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.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ok, I ate my carrots...

"Eat your carrots!", my mother said when I was a kid. Well...maybe if they had been purple, I would have!

The world has realized the dangers of narrowing the field. For the last two decades, we've been advised to intermix plantings, eat variety, and mingle with a variety of people. We are encouraged to broaden our job skills, meet new people, and try new things. The world changes rapidly these days. You never know what will be valuable or useful in just ten years.

It is now understood that variety is healthy. Through variety, you understand people better. You eat more vitamins and nutrients. You learn more. You can do more. You can give back more.

Variety stimulates families, bringing closer relationships. Variety stimulates the economy in the many places to make/spend money. Variety brings greater education, opening doors to a more advanced culture. Variety opens jobs, healthcare, invention, and travel.

And yet, our own little sheep breed organization has a tight little group that thinks it's healthy for us all to breed and raise and show only ONE kind of Shetland sheep. Diversity is not diversity, they say; it's just a few good sheep and lots of bad sheep. So let's think for a moment about the cost of going against the good advice of so many other fields:
1. We could lose something very special, that has yet to be fully realized and appreciated
2. We could lose health in our sheep in the future
3. We could lose interest in our sheep in the future
4. We could narrow the uses of our fleeces in the future
5. We could lose our closeness with the genuine Shetland sheep-the one that is the grower of genuine Shetland textiles
6. We could lose credibility in our national flock, for one fleece type is NOT responsible for the wide variety of Shetland textile products produced over a span of several hundred years.
7. We could lose our breed mission: to preserve and protect.

If we go against the grain of outstanding advice to maintain diversity, and narrow our parameters within the breed, what is the plan to gain diversity BACK if it's realized down the road a mistake was made???

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