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, December 30, 2013

To Market, To Market

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season!  Quick announcement:  we will be at the market this coming Saturday and hope to see you then!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wooly, Fuzzy Landscape

Wow!  I've never seen it like this!
It was beautiful
Trees seem more like single-legged sheep than trees...

These photos were taken yesterday here on our farm.  Moist air had come in, leaving everything looking like a winter wonderland!  Today, the storm predicted to hit us wasn't so bad.  We got a few inches, but everything is 'winter-normal'.  Hope the storm did not bring bad times to any of you out there!  It truly IS a very, very, very nice time to stay home and knit! lol

P.S....yes, new knitting needles ARE on my list! lol  Seems the actually DO wear out!

Friday, December 20, 2013

More Favorite Things

 Socks!  These are from our ewe, Sweetie.
 Bobbins FULL of wooly yarns in lovely Shetlandy colors!
...and reminders inside of how special sheep are to humanity.

Sheep have been with us historically for thousands of years.  Humans and sheep just go of my favorite things!

The holidays are fast approaching!  Are you ready?  If you need last minute yarn for gifts, just email us and we can help you out!  Seems like the midwest will be hit with unruly weather the next few days.  Hope all of you have a safe and happy approach to the holidays and be careful out there!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A few of my favorite things...


Not just any yarn though!  I like REAL yarn, the kind that comes from sheep.  Why?  It is amazing stuff to handle and is incredibly high performance in a garment.  Good, real yarn inspires ideas.  Life is never boring.  There are always new ways to use it, create with it, wear it, be warm with it, share it.  Sheep are such nice animals, and raising fiber is pleasant for people, and sheep.  It's amazing stuff, amazing culture, and amazing nature all in one.  Those are definitely a few of my favorite things!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Pelt for Sale - $115.00

Unique and beautiful!!
Shetland Pelt for sale $115.00 plus ship/handling fee
Wisconsin residents add 5 % tax

Dimensions:  length (left to right in photo) 29 inches to 33 inches
                    width (top center of photo to bottom center) 22 inches at widest point

This lovely pelt shows the beginnings of change in Shetland color from a nearly black dark brown to a softer dove gray.  Very unique!

If you are interested in purchasing this special and unique pelt from our small family farm, click on our email link on the right side of the blog and send us an email. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Headband Pattern $2.95 + tx or free with yarn purchase

Use with any colors you like!

Our Wheely Wooly Farm Headband Pattern is also for sale for $2.95 + 5% sales tax, or it's free with a purchase of a skein of yarn!  We also recommend the 'Headband Kit', which includes the trim yarn for the crocheted border and a matching pre-made crocheted flower. (The Headband Kit sells for $3.95 + tx)  The pattern does not include instructions for the flower.  The kit colors are constantly changing, so email for color availability.  

If you'd like to use your own spun yarn, chose either a light worsted or DK (Number 3) to worsted or aran or medium(Number 4) weight yarn.  The crocheted border can be made with any fine or fingering (Number 1) weight yarn.

In this photo, I've used Gracelyn's stunning yarn.  She was born a moorit, but has faded to this super unique and stunning light gray with a sheen like silk!  It's so lovely paired with this Lake Michigan blue color!  These two colors together are so pretty in January, when everything is icy and blue skies return!

Sometimes, we have Headband Kits and patterns for sale at the market.  Watch for availability!  These headbands are popular with all ages and make great gifts for christmas!  Once you learn how to make them, you can make a couple in an evening.  Everyone loves a handmade gift...especially one that keeps you warm...with style!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Headband Season

Color, comfort, and style all in one!

Headband season is upon us and who can resist these stylish Shetland headbands?  The colors pop on gray, dreary days plus they are very comfortable to wear, perfect for shopping, errands, social events, or simply heading to work.  The black fiber is all natural color, meaning the black color will never fade, bleed, or wash out so you don't ever have to worry that in washing, the brighter colors will get dingy as synthetic fabrics do.  We make these headbands in many colors, with each one being completely handmade.  When I say completely, check this out!

Each sheep is lovingly cared for on a small family farm, where the sheep are tended every day.  They are never left out overnight, so that our native wildlife can do what they need to do at night and the shepherd can still sleep, dreaming sweet dreams rather than blood curdling dreams.  During wicked blizzards with extreme below zero cold or dangerous tornadic storms, the flock is brought in, as these weather conditions simply do not exist in Shetland sheep homelands and we'd rather not put them through that stress.  The flock is lambed out each spring, which is natural and healthy behavior for animals, with some ewes getting rest years as needed.  Number of lambs is not as important to us as healthy ewes.  The flock is sheared by hand each spring, on specially selected days so that each sheep's health is not compromised, but rather benefits from a good spring haircut.  Most of the wool is immediately assessed and processed, by hand, immediately after shearing, and is often completely spun up and ready for sale three weeks later, depending on suitable drying times (spring weather is unpredictable that way around here).

On top of all that labor and love, we engage in rotational mob-type grazing here.  It's a LOT of work, as we are frequently moving fencing.  Mob-type grazing is extremely good for the land AND the sheep.  As a result, our pastures have improved, the soil has improved, and we have less parasite worries.  The land is treated as though a herd of deer moved through, with cloven hooves aerating the soil, grass loped off (which regenerates it), and natural fertilizers left behind to feed the roots of the plants.  It's a perfect system that can go on and on, as long as the shepherdess has the energy in heat, humidity, and mosquitos to rotate the fence!  lol  It's a labor of love, and very rewarding when the sheep run out the next morning to fresh, new grass.  They positively sparkle with happiness!  It's moments like that when the shepherdess ends up standing with the sheep, just relishing the simplicity of it and the flock's happiness.  I usually get stuck there. :)

Anyway, if you are looking to be warmer this winter with a sense of style, and a desire to make a lifestyle choice and statement that reduces your impact on the very biological world that feeds and sustains us, these headbands are the right choice for you!  And they are an awesome deal at just $12. 95 each, plus 5% tax!!  Email us for availability (link on the right side of blog).  Hurry though, as this price will be going up soon! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy, happy, happy

...give the dog a bone...

As the nights get longer, and colder, the shepherdess looks forward to cozy evenings in the warm farmhouse with some good knitting, good hours to spin, or a good book.  Perhaps some baking is in store...maybe an apple crisp with ice cream to follow up some scrumptious marinated lamb and home grown baked vegetables with warmed apple sauce.  The newspaper came and is waiting to be read...

Waaiiiiitttt aaaaaaa mmmiiinnnuuttteee!

What's wrong with this picture?  LOL!  As Swifty sails through the house, bounds over the sofa as if it's a track hurdle, dashes after the cat then runs away as the cat gleefully chases him, the poor dreamy shepherdess is thinking this is not quite what she had in mind!  Claws dig into the carpet, rugs go flying, shoes disappear.  Splashes of water appear in streaks across the floor, trip hazards appear unexpectedly out of no where, and the cat chow magically disappears.  Next thing I know, I'm a dog bed.

Good thing shepherdesses have boxes of things for emergencies!  For the sheep, there are bottles of goo, orange powder, long straws, cans with blue spray and all sorts of other interesting things.  For the sheep dog, there isn't much.  The balls have all rolled away, the frisbees have all been lost, and the squeaky toys have been...well...misplaced.  And unfortunately, the sticks have to stay outside.  All that's left is something that lights up the shepherdess's eyes as though she's seen a $100. bill...a bone!  There's a BONE in here!  Thank goodness for the bone!

But there's bad news...there's only ONE bone in there!

Can dogs believe in Santa Clause?  Can shepherdesses?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's Tradition!

 Don't stuff yourselves!

We've been putting out this beloved shot of Wooly Bear now for many years.  He surely loves his autumn pumpkin treats!  His horns are MUCH longer now, and are beginning to curl around a second time, giving his age away.  We LOVE this ram, and will keep him as long as he lives.  He continues to get ewes in the fall, and as usual, we can't wait to see what he gives us next year!  When paired with different ewes, he gives us rich, amazing fleece colors that please spinners and knitters alike.  He's a very docile fellow and an easy keeper and we are so happy to have him!
....the latest knitting work...

During the holiday weekend, if I get any moments to knit, I'll be finishing this second mitten.  The yarn is actually a giant, bulky singles yarn spun by a youth, but it's remarkably even in gauge in all but a few places.  Different colors of roving were added to the yarn as the spinner worked along, giving the yarn an unpredictable and fun color, to which I'm adding softer grays in spots by picking up new yarn.  The first mitten is done already, thumb and all.  Here, I'm about to start the left hand thumb increases, at which time, I'll pick up the pretty mango yarn again.  The two mittens in the pair will not be alike, yet they will be the same yarns.  For a kid on a farm...FUN! :)

Hope you all have a super nice Thanksgiving everyone, and safe travels to your destinations!  And we'll put the word out right away, as soon as we know, if we'll be at market!  We had to slow things down in Oct. and Nov. due to circumstances in the family, but we'll be back to market now as soon as there is space available.  Happy Feasting!

Monday, November 25, 2013

So where DID we go?

To a place with spooky fish...
 ...scuba divers overhead... ferry rides full of oxygen and fresh air...
 ...thunderous waterfalls...
 ...and great beaches for walks with the dogs...

So where'd we go?  Seattle!  What a gorgeous city!  We had a great time and were busy putting on miles every single day.  I loved the ferries, as I grew up on the water.  I loved the beaches, a rock hound's paradise!  I loved the fragrant air, and the cool but mild cedar-scented air.  Thanks to our family for being such great hosts and spending the whole week with us, showing us all around!  It was a great trip!

And now, we are back to the chilly midwest, freezing and dreading those nasty frozen water buckets again!  Saturday night, we were just a few ticks above zero.  Yuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank goodness for WOOL! lol  I'm wearing my Mona hat, Maewyn's mittens, Redwood's scarf, my new lavendar Romney socks, and my down coat.  It's the only way to survive out there!  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Coolest leg bands I've ever seen...

So where'd we go?  To a place that has THE coolest legbands for poultry I've ever seen! lol
Ok...we cracked up at this one!

Some of you readers might recognize this rooster...or perhaps might have even been the one to create the best leg bands I've ever seen.  Where is this?  Oh, I can't reveal it that fast!  For those of you who do not know this fellow, he's a giant rooster that stands nearly five feet tall.  This picture was taken exactly one week ago today and the flowers there were still gloriously blooming!  I felt a strong need to breathe in all the fresh oxygen we felt in this place.  Very refreshing.  Very unforgettable.

So yes, we've missed a few markets.  We've had some circumstances in our family that kept us from the market earlier in the season, then this trip right on the tail end of those circumstances.  There was sadness, and the fun of flying away all rolled up into a tight few weeks of time.  We hope to be back at the market soon, and if so, we'll post if we can.  

In the meantime, things have quieted down here.  The breeding groups are apart and the rams settled back down.  No one has splintered any wood for awhile now.  Our grazing is completely done and snow is on the ground today.  A little freezing would be a good thing now, as the mud would dessicate and turn hard, rather than the continous mud we've had after heavy rains.  Thus the peaceful time begins, as we wait for lambing to begin after the new year.

Speaking of holidays, can you believe Thanksgiving is so close?  I can't! Got your turkey?  Ready to thaw it?  Know where your decorations are?  Oh boy!  Time sure is flying!  I better spin awhile and think about all the things I need to do.... 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

567 m.p.h. Socks

How fast can you knit? I can knit 567 m.p.h.!  Well, not really!  As a shepherdess, I may be able to leave the farm, but I can't leave behind the sheep!  So of course, when packing to fly away, I had to pack some wool.  I decided to take that lovely Romney lavender yarn I bought from Yorkshire Rose Farm so that I could continue making my new socks.
 My 567 m.p.h. lavender socks...still not on the ground!

I decided they would be a great deviation from the sound of massive engines whirling away just outside the 36,000 feet above my comfort zone.  I must confess...I had a wee bit of trouble concentrating!  It didn't take long for me to figure out that even though we were flying at remarkable speed through what remained of the atmosphere, my stitches were not following suit.  In fact, they were draggy....barely making it from one needle to the next.  The stitches were clean and of good gauge however.  Whew.  In two hours time, I think I progressed only three inches.  lol
 When I looked up from my 'fast' socks, this is what I saw.
Those cool screens told us how fast we were going, and what our altitude was.  Gulp.

So where did the shepherdess go?  Here's a hint:
lol...far, far, far away from the great midwest!

My 'fast' socks are finished now, and on my feet tonight.  How nice!  I think it's the first time my toes have been warm in days!  Good thing they are done, as cold air is here and expected to stay.  I wonder if they will make me a 'faster' spinner?...a 567 m.p.h. spinner?  lol  We'll see!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Shepherdess Flies Around

Hello all!  Sorry about the gap in new posts, but we've been very busy, and not around!  We flew off on a fun adventure and have just returned home to happy sheep.  I'll update in a little bit!  We've been thinking of you all and again, sorry for the delay in posts!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Definitely Sockupied!

Can't wait for pink socks on those dreary winter days!

Oh, I'm definitely sock-upied these days!  I LOVE knitting socks, I love knitting in the round, I love making my own warmth and comfort for those dreary, long, dark, freezing winter days.  These socks are not only all of that, but they are something much more!  Stay tuned to learn more about why these socks are so special, and what that means to our farm.  There have been some changes here and boy, am I ever excited in what we will be able to bring you in the future!

In the meantime, we are having a very nice fall here.  While a frost or two has already come and the zinnias are gone, the grass is still growing bright green.  How nice that is for the sheep!  We've been supplementing them with some hay now, but they can continue to be out on pasture without much worry, which is precisely where they prefer to be.  The wind has blown cold the last week or so, but as you know, that doesn't faze a shetland sheep much!  They are perfectly content out in the open, grazing, chewing cud, and just watching the sun move across the sky.  The trees still hold many of their colorful leaves, yet leaves cover the ground in many places.  Some of the maple leaves get fed to the livestock, as they find them absolutely delicious.  Apples left on the trees are also scrumptious treats, especially for Wooly Bear.  He loves treats!

Oddly enough, as I'm typing this, thunder is rumbling off in the distance, and the skies are gray.  Seems we're in for a nice autumny rain.  Oh good...clean sheep!  Also, we have repairs to make in the barn, compliments of Wink.  Not sure what he is thinking these days, but it seems anything vertical has held great appeal for him lately...which makes so much more work for the shepherdess!  Lerwick is super content with his ewes, but Lil' Rainbow has decided she does not want to be in that group.  When we bought Lil' Rainbow, her previous shepherd had all kinds of trouble keeping her in the fence, but that has not been a problem here until now!  Every day, I was finding her outside her breeding group's fence, in the lane (also fenced...they are double fenced).  She'd be contentedly laying down and chewing her cud, or grazing, happily just over the fence from Lerwick.  Huh!  We'd put her back and a few hours later, there she'd be the lane!  She was very easy to get back into her group, until finally, we decided she'd had enough time with the ram and let her return to the ewe group.  Every day is an adventure! lol

Shepherding truly is like a box of never know what you're gonna get!

Friday, October 25, 2013

2 x 4's

Whack! Crash! *&%^*#@ SSpppplllliiittttcrackwhack!


Wink just remodeled my barn again.  He might be wandering around the barn aisle with a 2 x 4 stuck to his head.....

Monday, October 21, 2013

Got Socks?

Lavender Romney Fun!

Every once in awhile, I buy yarn from someone.  Rarely from a yarn shop, I seek yarn from other small farm producers who are raising sheep for a living.  Fun!  What pleasant surprises to be discovered!  

If a spinner only works with their own yarn, growth is limited.  I really enjoy so many different breeds of sheep's wool that as much as I love Shetlands (and I'll always have them as long as I can be a shepherd), I do love working with other fibers.  The picture above is from Romney sheep that live maybe two hours south of our farm.  The sheep live in a moderate sized flock, graze all summer, and are utilized for meat and yarn.  Romney is coarser than any of the sheep I raise, but the yarn is well known for high quality sock fiber.  It's cushy, strong, and warm.  I bought two skeins of worsted weight yarn in this lovely lavender color specifically to make warm, cushy boot socks for winter.  So far?  I love it!

Now is a super good time to get those socks knitted!  The cold weather is just beginning here in the north, with a stiff, cold wind blowing today.  Time to put on some mittens and pull up the hood!  The sheep were delighted to get out and graze this morning.  They love this 'shetlandy' kind of weather and are unfazed.

The sock above:  knitted on size 5 double points.  I cast on 40 stitches, dividing them 10, 20, 10.  I always knit the first row, then switch (in this case) to k3, p1 ribbing.  Sometimes I like a good long cuff, so this ribbing goes for just over two inches.  Then I switched to simply knitting every round until the sock measured six and a half inches long all together.  Now, I'm working on the heel flap.  Fun!  I'll keep you posted.  Hope you are enjoying knitting socks, or searching for someone in your community who can get you started on this most useful, creative, and fun skill!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Frost is coming soon

Enjoy it before they are gone!

All summer long, I spin to a view of flowers near my work space, but those flowers are cut out of the garden with care to ensure more blooms to come.  In the fall, things change!  With frost looming around the corner, and the flower bed loaded with blooms, it's time to go wild and bring them all in!  There are lovely vases all over the house now, filled with the most beautiful array of purples, pinks, and yellows.  What a great view out of the corner of my eye as I work!

Hope you enjoy a little perk from these lovely flowers, too!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A pleasant autumn scene

We are truly lucky to have the pleasures of wool!  If you look back in history, virtually no civilization has survived without sheep and goats, and the products these incredibly useful animals give us.  I love sheep because you can keep and enjoy them for years and years, yet still use the wool for warm clothing with incredibly high performance in the cold months, and up here in the north, that is very important!

This picture above is a scene from our booth a couple of years ago.  I love the autumn leaves and it's one of my favorite pictures, even though there wasn't much yarn left that day.  I love the natural colors of our sheep.  Sometimes I put natural colors together, sometimes I add in dyed colors, sometimes I use just one natural color and one dyed color.  The flower sets are popular additions to felted items, coats, purses, backpacks, hats, headbands, sweaters, and even mittens!  Wool is such a wonderful thing to design with, it is easy for me to understand why so many people are loving wool and rediscovering it.  

Today, I'm plying the Romney singles I had spun awhile back.  I also have several bobbins of singles from Iris's fleece to ply.  Iris is getting old, I hate to admit.  Yet her fleece, while not as soft as it was years ago, is still beautiful, and I think some of it might go into sales. 

Things are very quiet around here now, as the rams are in with the girls and everyone is incredibly peaceful.  It's a nice treat after the baas of spring lambs learning how to stick with the flock during daily movement.  This time of year brings lots of fat tummies from green summer grasses, bright and sparkly eyes, and lots of whirly chin action during contented cud chewing...and after the rain we had this past weekend, fuzzy, clean fleeces you can hardly resist touching!

Hope you are all enjoying this lovely autumn day!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rained Out

Is rain a good thing, or a bad thing?  I guess it's all about perspective, I guess!  When I lived in the city, rain was a nusiance or bad thing.  It was messy.  My shoes got dirty.  My car got dirty.  It made grass grow so that somebody had the chore of cutting the grass again.

On a farm, the perspective is definitely not the same!  Here at the farm, rain is much wanted!  It cleans the fleece on the sheep after a dusty dry spell.  Soft rainwater cleanses the fleeces, making them soft.  The sheep shake off extra water, fluffing up those lovely locks, making a spinner notice each fleece's beauty.  Rain perks up the garden.  It kick starts the pastures for longer and more nutritious grazing.  It replenishes ground water.  It softens the soil.  It gives the shepherd a break from hard work outside.  There are so many benefits, one can't help but be thankful for a rainy day, especially after a long dry spell.
Part of our booth

Today, we had lots of rain.  It started gently falling yesterday.  The air is warm and a light fog is hanging above the ground.  The trees are beginning to turn their brilliant autumn colors, with the sumac turning fiery russet reds.  It's beautiful.  As I walk around the farm with Swifty happily running along, I sense oxygen in the air and I just want to breathe deeply.  The air feels so fresh.  I don't want to come inside, yet I look forward to my rainy day time in the house.

I was listening to a talk show host on national t.v. lately, joking about what NOT to tweet  It was funny in the context of the show and the topic they were on.  But right away, I began to think about the differences of how I thought of rain over the years of my life, depending on where I lived.  I have found that urban people are not that interested in talking about weather much these days.  When I go to gatherings with more urban people, I don't talk weather much, or try not to as I don't want to be boring.   However, when I attend events with a rural presence, weather is very much an important and dominant topic.  Weather is so important to our economy, food supply, and daily living.  On a farm, you notice the changes of the weather, and how the land, animals, and plants respond.  You notice little things that are actually big things...things that can mean making it or not on the farm.  Good weather gives you bounty, if you plan for it.  Bounty gives you strength to survive bad weather, if you plan for it.  

It may have been a rain out today, but I feel as refreshed as the grasses out there in the pastures...more upright, ready to grow.  I feel as though I've flung off the fatigue of weeks in a row of hard work outside in the heat and bugs.  The edge of weeks of working without rest have softened in the gray skies and temporary slower pace.  

We hope you had a nice day indoors today!  Hopefully in the weeks to come, the rain will come during the week.  Don't forget to check out our Etsy shop if you'd like to buy yarn before the next market!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Chimp

I deviate...

This is The Chimp.  He's one of our roosters.  His name is actually Blackie...which migrated to Blackie-Midnight....which then became Chimpy, or The Chimp.  Chimpy loves cracked corn or watermelon.  In fact, if you give him some, he makes chimpanzee noises!  Oohhoohhoohhaahhaahhaahh!  Hence, he is now belovedly known around here as...The Chimp.

Even handsome roosters who are talented at making chimpanzee noises have to get a bath sometimes...

I know I know....he's not a sheep! :)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Pretty Ewes and Birds

 I think Lil' Rainbow has stunning color.

As you can see, here on Wheely Wooly Farm, we are all about wool!  These old pictures show how fleecy our sheep are.  We love the older breeds, which give such nice fiber for a multitude of end points.  Today's modern sheep are so standardized, it's hard to use the wool for more than one or two things.  Sheep like the older breeds give you endless opportunities for all kinds of things fiber!  That is my style and we love these sheep!
Sweetie looks all white, but her fiber has a touch of honey tones to it sometimes.

We also love the dynamics of Shetland color.  A spinner will never get bored with all the lovely colors these old-style sheep give!  From their first fleeces on, the colors are changing, giving endless possibilities for combinations, pairings, and blends.  Just one more thing to love about Shetland sheep!

We are just home after a weekend away showing poultry.  We came home with Best of Variety and Best of Breed for our seven year old Sweetie Tweetie, who's a bearded Buff-Laced Polish.  This bird has a string of trophies behind her now, although there is no trophy for this weekend's winnings.  
Here she is, out with the other hens one day.

She has a nice sized crest, beautiful slate-blue legs, and lacing all the way through her tail feathers.  She is of good size and always keeps herself neat-as-a-pin.  We also got a blue ribbon for our little black cochin bantam rooster, Chimpy.  We call him Chimpy because he makes monkey noises when you feed him something special like watermelon or cracked corn.  And Blue Belle, our blue standard cochin pullet brought home a third place ribbon.  Her purpose will be to brood eggs for us in the future...hopefully! :) 

Showing poultry is great fun!  The weather was gorgeous, we met up with some special friends and made a few new ones, and had good food all weekend.  And each morning at the hotel, we woke up to crowing...just like home!  It was really nice.

And now, we are back to more spinning, more washing, more knitting!  The breed groups are peacefully together and enjoying the nice weather, too.  I think Lerwick is in heaven, quite frankly!  They are still grazing out there on the special pasture we saved just for them.  It won't be long now before grazing runs out, but we'll have 'compromise' spaces where they will be turned out all day unless it's heavy mud.  These spaces are areas they will graze down to practically nothing, making them slow to regenerate in spring.  That means, they will need a good long rest after the winter, so they have to be planned out ahead and utilized on a rotational basis as well.  

That's about it for now.  Hope you all have a great start to the week!  If you are running out of a knitting project, or are starting your christmas shopping, be sure to come find us at the market this coming weekend!  We are ready for your holiday and winter needs!  Wheely Wooly Farm yarns make GREAT gifts, and we often have recipients coming back for more.  And don't forget about the Wheely Wooly Farm's Finisher's Club discount!  It's a great way to get more yarn for your larger projects such as shawls or blankets.  Happy Monday everyone!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

No market this weekend


No market this weekend!  Oktoberfest is the big event of the day, so the normal market takes a break but we'll be back the week after for your knitting needs.  The weather is going to be gorgeous and everyone is making their plans! 

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Smart Goose...

So while I'm running around trimming hooves, putting up breeding group fencing, sorting sheep, cleaning pens, spinning, planning demos and presentations, washing fleeces, fluffing fleeces that are air drying, running to the mill, attending sheepy events, and knitting things...Pomander the Gander is up to his own busyness...standing under the pear tree, with a branch in his bill....shaking the pear tree as hard as he can to make ripe pears fall to the ground!

That's one smart, silly goose!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Redwood and Posie Lap Robe

Time is sure flying!  I think this is the busiest summer we've had yet.  Since it has been so busy, I've had to keep my knitting simple.  Here is the latest thing off my needles:
 A Shetland Lap Robe, folded in thirds
Redwood provided the brown fibers, Posie the pretty pink

This very simplistic project was super relaxing to work on.  The yarn comes from a Dailley-descended, purebred Shetland ram named Redwood (out of the Sheepy Hollow flock).  His fiber sold like hot cakes, but I put less of it out now as he is definitely getting old.  Despite his age, and a mane (!), his fiber is still really beatuiful!  These pictures don't show the beauty of the fiber and that's too bad!

Anyhoo, I spun this yarn into a good, strong three ply as lap robes tend to get lots of use here in the north.  Knitting every stitch of every row, it measures 27 inches by 26 inches, knit on size 15 circular needles for an open look.  His fiber has the most wonderful ease in it, so the lap robe can stretch.  As the yarn blooms in time, it will be even more appealing for warmth!

The border is crocheted on a large hook using Posie's yarn.  Posie is a Shetland/Friesian cross ewe who's fiber is soft, and comes in every year at about a five inch long staple.  It's a dream to spin!  After spinning a nice little two ply yarn, I dyed it with drink mix, trying to get a nice variegation in the take up of the dye.  It worked!  The yarn has a lovely mottled affect of color, which is really beautiful with the glistening lighter colors in Redwood's yarn.
Blurry, but pretty border

That is pretty much it for Redwood's yarn...I think it is all sold out now.  This pretty pink of Posie's has not been out in the booth yet, so watch for it in the coming week!  There are only a few skeins in this color.  Also, I have more embroidery yarn bags made up and they are beautiful!  The embroidery bags have sold well.  I would love to hear how the yarn is doing for your embroidery projects!  The new bags made up are like the last ones...three complimentary colors....usually with some dyed wool and some natural colored wool.  More scarf boxes are coming in new colors, too!  So be sure to stop by and see the new stuff!

Finally, we've been having some fantastic sheepy adventures lately, but I cannot say yet what those are!  I'm not sure everything will work out yet, but if/when they do, I'll share right away!  Also, I've spun up the Romney fiber I bought from Yorkshire Rose Farm and it was positively LOVELY!  It was like spinning clouds!  I bought an 8 ounce bag of washed fiber, then handcarded it before spinning.  It's not plied yet, but it will be soon, I'm sure.  I love spinning Romney, but haven't worked on any for quite some time.  It was a treat to spin it again.

Hope all is well with all of you and that you are looking up the season's knitting projects you want to work on!   Time is ticking...time to knit! :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Got your pumpkins ready?

One of a kind acorn and pumpkin knitting needles
handmade here at Wheely Wooly Farm!

It's hard to believe it, but pumpkin time has already arrived in the fields around our farm!  As we tour around the countryside, we are already seeing the rows of pumpkins neatly lined up around barns, farmhouses, and hay wagons.  How appealing!  

The hot, humid weather has finally passed with cooler, less humid air here to stay awhile.  As the humidity subsides, my energy grows!!!  I've got fleeces drying, bobbins filling up, knitting at the ready for every spare moment, and of course, my new sheepy coffee mug usually sitting nearby either with steaming coffee in it, or the cooled remnants of relaxing moments now past.  I'm still spinning Iris.  Iris just goes on, and on, and on.  Love it!  There are bouquets of zinnias all around the house.  Outside, the sheep are pleasantly grazing once again.  I had kept them up near the barn for shade a couple of days lately, as it just seemed too hot to be out on pasture.  Today, things were really quiet because their mouths were full of clover buds and green grass.

Our pastures are starting to lag now, even though we've had some rain.  I have one rotation left so I hope the grass will start growing faster soon!  We have managed to graze straight through the slump of summer, with only a few days up at the barn for shade when it was super hot.

I forgot to mention that I also picked up more sheep soap at the festival.  I can't show you that, though because it came home and was opened right away. lol  Sheep soap (made from sheep's milk) is like goat's milk in that it takes the sting away if you happen to get into nettle or have bug bites.  Sometimes when I rotate fence, I'll get into a little nettle.  When I come in to wash up, the milk-based soaps take any sting away almost right away.  Truly, a sheep farmer shouldn't be without the stuff!!  If you'd like to try it, or get some positively SCRUMPTIOUS sheep cheese, click on the link to the right here for the soap.  

Tonight, a friend stopped by with two spinning wheels recently acquired.  Both need to be restored.  Both had beautiful drive wheels, old bobbins, and flyers with old hooks and tiny orifaces!  It was really interesting to study them over.  One had wood on the treadle that didn't match the rest of the wheel.  You could see the original wood was gone, and the repair was worn from use. It must have been a well-loved wheel that was repaired and used some more.  I like to imagine who might have spun at such a wheel.  What did they spin?  Did they knit?  Were children sitting nearby, listening to the wheel spin?  Did the wheel ever travel by covered wagon?  So many people of older years will stop by when I spin for the public, and tell me how one of their best childhood memories takes them back to sitting on the floor near their mother's or grandmother's wheel, listening to it go 'round and 'round.  Just thoughts. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Blissful Time!

Another year of the Sheep and Wool Festival has come and gone and what a fun one it was!  It's a bit hectic for us, as we attend the festival on Friday, then hurry home for market Saturday morning, then after catching up at the farm Sat. night and a good night's sleep, we headed back down to the festival for the day Sunday.

Some of our treasures found at the festival
Purchased from Jan The Village Weaver, and husband, Bob
Thank you Jan and Bob! 

As always, what fun we had catching up with our sheepy friends!  And what fun visiting the country store and sheep barns!  I also LOVE looking at the hooked rug display, and was delighted with the amazing designs the artists come up with.  In my mind ALL those rugs look perfect!  The designs are so creative, with movement and flow in them that shows a real understanding of how color, texture, and pattern can create life and motion in a piece.  It amazes me every year.  I love studying them and learning from the artistry.

Above, you'll find some of the treasures we brought home!  On the left is a knitting bowl....I've been waiting a LONG time for such a find!!!  This bowl is awesome!  It is heavy, so that the ball can roll around inside without pulling the bowl off the table when you pull on the yarn.  There are three holes on the side for different gauges of yarn.  On one side is the image of a saxony wheel, on the other, (not pictured here) is a pretty image of a black-faced sheep's head with the blue sky behind it.  I couldn't wait to get started knitting with it, so I got out some three ply yarn from Ol' Redwood I've been saving up, plopped it in the bowl, and began a very comfortable knitting experience that I've been dreaming about for ages!  How nice to not have the ball in a little plastic bowl, flipping off the table, or in my lap, rolling off onto the floor.  How nice to have it inaccessible to Sophie the kitty, who has a tendency to bite the yarn and not let go unless I pet her!  The yarn slips so nicely through the carefully made nicely in fact, without fear of pulling the whole thing off the table, that I was having a little too much fun pulling! (Read:  Ziiiinnnnnggggg!!  'Look at all the yarn I have!")

On the right is an awesome coffee mug made by the same artist, Bob.  I fell in love with it the first I laid eyes on it because the sheep has little hearts floating above it.  If you look at our logo on the right side of our blog here, you will see I designed floating hearts above the wheel, indicating how much I love working with sheep and wool!  When I saw this mug, I knew it was the mug for me! :)  It was purchased for me as an early christmas gift....lucky me! :)  On the backside, there is another image with floating hearts.  Love it!  Thanks Bob for your work, and I hope you'll sell lots more!

To say we had fun at the festival was an understatement!  I bought new handblades AND a leather case for the blades, which was VERY exciting for me!  This spring, when shearing the flock, it dawned on me that if something happened to my blades, or I accidently lost them,  I'd be in trouble!  Now, I have a back-up pair, with a super nice blade case.  Lucky me! :)  I love sheep.  Now I don't have to worry.

It's so fun to go to the festival every year.  If you get OUT of the Shetland stuff, and into the realm of all the other breeds, you will find the nicest and friendliest people!  Speaking of Shetland people, I noticed that once again, NASSA was not mentioned by anyone or any displays again this year, for the second year in a row.  NASSA is no longer being promoted at our festival, that I saw, despite supporting the festival a great deal for years.  I did get the chance to meander around the Shetland sheep barn on Friday night, which was also fun!  I think it's great that the nasty group of people who tried to steal the registry have finally been motivated to start their own thing.  I genuinely hope they will be happy with their own work, and sense of direction they are pursuing, even if so many find them intolerable people.  I think this was the best outcome for everyone and for the sheep.  Now they can work on their own focus, and take their sheep to new places as appendix breeding will do.  (I did notice that they did not disclose on their advertising that the Appendix A is a modern document.) And while they are busy doing that, the rest of us have the peace of keeping the sheep genuine, just as they were when the Shetland people needed to survive on them all those years ago.

So here we are, back at the farm with lots of fiber treasures, new ideas, new friends, and the refreshing feeling that comes from time spent doing something you love, with like-minded folks.  I have a greater focus of where I'd like to take my fiber skills in the future, as well as a deeper sense of accomplishment after looking back at where we started, and where we are today.  It was a good weekend of reflection, learning, and connecting.  Isn't that just what a good festival should give one?  I think so!  And....the ice cream cones were delicious!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Spinning Iris means joy!

Only once a year does the joy of spinning Iris come around, and now is it for this year.  Iris is getting old but she's in great shape, and gave us a lovely, soft fleece this year!  It's her softest in two years in fact.  I'm working on it now, and can hardly stop.  I could sit at the wheel and spin on and on and on...

But that wouldn't get all the other things done I need to do!  I'll have more scarves in stock by next weekend, and I'm working hard at getting some new colors ready for you!  We have a lot of blacks and browns in our inventory right now, with few lighter colors, so I'm working on lights.  Iris's fleece will be for sale in yarn in about two weeks, so watch for that if you've purchased her yarn in the past and would like more.  Her yarn does sell fast.  If you want it, don't wait.

Late summer is also the time of separating the little ram lambs from the mothers, which is done.  Lark is the biggest of them, and is gorgeous!  He has the brightest eyes and a super nice fleece.  They all are cute!  But then again, I may be just a bit slanted as I know their mothers and they are my flock. :)  Then again, little Shetlands are very cute...

Our breeding group for next year are getting readied and will soon be in with their ram.  We're probably going to use Lerwick on them this year.  He is the handsome fellow we've kept around for his fleece, temperament, prolifacy and good looks.  He's also tall, and will work great for these girls as many of them are not Shetlands, or technically, not even my sheep!  Lerwick will add good growthy-ness to the lamb crop for next year and will be the ideal choice for those non-Shetland ewes.  I wish Polar Bear could get the job this year, but he can't...he's too much a baby yet.  He was the last lamb born on our farm this year, which was May.  That was an excellent strategy in the challenging times of last year's drought, and this year's goofy weather causing problems in hayfields and such this year.  Instead of raising him on hay, he got the rocket fuel of spring grass with his mother's milk, and kapow!  He's growing FAST, but not enough to work for our crosses (that are not technically mine), although he'd work great on the Shetland ewes if I wanted to crossbreed them, which I don't.

So things have been very busy here on the farm, as you can see!  I'll be doing another round of hoof trimming soon, especially before the breeding group goes together.  I've saved them some beautiful pasture just for them, so after getting their feet trimmed, they'll be out there in bliss.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend, and are ready for getting back to the routine that is fall!  Don't forget to include knitting!  I'll be trying to finish two pairs of mittens (one of each to display in the booth), and I want to make a cowl from a pattern that was generously passed on to me at the last market.  It looks like a fun project to make, and I can't wait!  I'll let you know if I get it done!  And this week, I'm going to try to get my camera out with me!  We are overdue for more sheepy shots! :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What could we possibly.... up to now? lol
Can I spin that?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Grab your market basket!

I can hardly believe that market day has whirled around again!  This summer is really flying by and there has been much to do.  But before I go on, I thought you'd enjoy a picture of a sunflower from our garden.  This little cutie is sure nice to have in vases around the house!
Cherry Rose sweet!

I'm sorry I did not get a picture of Chickaline the broody hen with her little brood yet!  She has three little black/white/and yellow chicks (Barred Rocks), and one buff Ameraucana chick.  I will surely try to get that picture soon.  In the meantime, I've been working on mittens that I wanted to complete before fair, but didn't get them done.  They are made from fiber raised here on our farm, in fact the yarn comes from Wheely Wooly Whirlwind...we call him Whirly for short.  He's the little fellow who was born during the bypassing tornado near our farm one year.  His fiber has a wonderful depth to it, which looks harmonious with dyed colors, making them pop.   
Whirly Mittens with Friesian Dyed Crocheted Flower

As you can see, the thumb is on a piece of scrap yarn, and hasn't been knitted yet.  This is a very simple mitten pattern that can be whipped up in very little time.  Shetland mittens are outstanding for winter here in Wisconsin.  I use them for barn mittens, going away mittens, spring mittens, deep cold mittens and driving mittens.  Each one is treasured!!  Deep cold mittens are double layers.  Barn mittens get felted as they freeze to stall latches and water bucket handles when the fibers get wet from sloshing around.  Going away mittens are clean and perfect looking, and usually smell pretty like hand lotion.  Driving mittens are lighter weight, to compensate for the heater in the vehicle.  Driving mittens are also made with longer cuffs, for days when snow needs to be brushed off the windshield, to prevent that nasty cold wrist problem.  Over the years, I have found that britch wool is best for all these mittens.  It is stronger, and can take the snow better.  I do not find them itchy in any way, in fact, I treasure them!  This mitten will be knitted down to the finger tips yet, probably a few more inches.  Then, I'll put the thumb in, weave in the tails, sew on the flower, and they will be done!  

So find your market baskets, grab your grocery money, and head out to market in the morning!  It's going to be a beautiful day and we have lots of yarns to choose from.  Pick up your fresh dill, sunflower/cosmo bouquets, goat cheese curds, and sweet corn, goat soap, fresh carrots, and great BBQ sauce, fresh European breads and scones, and of course, great yarn from your Local Friendly Sheep!  See you then! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Goldfinches, and Trophies!

My, how time flies!  The days flit past like those beautiful little goldfinches tweeting up and down, up and down, swooping into the sunflower forest and landing so deftly on a giant seed head.  I wish I could land on my feet so elegantly when time flies like that!

EAA-er's have now long since flown home and our pastures have returned to the calls of sandhill cranes rather than the rumble of warbirds.  The sheep can now graze without being pretend targets for old bombs, like people in a city.  As peace has returned once again, a hush has fallen over the farm as we headed out on the road for summer fun!  In between the work of spinning, knitting, and tending our garden and farm chores, we did manage to squeek in some good showing, and came home with lots of ribbons and three trophies!  Earning those trophies is so emotional as sometimes an animal can take a hit healthwise in unexpected ways, sending you into tears and late nights in helping it's heath restore itself.  Sometimes you wonder if only prayers can bring an animal back, but late nights, long days, and support of friends can do wonders for an animal as well!  This time, we are very fortunate to say that it all paid off and success was very sweet!  This animal will still be shown in the future, as she was Champion of Champions last year, and this year, an almost bigger victory, a blue in her class!  She came home content, peaceful, and ready to get back to her daily work here on the farm.  Totally sweet!  I love the farm!  What a ride....up and down, up and down, just like the goldfinches!

In the meantime, while out showing, our little broody hen hatched out four little chicks!  You cannot pick the timing of a broody hen....and well, that's the timing she picked!  We are delighted with her little chicks and she is an outstanding mom.  The chicks love riding on her back.  I hope to get some pictures of that for you!  I know it's not about sheep, but I'll put it up anyways, if I can get a good picture.

After returning home from showing, our Posie, Polar Bear's mom and Claire's lamb, came in off pasture one night extremely dizzy and weak!!!  I was walking through the barn just after they were run in and I noticed her on her side, spinning around in an attempt to get back on her feet.  It was awful!  I quickly jumped the fence, ran in to stop the spinning and helped her get up.  Seeing how dizzy and weak she was, I helped her to her favorite sleeping corner while DH ran to get extra fence panels to fence her in.  After much studying and a long call to the vet (who didn't know what to think), we determined she was not suffering from poisoning.  Instead, she was grossly thin!  For some reason, she had stopped eating!  I gave her some things to jump start her metabolism, which thankfully worked in less than fifteen minutes.  What a relief!  She went from low blood glucose pose to back on her feet, still weak, dizzy, and dehydrated, but ON HER FEET!  I was so happy!!!  I drenched water and electrolytes into her for the next few hours and kept her on close observation as her eyes brightened and her stance stabilized.  DH ran out to get a pizza, which we ate from our lawn chairs just outside her pen while we watched her improve.  We weren't confident we were out of the danger zone with her yet.  It was pretty late when we finally headed into the house, but we still were dazzled by the night sky, stopping to watch the meteor showers and glow of the milky way.  It was an amazing, peaceful, bright night here on the farm, and a happy one, too, because Posie was improving.  All the next day, she still wouldn't drink on her own, so I drenched her every little while to get her rehydrated.  She is worth every second I spend on her in time!  It worked!  By that evening, she was drinking from her pail of fresh clean water.  What a relief!  She is still not out of danger yet, but she is eating the hay we're giving her and other supplements to try to get her back up to weight.  I think she is so intensely bonded to her little Polar Bear that she literally worried herself sick!  So the first day she was kept in, we kept him with her, then migrated him to the pen just outside her's but side by side, then the next day, we let him run out in the morning with the rest of the flock.  She fretted for a couple of hours, then began to accept that he was safe out there with the others.  She could finally rest.  We put little Daisy in with her as they get along good, and she seemed to appreciate the company.  Polar Bear, by the way, is growing faster than any weed you can think of!  He is a CUTIE!

Well, that is a quick summation of the days since our last post.  We hope to see all of you tomorrow at the market!  It's been perfect weather, and there will be a bounty of goodies for your kitchen, pantry, and home, so be sure to bring your grocery money and a strong, big bag!  See you then!

Oh yeah, don't forget to get out your biggest vase tonight!  I'm sure the sunflower bouquets will be knock-out gorgeous tomorrow!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Welcome EAA-ers!

Welcome to all our EAA visitors!  We hope you enjoy your visit to our neck of the woods.  Looks like the weather will be good for flying over sheep grazing in GREEN pastures!  ('s a beautiful thing!!)

For those of you who haven't heard of EAA, it's the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual gathering at our tiny airport.  It's an incredibly exciting look at aviation over the decades, where you can find all kinds of planes from old WWII bombers (with...ahem...nearly naked ladies painted on the sides) to modern wonders that take your breath away in power, noise, and intrigue!  Ever see a fighter jet whiz past you, deafening your screamed wows??  Ever watch the Harrier hover in place like the Jetson's family space mobile....only MUCH, MUCH louder, with shocking power?  Ever see a stealth silently glide over you like a secret bat...nearly causing all the cars and trucks on the road to crash as everyone tries to get a better look?  Ever watch the Concorde bank out over the water, sun on it's back, roaring past you at remarkable speed?  It's all beautiful and exciting!

From our pastures, we will spend the week watching dare devils paint the sky with smoke, acrobats flip their planes over and over and over, and war planes fly in formation with a slow, deafening rumble.  Off in the distance, as I tend my farm chores, I'll hear the buzz of something much higher in the air than a bee, snorkeling air, sputtering, and going silent as it falls at alarming speeds back to earth, only to buzz once again as the pilot pulls the plane back up and quickly buzzes into the blue, fading out of sight.  The only thing that brings my attention back to what I'm supposed to be doing is:

a) falling into a hole or dip into the ground as I'm walking, or
b) a cute lamb baaing...which always brings my attention back in focus.

Yep.  It's crooked neck week here on the farm!  Welcome EAA-ers!  We always enjoy your racket! :)  I can't imagine anyone getting bored out there on the grounds, but if you do, be sure to look us up and get some fine Shetland yarn for some of the best knitting you'll ever experience!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sunny Days of Summer

What a beautiful summer we are having!  The grass is still green and lush, the temps have been nice, and
all has been moving right along!  The lambs are growing faster than one person put it lately...the results of 'rocket fuel' of good milk and high protein grass.  Our black lambs have a bright sparkle to their eyes, which I can't get enough of in the evenings when I call them in to the gate.  They are so cute!  I'll have to try getting more pics for you to see since I'll be rotating fence tomorrow again.

The sunflowers are blooming brightly on the farm.  This one was a volunteer compliments of the winter birds who visited our feeder during snowstorms.  We have sunflowers all over the farm.  Love them!

We're looking ahead to Saturday's market and getting ready.  It looks like the weather will be beautiful again, so I think I'll bring my wheel.  If you haven't had a chance to stop by and see me spin, another chance is coming!  We have lots of colorful yarns to choose from in many shades of natural colors, as well as the bright dyed wools that are so much fun to pair with the natural colors.  Our yarns and knitted garments continue to be popular with visitors from out of state.  If you saw something you like more of or want to add to a project, don't forget that you can order from our Etsy store anytime day or night and you can order with a credit card.  If you saw something you'd like, but don't see it in our Etsy shop, just email and we can post that for you to purchase.  Our Etsy shop link is conveniently on the right side of our blog here.  Anything ordered from our Etsy shop will be mailed right to your doorstep!  How lucky we are to live in this day and age!

This year, we have only five ram lambs.  Polar Bear (a.k.a. Snowball) is a real keeper.  We can't WAIT to use him on our Friesian cross girls!  Peat is a very nice breeding ram ready to go to a new home.  Lark is HUGE, with a fantastic growth rate, and Rapport is the brightest-faced little fellow I've seen in a long time!  He cannot be registered due to political tanglings two breeders back.  I found his mother on a farm where all the Shetlands were being sold, and she has been an asset to our farm.  When bred to our Grand Champ ram, or his offspring, she's given us super nice lambs!  Rapport is a twin.  We named his sister Rapunzel, because she is kinda trapped in the tower by the political situation much like the 'real' Rapunzel was trapped by a witch.  Rapunzel the lamb is also a beauty and is a keeper!  And last is handsome, friendly Moorwyn, whom I'm trying to decide if I'll sell.

That's about all for now.  Let us know if we can be of any help in the Etsy shop, or at the market.  In the meantime, hope you are enjoying whatever knitting projects you are working on!  I'm working on a pair of Whirly (short for Whirlwind) mittens (a young ram in our flock who sired several of this year's twin lambs), with Blue Ice trim and flowers.  If I get time, I'll post a picture of them soon!  Hope you are enjoying our sunny days of summer!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What are they looking at?

 What's that???
Yikes!  Should we run for cover??

Pretty soon, the ducks and hens will be pretty stressed out around here!  EAA is coming which means things will be changing around here for a few days.  We'll go from hens lolloping across the lawn chasing frogs or grasshoppers to hens under cover of trees and barns...narry a hen in sight.  What drives the change?  Planes!

Poultry don't like planes.  I know, I know...this is a sheep blog....but this week marks hen-diving week as planes begin buzzing...roaring...sputtering...whirling...diving...and smoking across our skies.  Not one will go unnoticed by the flock!  Every plane brings fear in the hearts of ducks and hens.  Is it a hawk?  An eagle?  Quick everyone!! Run for cover!!!

The first few planes that go by cause everyone to dive for cover, but then they come out pretty quick again, and continue their journey across the lawn searching for something delicious to eat.  However, by the end of the week, you can step outside and see no one.  Tired of continous fear, they can be found huddling together under pine trees, or dustbathing in the barn under the cover of a roof.  It's not until the skies return to quiet stillness that they finally begin venturing out once again.

We don't live near the airport, but the planes are numerous and flying around all day.  The sheep are not fazed.  They continue their peaceful grazing and dozing, completely oblivious to the fact that a bomber...or six... might be flying directly overhead...bombers that once may have bombed old stone buildings in urban areas of Europe...a bomber whose sound may have struck terror in the hearts of souls on the ground, hearing them approach.  It's a fascinating week where the emphasis comes off the sheep and onto the poultry.  Poor hens!  Poor ducks!  But they'll survive!

Back to sheep farming...we had a gorgeous morning for market on Saturday!  The heat and humidity of last week passed on while cooler, drier air settled in without any wicked storms.  How nice!  We surely could use the rain, though.  The ground is beginning to get small contraction cracks already, so a good steady rain would be timely right now.  If you wanted to pick up a sunrise ball of yarn, I have some in stock now.  They are very popular so if you want one, don't wait too long to pick it up!  Or you can email us and we can send it to you.

Flowers on the farm

Also, I'm debating selling Wheely Wooly Moorwyn as a breeding ram.  He can be registered, is very docile and sweet, and all black, possibly fading to soft grey.  In fact, he comes from a now long line of proven sweeties in temperament and super nice spinability.  His mother, Mona, has given us outstanding ram lambs, and I've culled none of them.  We still have Lerwick, Whirly, and Fair Isle.  Lerwick has given us outstanding lambs, Whirly's first lamb crop came this year, and Fair Isle I held off breeding as he had one horn that was questionable, that has since gone straight up and away, which made me gleeful!  I was there the moment he was born and he was outstandingly vigorous and was baaing during his birth, then up within a couple of minutes!  I've never seen anything like that vigor before or since.  His fleece is super soft and longish, wavy, so he too is a real keeper.  If you are looking for a docile ram with excellent spinning fleece, Moorwyn might be just what you're looking for. 

That's all for now!  Have a good day everyone!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's July ? Already??

Summer is flying by here on the farm faster than a spinning whirlygig!!  I can hardly believe the date when I look at my calendar.  We are having a fantastic grass year this year, and as you can see, the garden behind this huge, colorful whirlygig is growing bountiously.  This week, we've had our first truly hot and humid weather so even though we have excellent pasture waiting for the next rotation, we've brought the sheep up to the barn for the week.  This gives them the opportunity to graze during cooler morning and evening hours, but still have access to shade provided by some trees and the buildings during the heat of the afternoon.  It's also easier to keep their water tanks well scrubbed and filled with cool, clean water.  In hot weather like this, the tanks need checking every few hours.  We've also put extra tanks out for them.

 I'll never grow tired of colorful whirlygigs!
More Wheely Wooly Farm twins.
These two are Moorwyn and Mousa, Mona's lambs.
Just like her, they are VERY friendly!
Moorwyn loves chin scratches, and will quietly approach you and politely wait for you to notice him.

This summer, we've been grazing the flock in long, narrow strips and rotating them every few days, depending on how they graze a strip down.  Because of the good grass-growing weather we've had, our pastures are regenerating quickly, although we're heading now into a slower growth period as we approach August.  We've been very fortunate to attend some sheepy events to learn more and network with fellow sheep producers.  I love attending these events! 

Also, we are now sold out of meat and won't have more until sometime in August.

Plus, we are busy getting ready for Saturday's market!  I have some spinning to finish, and I've done some knitting for displays.  Knitting in this hot weather is so nice!  During the heat of the day, I come in, sit where it's cool, and take some time to enjoy the wonders of lovely Shetland yarn!   It's a great way to pass the time until the less humid weather returns once again and I am back to outside work.  What do I hear a lot of knitters making this summer?  Capelets and mittens!  If you're wanting to work on something like these, be sure to check out our green farm yarns!  Our yarns are well suited for both of these types of projects.  Remember, we're local, we're sustainable, and we're GREEN!  Supporting our small family farm means making wiser choices in resource consumption and helps reduce negative environmental impacts.  Green wool is smart wool!!  Check us out on Etsy, where you can shop any time day or night, and order with the convenience of your credit card and we'll send the yarns right to your door!

Our natural Shetland yarn paired with dyed yarn.
Order yours today!

Monday, July 8, 2013

For Sale: Shetland Ram Lamb

For Sale:
Wheely Wooly Peat
Shetland ram lamb born May 9, 2013

Wheely Wooly Peat is a fine young ram lamb who will be registered upon sale.  His color is moorit (Norse, meaning 'brown'), with white on the right side of his head/neck.  He may possibly carry blaeget markings, which means the tips of his fleece, as he ages, may be "a lighter shade of the outer part of the wool fiber, especially in moorit and dark brown sheep" (NASSA Handbook, page 7, Colors and Markings).  If he has this, his fiber will make gorgeous yarn, with a heathering of golden highlights when spun.  His sire's fleece can be seen here on the right side of our blog.  Peat is solid colored and very soft, so his fleece is perfect for larger projects such as shawls, sweaters, or sofa lap blankets, although it would be lovely paired with other natural Shetland colors or even dyed yarns!

Peat's twin is standing behind him (Wheely Wooly Chicory).  She looks just like him but is not for sale.  Both the sire and dam are on farm and available to see.  Peat's sire has a gorgeous Shetland head with beautiful, curling horns and a fleece that sells fast every year.  Sire and dam both have ideal temperaments for small flocks, something few farms consider when developing breeding stock.

Wheely Wooly Peat would make a fine breeding ram for any spinner's flock.  If you are interested, email us to learn more!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

My Travelin' Wheel

We're back!  It was a wonderful 4th of July holiday....still is for some of you...and we've been very busy!  Today was market day, and despite all the busyness of the week, I decided spontaneously to bring my wheel to market, and what fun that was!

Spinnin' on the street
DH took this shot early, before the market was open.

I set up my little rooster rug to protect the feet of my wheel, and immediately noticed the pitch in the concrete was just right for comfortable spinning, although my wheel needed some minor adjusting to get it just right.  It did wobble a wee bit, but my flyer was flying most of the morning.  If the amount of oil I went through was any indication, I was a near race car on treadles this morning! 

How fun it was to demo for passersby!  Children love to stop and watch, while many ask questions as long as their parents will allow.  People of all ages stop to watch.  Some have never seen a working wheel before.  Others asked if I got it from an antique store.  I love hearing about people's memories of wheels in their past, and of family members they recall.  The interaction of the crowd always makes for a nice time, and I enjoy answering the questions.  Thanks, too, for all the compliments!

Because we had the wheel along, we had a good day in sales.  People seem drawn to local things, and to things of quality.  In fact, one passerby commented 'if only you could spin gold, right?'.  Spinning is like making gold, in that the warmth sheep's wool provides in the winter is irreplacable.  Why be cold when you can be warm?  And being warm means being healthier.  Sheep's wool mittens provide just that quality that can't be found practically anywhere else.  Sheep are great!...and VERY green!  Even on a hot summer day, I am working ahead to make next winter easier. 

Next week, we won't be at the market, so if you saw something you liked, you might find it in our Etsy shop, or just email us and we can get it in the shop.  Remember, you can order off etsy anytime, use your credit card and we'll send your yarn right to your home!  Couldn't be easier!  Early next week, I'm going to get some rams up for sale.  Wheely Wooly Peat is one of them so you won't want to miss out if you are looking for a good Shetland breeding ram!  Somebody's gonna sure be lucky to get him!  Stay up next!

Happy rest of the 4th of July weekend, everyone!