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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Twilight goes to school!

Ok, THAT was fun!!! I LOVE doing these educational presentations! The kids were GREAT and were full of awesome and meaningful questions! And little Twilight was a GREAT ambassador for the breed tonight...on this, his very first outing.

I was worried about how it would all go. Turns out, today was very hot and humid...which snuck up on everyone. The poor sheep were really heat stressed out on pasture today. Thankfully, we set up the ram pen near trees so they were fine. The trees are outside their fence with plenty of root clearance, yet the way the sun moves across the sky, the pen is nicely shaded all afternoon.

But that's not where little Twilight was today. He was out grazing with all the other lambs and ewes...and Wilber. So I had to make a decision. It was just too hot to put him in a kennel for the ride in. It's a short ride to the school, where the meeting is held (5 minutes), but in this heat, it'd get to be too much pretty quick. So I decided to halter him and let him ride by the air conditioner under my feet. First, I haltered him, then let him explore that out on the lawn. He wasn't too fazed by it! The key to success here was that I was there the split second he was born. He has come to know me as the friendly human who is always there for him. I can catch him, pet him, and he follows me around. So I knew he'd be just the right candidate for tonight's job! Besides, he's just plain cute!

Wheely Wooly Twilight goes for a ride, to school!

Not fazed! He rode along very nicely. I talked to him, but I don't think he needed that. The cool air from the air conditioner did the most convincing that all was ok!

When we got there, our presentation was bumped up to the beginning so that he wouldn't get too hot in the building. We were grateful for that. As we walked into the gym, the kids instantly took to him! But I had asked that they all wait, and I'd give them a chance to pet him in the presentation. What GREAT kids!! They all listened so great! So we went up to the front and I gave the presentation. Twilight was positioned around lots of new stuff...not fazed! The floor was slippery. Not fazed! He quietly stood by my leg and looked around. He didn't leap or get worried or even baa. He just waited patiently for what was next. Look familiar? Wooly Bear (Twilight's Rampa) did this with me at the Sheep and Wool Festival MSSBA show a couple of years ago. Must run in the family! (giggle, giggle)
Ready Twilight?

The kids all came up to the front of the room, very excited to see him. Some sat directly in front
of us, others sat on the floor, on the side. They learned about the Shetland Islands, the sheep, the fiber, and I spun for them for a few minutes. It was a jammed packed presentation as I had only 20 minutes to give it! The kids were super fascinated with my spinning wheel! They asked lots of great questions on how it worked. Even the adults were asking great questions! Out of the whole crowd, questions were asked about the wheel, sheep, fiber, yarns, knitwear, and the islands. I never dreamed we could get so much content and dialogue in 20 minutes! I also passed around several skeins of yarn in different natural colors for everyone to see (as well as the Cat's Paw lace scarf and a crocheted flower). One of the skeins was dyed bright green from Kool-aid. I briefly joked that if we mix Kool-aid in the sheep's stock tank, their wool turns that color when they drink it (I meant to say like our tongue's do when we drink that stuff...but I forgot that part). Got some good giggles out of that one! Then I told them how I really make the yarn green. More giggles!

Then, I taught them how to "pet" a ram, and why. No hands on the head or horns! EVERY kid listened and did as we had asked! GREAT KIDS!! The whole room got to touch his fine fleece. Twilight never twitched or squirmed. He seemed fine with it. I think one Mom wanted to take him home...

This is what a Shetland sheep feels like.

We ran out of time long before we ran out of questions. The whole thing lasted 24 minutes...only four minutes over. Not bad! I hated to see the fallen faces when time ran out yet arms were still up, but other important business needed to be discussed as well. As we walked out, I let Twilight "walk". He has virtually no experience on the lead, yet he walked out as though he's been doing it all his life! (giggle, giggle) We took it 20 or so feet at a time, then stopped for positive reinforcement and a look around. He seemed so grown up! Once home, we put him back in the pen with the ewes, and all was back to normal! Thanks 4-Her's for being such a great crowd and listening so well! Hope you learned a lot and had fun! We really enjoyed sharing Wheely Wooly Farm with you!

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