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.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Voice I am going to post about our breed organization here in North America. I have supported this organization in good faith with my dues and sheep registrations. We produce fleece for handspinning, and I sell every drop...well...except the ones I can't bear to part with! I think my many followers now know who we are.

I am posting this blog today because I am deeply concerned about the activities within our organization that have been occurring over the last few days. Things are just not right. For example:

1. An insult has been made on the official group list, directed to our fellow shepherds over in Britian. I want it to be clearly known that I found this very offensive, unprofessional. I found it embarrassing and as soon as I saw it, I requested it be removed. I do not want to be linked with that, and I feel bad it was allowed to happen, as many people read it. I have many followers from Britian, and I am so sorry our organization allowed that to happen!! I am amazed it was allowed to post.

2. Even though I paid my dues a long time ago, and am a member in good standing, I have not been given the impartiality allowed me in membership rights. I have attempted to engage in the exchange on our organization's group list, and some of my posts have gotten through, most have been repeatedly censored off. I knew certain people don't like the facts I've found, because they support "longish and wavy" to mean just that, "longish and wavy", historically accurate, and well known. So I guess that even though I am a paid member, hmmm...and I've learned I am not alone...

3. I have found it amazing that the representatives of the organization are saying all input on the posts were members' OPINIONS. The continual implication that members don't have any facts is, well, not correct and disrespectful to the membership.

4. In my many discussions with Shetland shepherds over the last winter and previous years, I hear the same thing. Long fleeces are loved. They are desired. They sell fast for higher prices. They are a joy to spin. They make beautiful yarns ideal for wearing. They look beautiful on the sheep. They are most often what drew people to the breed. We have excellent documentation in a variety of places around the world that they are historical. Plus, it is a fact that the textiles produced and made famous in Shetland reveal that longer fleeces ARE what the breed is. That is a fact. I have also learned from many of you that sheep bearing these fleeces tend to thrive and become great producers with very little input in your flocks. The mortality rate in these flocks is low and ewes are kept, and remain productive well past a decade. Hum..

5. If anyone who enjoys longer fleeces tries to engage in friendship with other such shepherds on the list or at Shetland events, a small, but very combative group interferes with a vengeance, creating a lot of hard feelings and sore minds by those observing. This is not right. These are sheep. Something is seriously amiss, and we are, it seems, on a bloody battlefield of some sort.

6. I will be continuing to raise the sheep described above, because that is what's right. I do not agree with the way things have been handled in our organization and I am entitled to my voice. I used to be proud to belong to this organization. Now, I'm embarrassed. And clearly, I can no longer trust that those in control can function with integrity and impartiality and equality, as the By-laws and Code of Ethics dictate. Therefore, I can no longer refer future shepherds and customers to the website, for I feel they have proved to negatively affect my ability to engage in commerce, professionalism, and friendship.

FACT: Decisions have been made in our organization. The handling of concerns from members has not been handled well. Members who offend in inappropriate ways get through time and again, while members who don't offend are censored out or descended upon for their opposing view. Our greater membership is hiding under the table.

FACT: Many members are not able to use the computer to get information.

FACT: I am surrounded by small flocks whom no longer belong to this organization, or never joined for these very reasons. They are raising Shetland sheep with NO Standard, and NO support. Fact: they sell many, many lambs for nice prices.

Whether a board in an organization has full power or not, they ARE representatives of the membership. They control representation of Shetland sheep to members who own farms, flocks, fiber related businesses, and hobbies, as well as to prospective shepherds and customers. I feel our board has failed miserably on this. Members and friends cannot engage in dialogue and friendship, commerce and participation without getting verbally beaten up. Something is WRONG.

And now, I have to go. I just got the call as I was typing this. My Grandmother whom I have been very, very close to, who loved daylilies and peach pie, is dying. Her birthday is in two days. She'll be 95. So here's your chance people! Begin your next attack, because I won't be around for awhile to hold you honest.