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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Opinions

Yea to Carole Precious!!!!!!!!!! I quote from our NASSA News p. 19 Fall-Oct. 2010 "To suggest that less of an effort was made to conform to a standard because of their rarity is completely wrong". Boy!! This rumor (about early breeders acting selfishly) has been spread, and spread, and spread around here in the midwest, and it ALWAYS drives me nuts! I believe the humans involved in the early days of the Shetland being on North American soil acted with outstanding care and regard (and we have much evidence to prove I'm thinking correctly!!). If they hadn't, I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE MY LIFE TODAY! These sheep are lovely, and we have them because of people like Carole! Thank you Carole!

Now on to my opinion! :) I will never again bring AI genetics onto my farm. Feel free to ask me why. I will never use modern technology such as microning to make breeding decisions on my ancient sheep. My hands are the best technology on the planet for the job of assessing fleece. I will never breed a sheep without first spinning and knitting, and wearing it's wool to be sure I fully understand it's characteristics. This will ensure I am making sound judgments in breeding. Since I only breed in the second season, this is not only easy, but pleasant!

Speaking of AI genetics, and our new little change of staple length being cut short...I believe all the rams in the breed database from the original import deserve protection from these onslaughts of change. The original import rams carried different genetics that are worthy of protection and distinction than the genetics of "short". I will be formally proposing sometime soon that if the Appendix A changes must stick, I will insist on a special designation for new lambs born under the "short" criteria...for they will be very different from the older rams in our database. I think it's only fair that prospective buyers of lambs know they would not be buying lambs from those coveted rams in the database from the Dailley descendents. For example, if a prospective Shetland buyer sees "Ole Blue's" picture on the July 2010 newsletter and likes it, then goes out to buy lambs from a "short" breeder, there is a real disparity here...Ole Blue (Z2408) has excellent, bright Shetland character, beautiful horns, bright eyes and a beautiful nose. His fleece looks lovely! That is NOT what you'd get if you bought lambs today from some breeders. I believe this disparity requires review. The old rams in our database deserve recognition and honor, so that people who want Shetlands like that today can find the right bloodlines.

I will always marvel at the skills European knitters developed. I could only hope that someday I'll be up to par with them! Each and every day is a step closer to gaining some form of true competence in spinning and knitting. It's a lifelong process of awareness and creativity. I love it!

So back to Carole's quote: it is my opinion that NASSA has a severe problem that is going to need addressing...which is the misleading of new shepherds in just the last few years away from the early breeders into a shorter fibered, differently conformed animal, with a different expression. These new breeders are just now realizing truth has been lacking and that yes, Shetlands have always been long fibered, drapey, soft and bright. What a mess! It's going to take time to heal from this one.

Wheely Wooly Farm is so happy to share the Shetland breed! We will work diligently to maintain the historical, genuine Shetland sheep, and the genuine, Shetland fiber qualities that bring amazing yarns and garments, no matter the outcome of the current political landscape! So don't forget to vote, then start knitting!

PS...if no campaigning is allowed on our breed organization's chat site...then why has a candidate been allowed to write a long letter strongly arguing for his side (campaigning), and being allowed to post without his name or flock number??? I'm confident the moderator knows him. :) Huh.

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