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, September 10, 2012

Two skeins left & Busy weekend!

 Claire's 'Blue Ice'...only two left so get 'em while you can!

It's been another very busy weekend for us here on Wheely Wooly Farm!  Saturday was the busyness of market day.  Friday was a very fun trip to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.  The day started out very overcast and rainy which was so refreshing and much needed!  I could leave the farm without worry, knowing my livestock and chickens would not need extra tending due to high heat.  It is always so much fun going to the festival and connecting up with sheepy friends and their year!  The price of hay and culls was definitely to main topic this year.  Nearly everyone I talked to had to feed their winter's hay this summer, leaving their barns and hay stacks sparse. And let's not forget the fun of shopping!  This year, I picked up some really cute t-shirts with spinning embroidery on them.  I always want to get them, but hold off.  I'm not much of a t-shirt wearer, but the embroidery on them is just so cute, I couldn't resist!   You'll see one of them at the end of this post.  I spent much less overall, though, as worry is in the hearts of nearly everyone.  The other main topic?  Politicians are sure disconnected with the nation!!!!!!!!!!!

Here in Wisconsin, the economy is downward spiraling, at it showed this weekend.  First, I had to pay $3.93 a gallon for gas!  I know that's cheap for big city dwellers, but around here, that's NUTS!  Then, to get into the festival, I had to pay two dollars more per person.  Ouch!  Prices are rising everywhere, while incomes and jobs are still dwindling and spiraling downward. (Speaking of rising prices, I am SOOOOOOOOO thankful my sheep don't need corn to survive and grow!!!!!!  My corn-fed sheepy friends are in misery at the 70% scalding increase in corn around here...and in one case, 100% increase, despite the fact that America has massive reserves and stockpiles of old corn, and barges are FULL of corn just sitting and going nowhere along the low Mississippi waters, and that Wisconsin will only be down about 20 bushels per acre than a bumper year!  Good thing we had saved to make this trip!  I didn't buy as much in the store this year though...with the hyperactivity of commodities.  Our hay prices were scalding!  But we haven't raised the price of our yarns yet.  Hope we can avoid that.  And I missed some of the vendors of festival's past.  It wasn't the same without them!    But there was plenty to look at and enjoy!  I did pick up a dry-erase message board that is a huge magnet for the fridge, with sheep on it.  We shopped and had fun.  We also noticed that some things have been downsized this year, many pens were missing, and Friday night was dead.  Where were all the incoming sheep?  Whole barns were completely empty and silent!  Friday evening is usually a hub-bub of incoming trailers, excited people and many baas. That was disappointing when you pay to get in to see sheep, and nobody is there!  I guess in this economy, the festival is becoming a one day event for sheep.

In the "Shetland barn" I talked to a few people and saw a few sheep from the core group of campers who are trying to make a go of something new.  How refreshing to not have to worry about things so much this year... like what the sheep look like!  I think it is really nice that the group so unhappy with the amazing genuine sheep has finally taken our advice and struck out on their own!  Now they are free to sculpt and design their own sheep just the way they like them, and don't have to worry about people like me who want to keep and maintain genuine, historical Shetlands.  I hope they can enjoy their situation, although I've heard the contrary is true.  NASSA's name was completely removed from all signage and advertising this weekend, so they have begun the process of building something new here in the heart of the midwest.  They have a wonderful opportunity to begin a new breed so I hope they embrace that and find joy in the process.  They can build from the ground up, which should surely bring joy!  I know I wish them well and hope they succeed in their dreams.  I can say that because:

a)  they are using my Shetland Showcase (a design I'd like to see succeed!) to build a conflicting breed  in hopes of competing with the genuine Shetland sheep and
b)  I'm just a really nice person!  I genuinely hope, for the sake of their heart health and families, that they can settle down and create their dream sheep in their new, fresh realm, with their modern parameters.

  Meanwhile, I can walk through the barns and just enjoy seeing what they are producing, knowing that my sheep's genetics, the history and textiles that go along with them, and NASSA are secure.

Speaking of NASSA, I've learned that things were worse in the last few years (during the hostile takeover) than even I knew.  No stone was left unturned in creating a new organization, and creepy new rules and hidden "extravagances" for a select few were the norm with that group.  Even I am surprised by what has been uncovered and cleaned up!  And I feel bad for old friends who were caught up in it and are now, well, out.  I am soooooo thankful for the actions of this current board in cleaning up the mess and restoring the organization back to it's original mission...WITH INTEGRITY!  They are re-building an organization that can once again be trusted in business and management, one that is fair to each and every member who pays dues, and one that allows members and their flocks to thrive without censorship, hostility, or changed facts.  It took a lot of hard work to restore things but they did it!  Things just really couldn't have turned out better for us AND for the other group!  As the dust settles, it's time to enjoy, raise lambs, spin, knit, and snuggle in the warmth of our new clothes!
 Pretty Posie, grazing last night
She's Claire's lamb, and her fiber is on the wheel right now.

On Sunday, we stayed home as expenses were just too high to justify another drive.  Plus, we had the pressure of the 4-H Record Book looming!  Tonight is the deadline and the book has to be finished and turned in. Last year, she won the Record Book Award, and is hoping to again this year.  In spending a whole year in building records, my Poygan Go-Getter's book is THREE INCHES thick!  Giggle, giggle!  It takes a lot of time to keep up with her dreams!  Let's's just after lunch on Monday and she has....five hours left to complete it!  Gulp!  Seven top trophies, five champion ribbons, seventeen firsts, two seconds, and one fourth take a LOT of documenting!  It's been a great year!!!!!
Isn't this just sooooo cute!

And finally, here is one of the really cute t-shirts I bought.  I just LOVE this, as it so aptly describes the true heirloom Shetland sheep!  If you want one, you can contact Sunnymeade Woolies at  The owner, Bonnie, also owns a few Shetlands. 

Oh, and I almost forgot...Lacey's yarn is nearly sold out as well...only 2 or 3 skeins left so if you were hoping to get her yarn from this year's fleece, you can email us at or pick them up at the market.  See you then!

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