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.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Meet Pomander and Hyssop, two delightfully smart geese!

Fun!  Earlier this year, back at the end of summer, two beautiful geese came to live at Wheely Wooly Farm! We are very happy at getting them.  It was not easy.  Finding a goose to buy is not easy, but as fall came, ads started popping up offering geese for sale.  We did not get them from such an ad, rather, we knew the person who had them.  I had first seen them at this person's house earlier in the summer, and before that, I had heard she had baby geese.  I've wanted to get geese for a long time.  Finally, here they are!

The gander (male goose) is on the left.  The goose (female goose) is on the right.  She looks more feminine and is lighter all around.  They are called Pomeranian geese, which is a breed from overseas.  These two have feather markings known in the goose world as 'saddlebacked', for the gray coloring over their backs.  They have bright pinkish orange bills and legs which are bright and beautiful!  Their size is impressive considering they are just babies born this year!  Geese grow fast.  

The pomeranians were a popular breed extending from modern day Poland to Germany and all along the Baltic sea coastal areas.  They were/are considered a common farm goose well loved for their meat and feathers.  Interestingly, they come from basically the same region as the Friesian Sheep come from, maybe extending a little further east than the sheep do.  Of all the goose breeds available, I'm always fascinated that my choices tend to the regions of my ancesters, before I know where the breeds come from.  Fascinating stuff.

Pomander got his name because he is a POMeranian gANDER.  His size is impressive even though these geese are in the medium size class...meaning they are not the largest of the goose breeds.  I guess I'm just used to chickens. lol

HYSSop got her name from the idea that I surely hope she'll hiss at me someday!  I'm hoping they will pair up and give me goslings next spring.  I'm hoping she'll sit on a nest and be protective when I come quietly around in excitement...and hiss in defense of her eggs.  You never know with geese, so we'll see.

In the months and weeks they've been here, many common attitudes about geese have been completely dissolved.  For example, they do not attack you!  I'm sure they would if I was mean to them, but if you give them what they need, they'll hang around and enjoy your company just as you enjoy theirs.  Second, they do not require a boatload of work!  In fact, they've been the easiest animal on the farm!  They graze grass and do not need supplemental feed.  They do not fly away, so do not require expensive fencing.   We put them in the barn at night and they spend their days outside snoozing and grazing.  They are peaceful...well, that is except the morning run out of the barn, in which they honk in delight!  Always a joy to see them happily heading out for a day of grazing.  Also, they are NOT stupid!  They are very bright and alert, easy to train, and easy to herd anywhere you want them to go.

Yes, we are enjoying our geese!  I can see why they were so loved and useful to normal farms and families over the centuries.  So what do geese have to do with sheep?  This IS a sheep farm blog afterall!  Stay tuned to learn why on earth sheep would need geese nearby!

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