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.

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!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy 4th from our farm to your home!


I've decided to wait in putting Wheely Wooly Peat's photo up until next week, as this week is special in our country and everyone has special plans.  Yesterday, we put up a few decorations we found (I actually didn't realize we had...).  It was fun!  Turns out, we had plenty so even the barn and hitching post were decorated. I think the Americats like them!

We also got our hay for the year yesterday and oh what a treat that was!  It's ALL grass!  I truly couldn't be happier!  Last year's drought is NOT officially over for any shepherdess until this year's hay is IN.  Whew!  There was lots of help, so the stacking went incredibly fast and before I knew it, it was all done.  

Also, we are working on next Saturday's market, getting ready.  Despite the work to be done (yes, the sheep need to be rotated already again!), I'm sure we'll take time out to enjoy some 4th of July festivities.  The weather looks like it'll be perfect.  Who could ask for anything more?

Happy 4th of July everyone!