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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What do you think, Swifty?

Yep, yep, I'm ready! What'll it be?? Sheep? Flippy? Sheep, Flippy, Ball, Stick?
Hey Swifty! Where'd ya go?
Yep, yep! I'm ready! Sheep? Flippy? Got my eyes on it! I'm ready!
Atta Boy! I don't call 'im Swifty for nothin!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Genuine Shetland Wool Is So Pretty!

Genuine Shetland Wool
Handspun, Handknitted
With Crocheted Flower

Genuine Shetland Wool is what we produce here on Wheely Wooly Farm, and we are very dedicated to keeping the heritage in our sheep. In the lovely hat above, you can see why! We work hard to bring you such beautiful yarns and garments simply because it's so rewarding! I have a lot of fun playing around with the possibilities of the colors. This hat, by the way, is not dyed wool, but rather the sheep's natural color. That natural color blends so beautifully with so many other things that I decided to try another color...

Same Genuine Shetland Hat, new crocheted flower
Wouldn't you like a warm, pretty hat like this?

Oh the possibilities are endless! Shetland sheep are so much fun if you are interested in history and textiles!

Who's this?
Why it's Hepatica! Henry's twin sister!
Isn't she cute?

Hepatica is named for the woodland flower that blooms around here...just about in this "time" of year, when the spring peepers start calling and the evenings are warm. Hepatica blooms in the woods in spring, before the leaves pop out on the trees above it. It naturalizes an area, building colonies of bouquets. It's a small flower, only growing a few inches above ground level. We LOVE the spring woodland flowers of our area, so we make it a point to search for them each spring, just to be able to say we've seen them this year. It's an annual spring tradition, inspired by my Grandmother, who took me around hand in hand to search for them when I was a little girl.

Henry and Hepatica are two cuties that we've enjoyed having very much. Henry has airplane ears that float sideways out of his head, while Hepatica's ears are more upright (although in this photo of her, they seem less so). They come from very good genetics that we are proud to have on our farm.

I hope Hepatica doesn't eat the flower off the hat before you get a chance to see the photos!

Such silliness.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who's this?

Why it's Henry!

Meet Henry! He's a cute little guy! He's all white but has airplane ears that float like leaves on the sides of his head. Today, he's seven days old! Meet his twin sister next time, so more to come!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

GASP!! We have bud break!

I've never seen it before! Bud break in MARCH!! We have leaves popping out all over the place...lilacs, flowering trees, Cupcake (kitty) tree by Coopville, and even some fruit trees. Oh no!

Let's hope things go ok over the next several weeks temperature wise, so we don't lose so many landscape plants!

I found the cord for my camera so pictures will be coming along soon as those batteries charge up good. I pruned the summer raspberries (shame on me for not getting that done last fall...) and fertilized them good after weeding under them. They are a new bed that is just getting established. The bad part is that it's not near Coopville like the fall bearing canes, so the hens do not think to weed it for me.

Meanwhile, watching the squirrel eat the newly minted maple leaves, I'm plying as much yarn as I can. It feels good to sit by the window and hear the birds while I spin. I've had lots of laundry out on the line as well, so the fragrance of that drifts into the window from time to time, too. How pleasant!

I've been enjoying my morning cup of coffee on the front porch without a jacket. Can you imagine that? The last several years, we still had vicious winter storms and frigid temps, with snow piled high. I shudder just thinking about it!...

Nature never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Wow Kapow!

We are having just the most fantastic spring weather I could ever dream of! Last Friday nite, we cooked out on the campfire...on March 16th! That is surely the only time in my lifetime I'll get to do that! We wore t-shirts with short sleeves and were perfectly comfortable. Afterwards, we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. It was a great memory.

Since we are in June-like weather rather than the nasty grip of unforgiving winter like the last several years, spring jobs are actually getting done this year. How nice that is. Each day, I work at getting one more thing done so that by week's end, much has been accomplished. The fruit trees are getting good prunings and so are the shrubs, things are getting cleaned up, windows are getting washed, and the tractor started easily. Is THIS what spring could be like??? I like it!

Musical barn has begun. Pens have been rearranged, with some new ones built and old ones taken down. Some animals were combined, others were...well...not! The littles and the littlelittles have new play spaces with new things to hop on. And cute little pony thought he could clear a chain link gate...only to find out that he couldn't......

We are now less one gate...

We have two more new little chicks here at the farm...two little buff silkies...hens hopefully! They are so cute! I'll have more photo heavy blogs coming up as soon as I find that cord for the camera!

We have other new things to report, but I'll wait until the pictures are ready. Wait 'til you see!

Someone made her very first pie today! And can you believe, the bluebirds have been here a whole week already? I've never seen them here so early. They are singing so much, you'd think we were on a set for a Hollywood western.

The sheep are gleeful creatures these days. The ewes are out on pasture, just ahead of green up. Yes!!! I wrote green up!!! Our grass is turning green. We've never had ewes on pasture before lambing...this is a first! Is THIS what spring could be like??? I'm getting real used to this! Lil' Rainbow is very leapy these days! She stays very close with her ewe lamb from last year, Lacey. Together, they move all around the pasture, grazing, running, and bursting with happiness. Mona and her ewe lamb from last year are the same. That little ewe is Maewyn. They are all so cute together! And the rams have settled down from their spring sillies, compliments to the nearly eighty degree weather! Wooly Bear really looks forward to his daily scratches through the fence I give him. He'll chase anyone else away if they come for a turn. Wooly Bear IS king of the farm, afterall!

Meanwhile, I cleaned out the back porch that was full of snowpants, mittens, boots, and all the winter trip hazards, hung up the sled, cleared out the stashed gooey rotten pumpkins hidden away (WHAT are THESE DOING IN HERE!!!), washed the curtains, and HUNG THEM ON THE CLOTHES LINE TO DRY! Aaaahhhh!! I just love the smell of fresh clean laundry just off the line! I've never hung things on the line in March before! I'm getting REAL used to this weather!! I scrubbed Swifty's kennel, and got rid of the winter bed for kitties they use on those super cold nights. Swifty helped with the clean up by chewing off the rim of his dish...his way of spring cleaning I guess!

Can you believe the spring peepers have been calling for nearly a week now? And the heat has been off even longer. Daytimes bring open windows with fresh breezes...boy...I'm getting REAL used to this!!!!

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?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We're in Spin-off!

We here at Wheely Wooly Farm are pleased to announce that we have been published in the Spring 2010 issue of Spin-off Magazine! Look us up! You'll find us on page 6, under the title: Spinning for the Next Generation.