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, April 15, 2013

Hi There!

 I'm here!!  My shepherdess named me "Maggie Mae"!
I LOVE my name!
Notice my mum's nose to the right?  She is very good to me!

(Shepherdess here...) Wheely Wooly Farm has been a busy place these last few days!  The weather has been challenging, but all the sheep have been cozied up in the barn.  All weekend, we've been donning layers of the warmest clothing we have, and still wearing our down winter coats and hoods just to stay warm while spending hours out in the barn.  I had decided to try finishing my Wooly Bear sweater while waiting for lambing to begin.  So I finished the second sleeve, then sewed the shoulders together, knitted up the front/around the neck/and back down for the button band, placing my sheepy buttons in their places and lining up, then knitting the button holes.  Before sewing the sleeves on, I crocheted over the edge on the cuffs, for a fun added detail. (DH calls it "Amy-izing")  Then, I sewed the first sleeve on, followed by sewing the sleeve shut, then continued sewing down the seam to the waistline, finishing that side of the sweater.  Now I could try it on and hope it all fits!  Yippee!  It does!  I am so excited about this sweater!
 My Wooly Bear sweater almost, but not quite, done.

That was all Friday night.  We had supper at the farm, knowing our ewes could begin lambing at any time.  The wind was howling out there, and pouring rain was lashing against the windows.  I snuggled in and waited until my last barn check was complete before heading to bed.  And guess what?  That last barn check proved very surprising!  Upon coming through the gate through the passageway, there, in the ewe pen, was a  little black lamb!!  Mom, Wheely Wooly Maewyn, was not in her lambing window yet!!  What a shock!  The lamb was strong and vigorous, with no problems getting up or nursing.  We moved them to a prepared jug, dipped the navel cord, and kept an eye on them.  By the 3 am check, little lamb was getting chilled, so risking rejection, I brought her in the house for an hour to a prepared warming box in the kitchen.  But Maewyn, like her mother, is a VERY good mother!  And a first-timer, too!  Bringing the little ewe lamb back to Maewyn did not phase her, and she immediately took back over, being careful not to step on the lamb, nudging her to nurse, and continuing to clean her off.  By morning, the little lamb was boinging all around her jug!  For a first time Mom, we think Maewyn was just fabulous!

Maggie Mae is the name given to this little lamb, as she is out of Wheely Wooly Maewyn and Wheely Wooly Moonlight.  Moonlight is such a cute fellow, with long, wavy fleece and a super nice temperament.  Moonlight is out of Twilight, that little keeper fellow we had a couple of years ago.  So Friday night, I was up a lot, making sure the cold winds didn't suck too much warmth out of our lambing season.  Then, Saturday morning, I went out (stumbled would be a better description) to do chores and found Lil' Rainbow standing around with her ears nearly flat back on her head!!  Rainbow doesn't DO that!  Only a shepherdess would catch such a detail!  I'm not sure I wanted to show this picture, cause you can't really see her ears back, but you CAN see how big she was for a little Shetland ewe!  And no, that mouser behind her is not a pregnant female!  That's Goldie, King of Pouches!  He didn't come in for breakfast too hungry that morning, but his pouch was swaying nearly to the floor.  Good boy, Goldie! He is always attentive to what I'm doing in the barn.  The fence panel behind Rainbow is the one Wooly Bear enjoyed karate-chopping on a couple of years ago.

 OOhh, she looks so uncomfortable!
A few hours later, Lil' Rainbow 'effortlessly' gave us very vigorous twin lambs!  One ram, one ewe!  The ewe became chilled, so I stayed out there for a long time, making sure everyone was alright.  But both lambs were up almost immediately!  Their strength and vigor are really amazing!  Both were nursing right away, although the ewe lamb, getting chilled, needed an attentive shepherdess to keep her in vigor.  Rainbow is also an excellent mother who was very attentive to both lambs immediately.  She did not care for one and leave the other; instead, she worked her way back and forth every few seconds, to get them both up and going.  Rainbow doesn't like handling, ever fearful of humans.  Yet, she tenderly let me help her and her lambs, as if knowing how much I care for them and want them to be healthy.  Sheep pick up on that.  It was so cold that night!  Wet, windy, and below freezing.  Yuck!  I nearly froze out there myself!

But things all worked out great, and the little lambs were soon boinging around in their jugs.  The straw makes for warm nests to nap in, and the moms can rest in peace, knowing their lambs cannot get too far away.  Whew!  Time for a shepherdess nap.....

Me, too!
Oh, my eyes are getting soooo heavy!

But that's not all!  Upon checking email, another adventure presented itself!  Pouring rain and flooding were predicted, and the cold winds were not letting up!  After two nights of getting up every hour or two, and being chilled through and through, a little break was welcome!

Then, this morning, more excitement!  First time mom, Wheely Wooly Lacey, surprised us with a very vigorous and handsome ram lamb!  He is a happy, frisky, boinging, playful surprise!  And MUCH to our relief, today is remarkably different temperature-wise...we went from below freezing and snowing yesterday at noon to 61 degrees by noon today!!!  I actually did chores in a t-shirt and was sweating! 

I'll stop here for now.  I came in for a cup of coffee and to research names for our new little lambs...and I can't wait to share what I've picked!  Happy Monday everyone! 

Later edit:  Not a happy Monday...we are very saddened to hear about the news out of Boston today.

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