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, January 1, 2013

2012 - An Amazing Year!

Tinsel on trophies?!?

I had to laugh when I found the trophies all decorated for the holidays in their own tinsel!  These trophies are not instruments of bloated pride, but rather symbols of the happy realization that rarely does hard work, problem solving, and dedication not lead to something beautiful and special, and many precious memories!  If you dedicate yourself, try your best, do your work, and get really, really good at catching frisky baby animals, all while containing your endless giggles at all the silliness, precious memories form, new friendships are made and good, honest work gets done.  Who could forget that moment during grocery store social hour when the baby call that one little hour in which we'd left the farm?  

2012 has been an amazing year for Wheely Wooly Farm!  It was a year of hard work and many cold hours out in the barn.  It was also a year of much sweat!  I don't think I've ever walked so many miles rotating fence as I did this year, or wiped my brow so much!  It was a year of growth, diversity, and dedication.  We put in many miles on the road, met many new friends, and brought home many special family memories!  It was also a year of many trophies and ribbons!  2012 was indeed a special year to remember!

2012 was also a year of fear.  As the drought dragged on, I began to learn some lessons that cultures and generations of the past knew oh so well, but that modern people feel insulated and separated from.  I've learned that the hardships generations past faced are just as worrisome and real to us today as they were in the past.  Truth is, we are not insulated from anything.  In fact, the way our agriculture is set up, we are more vulnerable than any other generation before.  I don't like that realization.  It's frightening.

This year, our lamb crop grew to be healthy and join the flock, with again, a zero mortality rate!!  I know it's statistically impossible for that to happen every year.  Hands down, easily, we have the rock bottom lowest lamb mortality rate in our county, if not in the whole surrounding region.  As I have in the past, I sheared the entire flock myself with handblades, bringing in some of the nicest fleeces our farm has ever raised.   Yarns from lambs raised on our farm sold quickly, with customers recognizing and requesting yarns from their favorite sheep...sheep they bought yarn from in prior years and created something memorable to wear with it.  It is such an honor for us to provide you and your family with warm, high quality clothing.  We take pride in helping you look good AND be warm at the same time!  Our yarns and my knitting also won many awards this year, as did our acorn needles for which we are also very grateful!  It's always scary to submit your work to the critique of others and get feedback.  I'm sure glad we did! 

 We made it through those tough 100 plus degree days with careful vigilance of the flock, hosing down anyone when needed.  We didn't lose one sheep.  We also...somehow!...managed to find enough winter feed for the flock.  That was indeed the biggest challenge we faced this year!  Waiting at the edge of the hayfield with the truck, ready to hitch on the hay rack was just not good enough this year in supplying all we needed.  We are very, very grateful to the croppers who worked with us this year in selling us all they could, so that Wheely Wooly Farm wouldn't face winter without feed!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

It was also tough some days to make it to market, when the temperatures soared!  By noon, the heat was nearly intolerable, yet people continued to buy wool yarn!  Why?  Because Shetland wool yarns are so nice!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you so much to all of you, our customers, who've kept the sales up through such an amazing heat wave!  We hope you enjoyed working on your projects in the cool of your homes, or with your toes in the lake, while sitting in the shade!  I can certainly say with confidence that shopping for yarns from your friendly local sheep, while sipping on an icy fruity drink is truly a pleasant experience...especially when you see all those bright sunflower bouquets strolling by!

Another amazing thing about 2012 is the progress made in the Shetland breed organization, and our registry. Much dirt had to be shoveled away to get to the bottom of all the bad changes, and as more dirt was removed, more icky problems were discovered!  I'm positively shocked at all the things that were going on in those bad years!!!  I know I'm not alone in feeling grateful for the leadership of our current board in restoring the organization to the integrity it once had.  I can see that due to the depth of the dirt pile, that restoration process will take longer than we all thought, as I don't think any of us thought it was as bad as it actually was.  Hopefully, there won't be any more bad surprises in the year to come, and progress will move along nicely.  With our 2012 elections complete, the future of the genuine Shetland sheep...that wooly, fleecy, lovable, personable little sheep, has been once again restored and secured.  The work of Col. Dailley, Mr. Hunter (whom I've named 'Hunter's Hope' after) and all those who, in the early years, worked so hard to establish this amazing producer of clothing's future on a new continent, will not be erased or buried in misty confusion, but instead, will be available to all new shepherd's or shepherd wannabe's who happen upon this humble little breed.  There is so much to be thankful in that!

And now, with our farm deep in the glittery snows of winter and the sheep snuggled in the barn, we look to the year ahead.  We planned our lambs to be late this year, and we are hoping the drought becomes a thing of the past.  With market dates coming up at least the next three Saturdays, we'll be there to get you off to a great knitting new year!  We've already received contacts from customers seeking yarns after the holidays, so watch for our booth Jan. 5th, 12th, and 19th!    Also, watch for our ads in local publications and the Farm Fresh Atlas for more info!  

We here at Wheely Wooly Farm hope you had a peaceful and restful holiday season, as we did here!  And now it's back to the wheel for me!  Thank you everyone for your support of our little family fiber farm, and for supporting your local friendly sheep (LFS)!  You've created an American job!  Happy New Year everyone!

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