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, May 13, 2011

Wheely Wooly Lerwick Grown Up

Here he is! Lerwick is one of our lambs from last year, so he's a yearling now. He's also the proven sire of Hap, Splash, Lacey, and Twilight...four of this year's lambs (Lerwick covered ALL his ewes!). We are nuts about this young ram! (Well, we have certainly been happy about ALL of our lambs, but we knew when this guy was born that we had something special!)

Wheely Wooly Lerwick, born April 2010
Ch. Wooly Bear (Rocky Swamp Disco) x Mona (Ps. 23 Dewdrop)
Registered Shetland breeding ram

Lerwick is named for the main seaport in the Shetland Islands, where most of the knitted goods trading had taken place over the past several centuries. When Dutch herring fleets came in near the solstice, waiting for the first official day of fishing to start, the port was very busy. Shetland woollen goods were traded, taken back to ships, and dispersed all over the world, so the reputation of Shetland fiber became well known. The Shetland sheep in America today are descendents of those famous sheep (Lerwick is descended from almost all Dailley lines, but Island Skeld was Mona's grand sire) and we are VERY thankful to have them!! I couldn't wait to name a ram Lerwick...for I had planned it for a few years! So nice to see a dream come true!

Lerwick excites us because he follows the 1927 Breed Standard so closely! As you'll see in these next photos, he has many excellent strengths. We wish to follow the breed standard as closely as we can, for I believe that to have the REAL, GENUINE sheep and fiber, you have to produce what SHETLANDERS produced in those famous heydays!! I'm certainly not qualified (or desiring) to change their specifications, so we stick to what they deemed important.

First, notice his fine, crown of glory horns!! While Shetlands can be polled and that's fine, we really like the horns. They are beautiful on him, and make him seem larger than life in full fleece! Also notice that he is woolly on his poll and cheeks. He exhibits wonderful bright, perky Shetland character in his sweet face, without looking wrinkly like merinos or having a mean or dull look. His eyes are very bright as is his personality; perky, alert, and bright. His gait matches his expression...very smart! His expression matches his sire's, Wooly Bear.
Yes, he's vocal, too! ALL of my animals are life history. They all know they can tell me things. Lerwick's baa is very distinctive. It ends on an up-note.

His body is actually very, very small! I sheared him after this picture was taken and I think there's only about one third sheep left! He has length in his neck, a goofy topline right now (he's only half grown), but it's historically broomstick straight, and he's square on all four legs. His hips are nice and wide, but not high. That's important in passing good structure down to ewe lambs. His fleece is of excellent length! It drapes over his body so beautifully! His neck wool is shorter, and his britch wool (over the back hips and down outer rear legs) is not too coarse. The legs appear as a good foundation under his body; strong, fine, but not delicate or overly thick.
Check out that perfect tail!!
The hallmark of good breeding.

Lerwick's tail is perfect! Notice also, that he has good bone; not too fine, not too dense. He is a very agile, strong little guy, who can get out of the way of a charge like a twinkle-toes.

Extremely fine, long, silky (a word I really don't like to use), soft, wavy fleece!!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! This is where I get really excited!! His fleece is my dream! Long, wavy, fine, soft, and dense! It was sooooo dense, it took me three times longer to shear him than Wilbur. (Wilbur is a piece of cake to shear!) We select Shetlands for solid colors for ease of spinning. We LOVE the spotted Shetlands, but it's much more time consuming to spin spotted fleeces properly for sale, unless the spots fade out. Lerwick is solid colored. It remains to be seen if he'll fade. We love faders for the awesome dynamics the fleeces give you year to year. When this fleece came off, he was as black at the skinline as can be. Wooly Bear has begun to fade and has some grey in his fiber now, but Lerwick's dam Mona is still black. Maybe Lerwick will remain black? We'll see.

Lastly, both Wooly Bear and Mona have extremely friendly, gentle temperments. Mona is an excellent mother, birthing out twins this year seemingly effortlessly during hail and a bypassing tornado! We rely heavily on Mona as she is our flock matron. Where she goes, everyone goes. She's also our farm mascot, being the first to greet visitors, and last to say goodbye. Everyone remembers Mona! So far, Lerwick takes after his sire and dam in friendliness! He too, is gentle and calm.

Hope you enjoyed learning more about Lerwick, and seeing how he has grown!

No comments:

Post a Comment