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.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The future of Shetland sheep
Sometimes the hardest thing we do is maintain what we've got. The people of the Shetland Islands gave us a gift 31 years ago. The gift we received, that original flock of Shetland sheep, and the hope that flew over in the plane with it is a treasure.
When I think of hope, I think of the people who feared of losing the genuine Shetland sheep back in the 1970's and 1980's. That fear was running strong. Commercialism, cultural changes, economic shifts, disease...all were on the minds of those people. They had enjoyed a long run with this hardy and friendly little sheep that had lasted centuries, lifting their people and place out of obscurity and discomfort, into warmth and fame. How sad it must have been to see the sheep fading into something new, something lost from what it once was, beyond their control. I am sure this worry weighed heavy on the hearts of some, laying awake at night. So much hope was on that plane that fateful day. Hope that the sheep would remain unchanged, not afflicted by those pressures seen on the islands. So much work, so much history, so much care...
The hearts and hope of those people are in my heart tonight, as it is each time I linger in my flock, spin at my wheel, or knit such amazing yarn through my hands. The people of Shetland placed the care of their treasured sheep into strangers hands, on our continent. The hope they sent along in the plane that day must have been very powerful. I know that because I feel it. I'm a recipient not only of their sheep, but of their hope. I'm sure they were hoping we'd protect their little sheep, keep them going for future generations to discover, to relish, to love, as I have. I'm sure they were hoping their little sheep wouldn't be morphed into something new, as it was there.
It is with these thoughts clear in my mind that I am so relieved to hear that despite aggressive attempts by outside groups, the genuine Shetland sheep will indeed see continued protection through a very strong voice of our whole membership! For the second year in a row, the membership spoke very loudly and clearly!!!! WOW!! I am not alone in wishing to genuinely preserve and protect the genuine Shetland sheep. There is a large fraction of our continent who also deeply love this special sheep and who also wish to see it's future secure. The hope that rode along on the plane that fateful day is alive and well in North America! In fact, it's thriving!!! Shepherds coast to coast are dedicating themselves not just to genuine preservation of this amazing sheep, but to the preservation of the Shetland sheep's story over the last 31 years.
With this relief so fresh, I had to take several days to let it sink in. Yes, the sheep will be protected! That is top priority!
Here's what we've come to learn:
1. aggressive groups will come in, take control of everything, censor out the majority, and try to inflict unwanted change, all for some internal motivation they themselves desire.
2. such groups will change language around to sound like genuine protectors, thus dressing in wolves clothing...i.e. hooded red capes...please beware!!! Restoring the truths shouldn't be too hard, as most shepherds in North America understand, see, and recognize the 'morph-language',"morph-groups", and their "cull heavily" motto.
3. the membership spoke very clearly that genuine Shetland sheep are beautiful, worthy of continued protection, and VERY MUCH WANTED!!!!
4. that this genuine protection and preservation is under continual threat...what we have is always in peril of new threats lurking right before us in the shadows. As genuine protectors, we must work very hard to identify the wolves in the room, and strive to hold on to what we've got...outstanding little sheep who just plum don't need" improvement"!
The hope the people of the Shetland Islands sent along with that first flock to North America is fresh in my heart, and in the hearts of so many other shepherds throughout North America! Together, we diverted the latest threat of change morphing our sheep into a shiny new breed. Stay vigilant! But for now, take joy in knowing that the gift we've received, these sweet and diverse little sheep so many of us have come to love and cherish, will see a renewed commitment to genuine preservation and protection!!