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, July 25, 2011

Speaking of airplanes...Dailley sheep and EAA



As I sit here on my (usually) peaceful farm, I am quite conscious of the continuous diving and banking of airplanes overhead....airplanes that are going up......coming down......going up.....coming they practice all of their stunt movements. Frequently, a plane starts flipping sideways over and over, or diving straight for the ground...or going straight up, stalling out, and tumbling nose first back to the ground before the pilot fires up the engine again and pulls out of it. You see, starting today, we are having the world's largest airshow on the planet! It's called EAA, or the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual gathering. This show draws in the biggest names in the airplane biz...from astronauts to Boeing execs to amazing former WWII pilots (and their planes with nearly naked girls painted on the sides) to hurricane radar planes to stunt pilots and wing walkers name it! They are all here! This event also draws celebrities...this year, George Lucas is apparently coming since he is/was? working on a film on the Tuskeegee? Airmen. The event attracts up to nearly 1 million visitors, although this year attendance is expected to be very low...around 580,ooo. Planes come in from around the globe and line up in the sky waiting for their turn to land on our little runways. Airplane wings become tent shelters as thousands of private craft line up and stake down in fields that become overnight plane campgrounds. The city becomes a buzz of foreign languages...absolutely FUN to hear all the people talk...or try to! You can sit down to eat a brat and find youself in casual conversation with a commercial pilot from a major German airline (one of the many experiences I've had...) The traffic in town becomes impossible, and you see $500,000 rigs with crystal chandilers dangling inside pull up next to you at the stoplight and you wonder who's inside THAT one!....Pat Parelli???? Hey Pat and Linda! You can hide out on MY farm! Pull your rig into my pole building! Enjoy Carumba! She's SOOO much fun!...oh yea....back to sheep and airplanes....

Having grown up in the city that puts this airshow on each year, I've had the opportunity to visit the grounds for free on many occassions. While I've not had the opportunity to shake hands with Buzz Aldrin or any shuttle pilots, I have had some absolutely amazing experiences there! The most memorable one BY FAR is the day I saw the Stealth flying just before me! That day, I was driving down a busy two lane street, and nearly crashed my truck!!! No one knew when it would arrive, for everything surrounding the Stealth's arrival was secretive. When it did come in, the whole city was in an excited panic! Radios blared it's presence, people ran out of their houses to see, and cars stopped in the middle of the street to see it fly by! It was the NEATEST thing I've ever seen! Straight out of Batman, the Stealth was flying low, just above and in front of me. It was flying slow, silent...and looked absolutely out of place in this world....straight out of science fiction or something! It had the most amazing presence in the air....and as it approached me, it began to bank....and I nearly crashed my truck! I did manage to pull over to the curb and watch it as it slowly flew away...only to realize after it was out of sight and I began to recover from what I just saw, that other cars didn't make it to the curb....they were stopped right in the road and everyone was stunned. That was a very cool experience!

Other years, I've jumped onboard Navy Seal helicopters and Coast Guard helicopters, hurricane radar planes (the ones that fly through the hurricane and the eye), and the Concorde, that huge and super fast plane that has been banned from the skies military cargo planes and little private planes and ultralights. (In fact, there are LOTs of ultralights around this week...and the biggest thing I've learned from them is their constant little engines WILL give you a headache fast.) I've had the opportunity to shake hands with trim, handsome young pilots who've flown through hurricanes, delivered military ammunition to war zones, rescued people out at sea, spyed on foreign countries, delivered everyday people to a destination on commercial aircraft, to WWII and Korean War pilots who were shot up and experienced....well...the H word, to fire jumpers who fly over wildfires and dump retardants. I've sat in the pilot's cockpit (of many planes and helicopters) and looked at the array of instruments with wonderment, noticing the deadly words labeling certain buttons and switches.... I've put on pilot suits and floatation devices and jet suits, just for fun! I've also flown on a little wooden bi-plane...ok...I was scared! It was soooo slow and creaky! You can go up in the blimp if you have the moola, or you can ride in a helicopter, or one year, when the amazing Concorde was here, if you had the moola, you could spend 45 mintues!!!!!!!!!!!!!! flying up to Canada and back with a sonic boom!!!!! EAA is always fun for everyone even if you know nothing about engines or fusalage...which can get extremely boring after awhile! But then comes the Harrier! That 's the plane that can hover in place over a spot, then begin flying off!!! UNREAL!! LOUD! AWESOME!! People were screaming in amazement, but you couldn't hear them! Let's not forget the F1 fighter planes that come every year and play Top Gun...aviation IS indeed exciting!

So what does all this have to do with sheep? Well, I'm a horse person....well....I WAS until my little Shetland sheep came along! It was super fun to go inside the seeming mouths of the monstor cargo planes and see how horses are flown around the world. I would imagine the original flock of Shetland sheep that Col. Dailley had flown in from England would have had a ride similar to big boxes perhaps? Don't know...but I did get to see how the boxes are loaded and secured on the plane, and how the animals are cared for during turbulence and such. FUN! You see, I am most into the Dailley flock because that flock went through a ridiculous amount of documentation! Their history is rock solid. The Dailley flock was brought to North America by a man who specialized in international animal transport, of whom his family has carried on. That flock is so heavily documented, there is no doubt they are the real deal, rock solid, unlike other supposed 'imports'. We often think today that all the government paperwork and red tape is such a headache and so time consuming, but after it's said and done, I can see now how advantageous all that documentation has turned out to be! The Dailley flock contains REAL Shetland sheep, with heavy documentation to prove it. And I can easily visualize what that original flock's flight must have looked/felt like! The way their container was strapped down inside the plane. Where the flock's keepers would have to sit, and what the noise must have been like, the take off in such a huge plane, lifting so high in front of you with the rear so low!.
Aviation has created a massive shift in humanity, both good and bad. It is swift and all encompassing. It's exciting, enormously helpful, the case of the year I got to nearly TOUCH the Enola Gay, overwhelmingly, unshakably sad. But I think it goes without saying...nearly EVERY subject, nearly EVERY place I now visit, becomes related to sheep! Those sweet, endearing, powerfully raming sheep! Even airplanes.

This year's big highlight is Boeing's new 787 airliner, supposedly an airship so sophisticated and luxurious that it is exceptional. If you live anywhere in Wisconsin or surrounding states, I highly recommend you get to EAA!

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