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.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


More is coming about Swifty! Today, I'm working on finishing an order for Saturday. I managed to get all the tomatoes in, now I can start on the pears! Apples will be right behind that. Our storm damage will be getting fixed tomorrow, and more hay is coming as soon as we can get the big doors popped back out. I have some lovely new skeins of yarn to label and hope to have those at the market on Saturday. Lot's of fun things to do!

In finishing up thoughts on the festival, I've come to realize that the UK judges exhibited quite a lot that was similar to my own adherence to the 1927 Breed Standard. I still think that wavy means wavy, and that longish means longish. But the common ground covered all the rest, such as undersized animals or meaty animals can be kept, but you certainly shouldn't register or breed such Shetlands as purebred, for the breed standard clearly addresses those topics. Also, they were very surprised at the discussion on scadder, and reiterated quite vehemently that scadder is not grounds for disqualification...never has been. So my concluding thoughts are that most of the trendy changes we've seen pushed by a small group of people here in the Midwest are indeed just trends coming OUT of the midwest, and things NOT supported by the SSS, which put the UK judges in an interesting position. The presentation on Sunday of the festival was scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, and it went that long, perhaps a few minutes past noon, but most of the audience had left long before noon, including the group that hired the judges and brought them here. I thought it was nice, too, that one judge offered her own opinions as to the sheep and management, which frequently matched my own, and she also said she doesn't keep much of the super short fleeces on her farm, either, but she said that was just her preference. It was a good presentation and I'm really glad I went! (I was there Friday, and there was definitely tension in the barn after the judges talked...ram inspections? Something about tails not correct and fleece types...and retelling what was said accurately....then I was three hours north of the festival on Saturday but back for Sunday.)

I truly believe that our task at hand here in North America is a simple-sounding one, but in reality is an exceedingly difficult one, and that is to JUST PRESERVE AND PROTECT the breed from onslaughts of strong groups who find ways to change the breed without the greater membership's awareness. Remember the 2010 NASSA Board changing things in July 2010, but not publishing their changes until the January 2011 NASSA Newsletter?? That was over six months later!!! Remember the changed out photos on literature and the website? The flood of "new" history? The totally re-written judges packet? Appendix A? And the ongoing hijacking of the NASSA Chat list, where only certain people can participate...and hype? It was a total takeover.

Our Shetlands are a treasure, and they do not need "improvement". They are good mothers, hardy, do not need boatloads of corn to survive, won't starve on pasture, have virtually no disease or defects, have excellent temperaments, and they produce outstanding fiber that is perfect for handspinning, knitting, and wearing. Their colors are rich, intense, and exceptional. WHAT IS LEFT TO IMPROVE??? We've already got it all!!! Let's work to make sure people who sneak in and change that get sent the message that the genuine Shetland sheep is well loved and treasured! We don't want these changes! We don't want to narrow our diversity! We liked things just the way they WERE.

On an end note, since the person who suggested I learn how to spin by taking a class with Carol Rhoades, was the judge for the Shetland yarns... I wonder if she was aware of the fact that she got that job through my design of Shetland Showcase, and my personal goals of getting more people connected to the fiber through spinning and knitting (and remember? increase opportunities, to learn, to ease the tension, and to have fun)? Probably not! I guess when you design something, and another group steals your ideas, they just can't implement it with the tone and feeling you designed into it...

Someone else can sing the song....but it just doesn't sound the same...

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