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 11, 2012

Humming along

Can it be that I haven't posted yet this month?  There is never a shortage of things to do on a farm and I guess that's why.  Being an early weather pattern this year, things have hummed along quite nicely.  All the ewes had their lambs, and our lambing percentage is still right on at 125%!  I think it shows that we are successful at maintaining good Shetland stock, without crossbreds sneaking in.  We take pride in our success in this, and find much joy in bringing you genuine Shetland fibers in our yarns!

Speaking of fibers, I've been very busy with fibers!  Our shearing is complete, except one yearling who's rise could go a bit more before shearing.  All (but that one) of our 2012 fleeces are off the hoof, skirted, and stored neatly away on a new shelving system (thanks Lael, for the great idea there!).  Some of the fleeces are washed and spun already, labeled and ready for sale.  We've had a great fiber year this year, and are very pleased with the quality of fibers coming in our yarns!  Watch for them at the market!

So with all the shearing done (all by me with blades), and all the lambs born (with again, a zero mortality rate!!),   all hooves trimmed, and all the fleeces safely and nicely stored for summer spinning, on to the garden!  The tomatoes, corn, onions, radishes, petunias, peppers, marigolds, garlic, daylilies, potatoes, raspberries, blueberries, lettuces, spinach, beans, grapes, and dill are all planted and up nicely, or transplanted.  We moved an arbor, created new paths, had enriched the soil, and are weeding like mad to keep ahead of the vigor!  If only I had the vigor of those weeds!!!  All the lawn mowing equipment broke down this spring...pretty much at the same time....and is mostly fixed now.  Plus, fencing has been repaired and reinforced.

As if that wasn't enough work (!), the hay came early this year, so we began the process of putting up hay in the barn.  I love the work, but my eyes don't!  It's such a satisfying feeling to have hay in the barn.  We'll get more when second cut comes, so our work is not done there, yet.

The work of a farm is hard, and keeps on coming, yet we love it!  The rewards are soft fiber for making warm clothes, luscious fruit, velvety potatoes, sweet onions, fresh eggs, scrumptious milk and yogurt, and one of my favorites...the crows!  Have I introduced you to Winslow yet?  We offered him for sale, but who wants a lone rooster?  He'd be good for breeding if you are looking for good egg layers.  In the meantime, he gives us wonderful crowing...while standing on his tippy toes and squinting his eyes shut.  Yes, as he belts out his wonderful crows, he's usually standing on his upside down water dish, on his tippy toes, neck fully extended, and beak wide open (you can see right down the hatch...cover your ears!), all while squinting his eyes shut tight!  He's a crack up!

So now, the ewes and lambs are out grazing, with the lambs growing remarkably!  Oh!  I haven't introduced you to Hazel yet, have I?  Hazel is a little ewe lamb we have, whom I named after one of the world's fastest knitters, who happens to be from Shetland!  I surely hope the real Hazel doesn't mind having a cute little Shetland lamb named after her!!  I'll have to post pictures of our little Hazel and her twin brother soon.  His name has become "Tindall" somehow...I surely hope the real Hazel Tindall doesn't mind!  They are really cute twins...Hazel is moorit, fading up the fawn side, with Tindall black, who will probably fade up the light gray side. Perfect for Fair Isle knitting, just as the real Hazel is known for!  Stay tuned for more posting on these cute little Shetland twins!  Back to grass...our pastures are doing their job!!  This is the time of year where we become more grass farmers than fiber farmers.  The county fair is in our sights now, and the time has come to begin polishing things up for that.   I know that somewhere in there...time for rest will come...somewhere...I think...

...but not this week!  Strawberries are ready for picking, and we always get a bunch!  Yum!  Fresh strawberries and yogurt!  Makes my stomach growl.

Who's on my bobbin this week?  Last week, it was Mona.  This week it's Lacey.  Her fleece is positively dreamy!  It's a lovely moorit with creams and grays mixed in for a lovely heathery look.  Her fleece came in very fine, clean, and long with a beautiful wave.  After shearing her, I was absolutely DELIGHTED at how she's grown.  She has nice straight legs, a nice level topline, a beautiful balanced neck, and the bright Shetland expression.  Even her tail is Shetlandy nice!  She has a perky Shetland gait, but is very feminine. Lacey is out of Lerwick and Lil' Rainbow.  (For those of you new to our blog, did you know that the folks who run the WI Sheep and Wool Festival have used Wooly Bear's photo as a festival promotion?  Wooly Bear is Lerwick's sire, and Lacey's Rampa.)  Watch for Lacey's dreamy Shetland yarn coming soon!

Also coming, Claire's Marigolds!  Watch for this bright yarn!!!!

And most exciting of all is the market starts this coming Saturday!  How fun it is to see all of you again, and hear of the beautiful garments you've made with Wheely Wooly Farm Yarns over the winter and spring!   We have new things for you, and many lovely colors of yarns!  We're ready and looking forward to seeing you there!

Until then, happy summering everyone!

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