) Show results of 2009 were NOT published in the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association (NASSA) Newsletter. That has not happened as far back as I could find. Do you suppose it is because a normal-looking Shetland sheep that matches the standard won Grand Champion Ram, and not one of those NOT normal-looking sheep??

Let's seeeee...NASSA literature is being "updated", the NASSA website is being "overhauled and updated" (remember, our breed has only been in the US since the 1980's and didn't have a breed organization until the 90's, AND wasn't online until later so everything WAS pretty well "updated" already), the NASSA Handbook FORMERLY distributed to all new NASSA members has been tossed away as not valid, board members refer new shepherds AWAY from NASSA literature to "information sites"...i.e. websites of their friends for breed information, proposals to travel as a group overseas the year the Doane's are planning the Annual General Meeting at their home in the U.S.A., and NEW photos of sheep everywhere coming from that little group who is making all these changes to replace the OLD photos, and many of the breeders who claim to have the "real" Shetland sheep but have no idea how to spin and/or knit Shetland fiber!! .... hummmm... sure smells fishy!!!

As if that wasn't enough, today's message regarding a two-day event in Jefferson this year was another surprise! That idea was mine, into which I poured hours of thought and design. I had no idea anyone was working on any planning of my event to make it a reality. My idea has been stolen!!!

My goal in designing that event can be read about in my blog entry back on January 29th. I designed the event to be a "Shetland Showcase". I had proposed my idea to NASSA back last fall. My dreams were to help bring back some sense of normalcy to the Midwest and to help temper this situation of this group of breeders who are literally bullying everyone away who don't support them in changing the Shetland breed into something they visualize, and that no one else has in this country, something that is NOT historically supported. My hope was to restore fun (although admittedly, we had a blast at the festival last year!!) I see I haven't been invited to the planning meetings to an event of my own design, that I laid out for Juliann Budde in a lengthy email last fall detail by detail!! I see my language was used to describe the event, but my name is nowhere to be found in acknowledgment. So guys...remember when you joked "I want to know it all!!" and "When is it my turn to know it all!!??" Well, if YOU know it all, why are you stealing my ideas and words?? Nice goin'.


  1. You should be proud that you had a great idea that planted a seed to create something great. Why be childish and bitter??? It will only distance you MORE from others.

  2. Try to enjoy the good times and not take your self sooooooo seriously.

  3. Why are you anonymous? There are a few that I have distanced myself from...the ones who are promoting sheep NOT of the standard; sheep that produce fleeces that are NOT historically accurate. I have not visited their farms nor have I purchased their sheep, and I've avoided their flock prefixes in my bloodlines because they have lost my trust, and as an avid handspinner, I was not looking for their commercial type fleeces. If people want to breed for those types of sheep because they like the results, there is nothing wrong with that, I wish them well. The line is crossed, however, when those sheep are promoted as outstanding models of the Shetland breed, while sheep that manifest historically accurate traits are bashed.

    However, I believe the greatest distance was created by the other breeders themselves, not me; and that this distance was lodged into place the moment a genuine Shetland ram won in the show. It may have worked before to treat genuine Shetland sheep owners poorly, but I find that embarrassing and unacceptable.

    Also, "bitter" is not a word that accurately describes this situation. I feel honored to work on the protection of genuine Shetland diversity and all the rich, unduplicated textile history that goes along with this ancient breed. I hope to help restore the credibility and integrity that has been lost in our breed organization in recent years. That is why I spent hours pouring over and developing my Shetland Showcase ideas.

    Speaking of my ideas, intellectual property rights and the permissive use of intellectual property rights is not in the "childish" department. It is my hope that those taking my Shetland Showcase ideas, renaming them, and moving forward in plans without involving me, the author, will rethink. Amy