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.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

All things spring!....

Wait! Is it spring already?? Wow! I can hardly believe it's March already. Things are flying along here on Wheely Wooly Farm!

First is the weather! We've had lots of very windy days of late. Around here, that is a real advantage! All that wind is drying up the snow we got a week ago, and helping the frost come out of the ground. The sheep were able to be outside nearly all winter, but are now finally kept off the soggy ground. They seem ok with that, for they don't like being in mud anymore than I do! The chickens have also been out most of the winter. Today was the most challenging day to be out I think they've had since I don't know when, for you see, the wind was blowing so hard, I think they were getting dust baths just walking across the grass! Their feathers were blown apart as if they were being dried with a blow dryer, exposing their bright pink skin...and skittering the poor hens sideways. The sun was so bright, and the air so suddenly warm (61 degrees here by late afternoon) they were reluctant to take shelter from the wind. I'm sure the poor girls are sleeping well on their perch tonight!

Our little 4-H project is coming along nicely, with endless giggles and surprises. What fun that has been! The babies are growing fast. I don't think I've laughed this much in years! They are mischievous!! Next to come is some lambing in the weeks ahead. This year, I staggered our lambing season and I'm already relieved I did that! Maybe this year, I'll have time to sweep the rug by the back door or thaw a blueberry muffin! Shearing will come even later, except for Claire. Claire is not a Shetland so her fleece can be sheared whenever I feel it's at it's best for harvesting. I have already made plans for the wool and can't wait! So this week, Claire's shearing is on the "to do" list, and it sounds like I'll have dream weather for the task.

The rams have gotten the spring sillies...don't know what's gotten into them! We've had more remodeling projects around here than I think we've ever had. The last couple of days they've been back to contentment, even when it was cold and windy. Let's hope it stays that way! They are a very quiet group normally, even after breeding season. Wooly Bear loves his clan, seeming happiest at the top of clan mountain. He IS king of this farm afterall! Wilbur has also gotten more sillies in his head. He found a nice sapling near the barn that I hoped the sheep would chew away. Sure enough, he's working diligently on it...causing the long, flexible sapling branches to snap into the metal wall over and over with a huge whapping sound each time! Makes it sound like we're in the midst of a hurricane if you happen to be in the barn at that moment...

The next question to ask is did the cat staff get soooo FAT! I mean, it's not like they've been sleeping all the time! Oh I see...they are helping themselves to Swifty's nice, fancy, expensive DOG chow! Never a dull moment on Wheely Wooly Farm! ( tail sticking out of the top of the bag with very far away sounding crunching sounds...)

So in between all these adventures, I've been in the house, looking out at all the mud, and thinking gee...wouldn't some spring colors be nice? So out came the dye pot and all the fun began! I've been dying wool and having a ball, all while keeping a spare eye out the window to count rams....

...and so while I'm outside sailing off flippy throws for Swifty to chase, I'm noticing that the spring birds are migrating a little FAST this year! As I stand there...with one eye on those rams...I'm noticing robins, killdeer's, sandhill cranes, red-winged blackbirds, and others sailing so fast overhead that it seems they couldn't land even if they wanted to. I've never seen geese move so fast! This year, migration is like those F-1 Fighter jets...loud and gone over the horizon before you know it 'cept the crook in your neck.

Back in the house, I've had bread going, yarn soaking, and the dyepot going, all while spinning in the leftover free time, among other sweeping the rug in front of the back door for the UMPTEENTH time in the last hour. A busy farm house has a best kept secret tool...a good ole' fashioned corn broom. Wait...head count in the ram pen...all good. I've got my flock box all set and loaded up with fresh supplies for lambing sitting near the back door. I should get some good carabeeners to attach it to my new zip line to the barn....just kidding! Both of my shears are nicely sharpened, but I've lost my shearing board...better find it before DH does....and my skirting tables are lined up and waiting. I also spun up some extra fleeces and am now sitting with a cup of coffee...pondering where I'm going to put my freshened inventory. (Quick glance out the window...head count....)

Also, we have some musical barn planned in the time ahead. We're cleaning out some things and rearranging some pens to make things more efficient around here. Of course, efficiency here is a misnomer because no matter how fast I can get chores done, I end up stalling around with the animals anyway, for they are so nice to be around and we all enjoy them.

...and the new chicks are here! We are trying Dominiques and Cuckoo Marans this spring...with Delawares coming later. Fun!! I like heritage sheep and I like heritage chickens. Wait...peak out the window for head count in the ram pen...

And last, we've been inspecting and fixing fences lately. One charger got a fresh battery, one fence got new line holders, and one net is RIPPED! Yes, ripped!! I couldn't believe it! A wild animal must have become entangled in the net at night, and ripped it apart to free itself. This net was set up INSIDE the horse fence. know, it's pretty tough to RIP the net. Must have been something bear? Aaaaaggghhhhh!!!! Good thing the charger was put away that night.

You know...since I've planned our lambing season to be later this year...and the fact that spring is coming EARLIER this year...maybe I won't have to be so worried about those bears...right?

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