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.

Friday, January 21, 2011


We are having a cold snap here on Wheely Wooly Farm. The lowest temps of the winter have quietly fallen upon us. It can get a lot colder than this, but it's about 10 degrees below zero out there through the night. When things get like this, we check on everyone more often and replace water buckets more frequently. Last night, I was out there at 11:30. The moon was sensationally bright and I could see every little thing just fine, it seemed. I noticed little Cosmo was driven away from the other boys and was laying down against the fence some distance away. Worried he couldn't stay warm by the others, I decided to observe for a bit. He was chewing his cud and giving me cute glances, so after watching a while, I decided things were ok. Just as I began turning to walk away, Wink got up....on three legs.....and stood there with his rear tucked way under him in a half sit! Uhoh!!! I watched him a few minutes. He had been sleeping in the middle of a wooly pack of all the rams and Wilbur, seemingly tucked in nice and warm. Why would he be on three legs?? As the others got up and walked around, it was obvious something was wrong with Wink.

So I ran up to the house to get help, just in case. I knew I'd need to do an expert snatch of him to get him out of the pen without getting whacked myself! He's shy, and usually takes a minute for me to catch him, so this was going to have to be well thought out to get him. Silly Wilbur, who is the official greeter of the BoyPen came right over and thankfully, Wink followed just behind. As I scratched Wilbur's chin and petted his back, Wink came closer. Holding my breath, I carefully slipped my hands out of my mittens and let them drop. In this kind of cold, hands can freeze in moments, so this had to be effective! As Wink turned his head to look at Wooly Bear, I quickly reached out and SNATCHED a good, gentle, firm hold of his horn (something I NEVER do unless it's an emergency)!!!! Whew! Got 'im! I quickly walked him sideways, grabbed a chunk of wool above his hip and with his horn and wool, expertly swiped him over the fence before he even knew what was happening!!!!!!!...before anyone else could whack us! Whew!! Carefully, I set him down and put the waiting halter on him, just to make sure he couldn't get loose. He seemed quiet, agreeable, and grateful for the attention. After a sweet chin rub and chest scratch, I carried him into the barn across the path we've worn to the ram pen. He remained very quiet and seemed happy for the attention.

Inside the barn, we checked him over good as he continued to crouch and hold his leg up under his belly, then walked him around slowly to get him warmed up. He began putting weight on his rear again, and started using his hind leg...slowly. There was no evidence of any problems with structure. At first, I had wondered if he had been whacked by someone else and was hurt. I stayed with him for quite awhile to help him warm up. After awhile, he seemed ok again, so after lots of scratches under his chin and all his itchies, I carried him back out to the others, swiftly lifted him over the fence, and let him "leap" off the rock of my arms back to the other boys. All seemed fine, and the other boys acted like nothing had happened.

This morning, things continued to look like nothing had happened, and he seemed fine. Not sure what happened there! I did notice that the snow the boys had slept on overnight had actually melted into egg-shaped depressions with hard ice underneath and on the sides! I guess they are warm out there! Turns out Cosmo was was Winker that needed some help! Observations pay off! So does handling your sheep when there is no emergency, so if something goes wrong, they are not stressed out by the handling! Whatever happened, I'm just glad everything is ok tonight....

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