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.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

All's quiet on the Swifty Front

Lil' Swifty is settling down so nice now, since he had his "quiet" restriction lifted after being neutered. Can you believe....I ACTUALLY crocheted, with a coffee cup nearby, while he was OUT of his kennel?!? Read big smile! I love this dog!

So now that he can be outside and off the leash with us again, he is getting lots of snowy playtime. We've done some good leash training, too. Seems he's forgotten some important things in those long two weeks, such as no jumping on people! In his happy puppy exuberance, he can knock you right over! So WAIT A MINUTE! Training time!!!!! I'm confident we can fix this...with repetition....a lot....

In the house, he's being worked on the leash to sit, stay while I walk away, how to sit pretty, how to lie down properly for work, how to walk up on command. Work! He's so smart, but his natural exuberance nearly gets the best of him every time. But patience brings him around and soon, he is doing what you wish with a very sweet look on his face. He's gonna be a nice dog! Meanwhile, if you don't give him something to do out in the barn, he'll fill in for you! Even if there is no animal to "herd", he'll go to work. One quiet morning, he was in the pole shed and it was very quiet in there. That's where the sheep, chickens and ducks are. Humm....quiet border collies are not good things! So I peeked around the corner without calling him and guess what he was doing! Running back and forth, stopping, circling, and creeping up on ghost sheep! Yep! There were NO sheep out, yet he was "working", with the happiest look on his face!! A memorable moment for sure! Silly boy!

On a different subject, iset fibers in Shetland sheep (black with grey and white fibers mixed in on body only, giving a blue-ish hue from a distance...different from shaela or emsket or gray fleeces) are very beautiful and unique! I was really hoping to get that hue in my yarn! I have not spun a whole lot of iset, for it is hard to find. Many people want it and can't get it. Some think it's dominant. I disagree! Dominance only comes when certain lines get bred over and over, making a color appear dominant (This is NOT the technical version! :). Truth is, Shetlands are full of diversity and if you breed properly, iset will not take over your farm (unless you want it too!) Even though Lil' Rainbow's fleece takes on that lovely blue-ish hue on hoof, her yarn spins up as black slightly speckled with white...a testimony to the fact that she has extensive black soft, fine, long, dense undercoat, and that undercoat rules the yarn. The yarn takes on the characteristics of that lovely undercoat. I like to joke that it's my "Border Collie Yarn". :) Fun! Here at Wheely Wooly Farm, we are VERY interested in the diversity the Shetland sheep have to offer, and enjoy utilizing all the colors. What a shame it would be to discriminate against genuine fiber or color, as long as it's "soft and fine, longish and wavy". In some places in the world, Shetlands are only allowed to be white. Other farms keep moorits only. If that works for some farms, great! But that's not me. I LOVE the colors of Shetlands and would miss not having any of them! As stewards of this awesome breed, we must be VERY careful to not believe politically charged "education" so as to not fall prey to the narrowing of the breed and all it's beauty.

We hope all of you are having a happy and joyful holiday break!

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