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, June 10, 2013

Halter training rams and fleeces

Yes, I halter train ALL rams here.  In fact, I think it's insane NOT to.  Rams are unpredictable, social torpedos who NEED to clunk around.  If they are afraid of you, watch out!  If they understand you, and you can communicate with them, they are a lot safer, and much more pleasant to have around!!  I've never understood how people move or handle sheep they are terrified of?  Or don't have trained to be handled?  Or don't ever touch unless they have the animal flipped upside down?  How do you get to know/see/feel/and assess a sheep if you never touch it, or get near it????????

I don't know the answers to those questions.  I handle all my sheep frequently.  I not only move them around, but I attend their births, trim their hooves, shear them, give them shots when needed, deworm them if needed, feed them treats, pick things out of their fleeces, do body condition scoring on them,  rotate them on pasture, and kiss their lambs.  (I knowIknow I shouldn't do that, but who can resist? :)  I also process their fleeces into yarn, then knit it up as fast as I can! :)  Then, I delight in wearing what I've made, knowing that my sheep have a great life, a great purpose, and that they've made a great contribution, just as they have for thousands of years.  It's why sheep and humanity have never been separated.  Humans love sheep, always have.  I digress.

My Shetland rams all have horns. I halter train them all.  It takes time, and they learn it at different times/rates, but they all learn it.  I've been very thankful for being able to throw a halter on the leader of a group and lead them all in during emergencies.  The horns are no big deal with a halter.  You just have to make your loop bigger.  And believe me, emergencies DO come up...things you could never think of, but happen.

I mean, which would you rather do?...DRAG or chase, or scare a ram into a new pen during breeding season, hoping he won't turn on you and whack you? (and hoping you won't get wounded in the drag struggle...he as terrified of you as you are of him)...or walk straight up to him while he's chewin' cud, put the halter on him, have him follow you out the gate like a dog just out of obedience school, walk along side you on a loose lead to the girls pen, stand patiently while you remove the halter at the gate, then you open the gate and he goes right on in?  I'll take the second reality any day!

There are many pointers, tips, and demos I could do for people who are interested in halter training rams or any sheep.  In fact, I have been helping people for years learn how to better manage their sheep with halters for a variety of purposes.  That's one of the reasons I designed Shetland Showcase, because after we attended a sheep show, we were SWAMPED with questions on how we had halter trained our sheep.  People were desperate for the answers, and we knew we could help.

If you'd like to learn more about halter training rams, give us an email by clicking on our email to the right here on the blog.  We'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Fleeces bagged up after shearing in the 2013 season, skirted, weighed, and waiting for the next step.

I hope we were able to answer some questions tonight about halter training Shetland rams.  If not, don't be shy!  Email us!  In the meantime, our first market is fast approaching, and we are still getting ready.  More yarn has been dyed!  I'll have lots of colors to choose from that you won't want to miss!  We are in a NEW LOCATION this year, just across from Gabriel Furniture.  Watch for the purple tent as we joyfully celebrate our fifth year at this wonderful market!

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