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 29, 2013

Black Bear kills Mini Donkey

Here is the story.  Go to  to read about it.  I know we live with bears, wolves, cougars, and bobcats, not to mention coyotes and loose domestic dogs all around us.  Our neighbors saw a bobcat cross their driveway last fall around 4 in the afternoon, and we have found wolf tracks and mystery tracks that perhaps were from a bobcat passing through one winter right here on our farm.  This very sad bear attack is just a bear's stroll north of our farm.

It is for these reasons, I run my flock in at night.  I know attacks happen during daylight, but with so much human activity around here, that is unlikely.  Someday, I'd like to have a mini-donkey.  I LOVE them!  They take me back to my Colorado Rockies days, where the mining history positively fascinated me.  Those little donkeys are not pets, but extremely useful, tough little workers!  I read countless stories and studied many old photos of donkeys hauling 12 foot boards up the mountain passes to haul in the lumber needed to build the boom towns.  The boards were tied to the two sides of the donkeys, with one end by their heads high in the air, the other end dragging on the ground.  The goal was to arrive in the mine towns with at least 10 feet still left on the boards!!!  Whole donkey trains were tied together to slowly make their way up the passes.  Incredible.  Of course, they were also used in the mines...the more awful side to their history.  Around the world, donkeys are still utilized tremendously for work.  How silly of us Americans to forget that!!  How sad this donkey owner lost his animal.

Spring is happening!

Wait a minute!  Are you a sheep?

Spring is beginning to happen around here, which means things are speeding up!  We now have three sets of twins and two singles in our flock, all of them 'black'! (...and don't forget Daisy!)  I spent time this weekend setting up our rotational fencing and getting the lambs trained to it on pasture.  It's too early for grazing much, so I have designated space where the flock can be out, get a little grass, but not be in a place that will ruin summer grazing.  This is a big fenced in area, where the lambs can run and play.  I've already noticed cars stopping on the road to watch the lambs play!  They are great advertising!

This weekend was such unbelievable warm weather, it was really nice!  We were around low 70's both days, with calm winds and lots of sunshine.  I actually got some vegetables planted, and spent two hours pruning out those thorny, brambly summer raspberries!  I hate that job, but it's worth it.  The grass is greening up and will soon be growing!  Oh, how sweet that sounds!!!!!  We also spent quite a bit of time cleaning up downed limbs from that terrible ice storm we had.  The ground is now finally firm enough in most places to get out there without ruining the grass.  Glad that job is done!

And guess what?  I finished my Wooly Bear sweater!  It's all blocked and everything already...well...I do have to sew my buttons on yet, but I don't have the right kind of thread.  I'll post pictures of it soon!  And I named Mona's lambs Wheely Wooly Moorwyn and Wheely Wooly Mousa!  Mousa is an island in the Shetland Islands, known for it's rich diversity of herby plants and grasses.  Mousa apparently means in Old Norse, or Norwegian "mossy" or "moss-like".  The island is about 15 miles south of the port of Lerwick, off the southeast coast of Shetland.  It is treeless, and well used for grazing sheep.  It also has the highest broch (fortified tower) around, thought to be more than 2,000 years old!!!!  

Tomorrow, the sheep are going onto new pasture adjacent to the one they've been on this weekend.  I'll try to get nice pictures of them out there so you can meet Maggie Mae, Lark, Rapport, Rapunzel, Gansey, Peerie, Moorwyn and Mousa!  I'm hoping a nice, gentle rain will come along and wash their fleeces of spring mud season dust!

And I almost forgot to mention...there was a black bear attack just a bear's stroll to the north of here!  It attacked a mini-donkey.  I don't know the outcome for the donkey, but the bear, not scaring away, was shot during the attack apparently.   It is thought that the bears are crankier than normal years due to our late spring.  Seems food is harder to find.  Yikes!  I'm still thinking a zip line to the barn is the thing for me!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope everyone got to enjoy the beauty of this weekend and here's to a good week ahead!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mona twins! One ram, one ewe

I just came in from the barn...Mona had her lambs today!  She didn't report for breakfast, so right away, I knew today was the day.  She's been guarding a nice nest in a corner for at least a week, so we were watching her closely.  Not much to worry about really because a) she's a Shetland and b) she's done this before!

As soon as the first lamb was born, I noticed right away what long ears it had!  That's a signature of her lambs, just like Twilight passes on teddy bear ears.  The first one is the ram lamb, and he was up right away.  I couldn't believe how sturdy on his legs he was so quickly!  He was doing really well, but I was really hoping by the looks of how large Mona was that she'd have another lamb.  I waited quite awhile, getting nervous.  She waited until the first lamb was up and nursing before she had the second one!  How's that for experience?  The ewe was born next, and she gently attended her while the little fellow brightly studied his new world atop his new legs!

I've put them in a jug for dipping navels, clean ground, and later, so Mona can eat without competition.  I have to say, the other little lambs, who were in the same space as Mona while she lambed, were a total crack up!  There are hens free-ranging around this year in the lambing shed.  I don't think I'll do that again next year, as the hens kept creating a ruckus every little while!!  It was annoying when birth is so peaceful!  Well, the first lambs are very playful and attentive little rock-hoppers, and they positively delighted in chasing the hens out of the pen during Mona's quiet time!  Thanks little lambs!!!! :)

It's truly amazing to see how the rest of the ewes become so gentle and considerate when someone else is lambing.  I know ewes can become possessive or even try to steal someone else's new lamb, but today, everyone was very tender and gentle...careful to give Mona lots of space, careful to not be disruptive.  One by one, the ewes would come over and check out Mona's new lambs.  At first I was nervous about that, but their tenderness showed I needn't worry.  With all animals, there is good and bad.  Today was a ton of good, and they cease to amaze me!

Almost forgot to mention...both lambs are black!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meet Daisy!

Spry little Daisy!

Meet little Daisy!  She comes to our flock from one of the finest flocks in our state.  Remember that email I mentioned in earlier posts?  This little lamb was the result of those emails!  She was described to us as "spry", and that she is!  

She was tiny when we picked her up, and only a few days old.  I believe the email said she was one of 6 lambs born to the mother!  We've kept her in the warming box in the kitchen, with time out to hop and play.  Yesterday, it was warm enough to take her outside to play, and what fun she had!  She is strong, playful, vocal, and determined!  It has been a joy caring for her!

Hopefully, I'll get pictures of our Shetland lambs soon!  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wheely Wooly Gracelyn twins ewes!

After having a frigid and dark weekend off, with bitter cold strong wind, accumulating snow, dreary skies, and a temporary halt to lambing, Monday has started off with a MUCH nicer turn of events!

First, it was a positively BALMY 42 degrees at 6 am this morning.  The birds are very happy...the ones still surviving...and the spring peeper frogs were singing away from distant low spots on land nearby.  Nothing brings in the sound of spring like the frogs!  On that first, early barn check, excitement!  TWO little black lambies were running around near Gracelyn, except one was on the wrong side of the fence!!!!!  That's never happened before!  Always something new with lambing!

It was easy to see that Gracelyn handled her second lambing effortlessly, and had everything under control, except containing the friskies!  All the other ewes were away, somewhere else.  The lambs were already hopping about with full tummies.  And Gracie was content, calm, and proud!  I love Shetlands!!!!!!

On my last barn check last night, Gracie showed no signs.  I'm pretty good at picking up on early signs, such as Rainbow's nearly flattened ears, or teeth grinding, or a hidden nest somewhere.  Mona has had a nest picked out, and under guard for several days now.  But Gracie was just fine...chewing her cud, content, relaxed, in her favorite sleeping spot.  It was obvious she would twin, for she was huge!

After some careful thinking, I managed to get them in the prepared jug.  They don't really seem to need it, but I wanted to get them on good clean ground, dip their navel cords, and give Gracie her post lambing smorgasbord (a nice flake of hay, really...but one she can enjoy without competition).  Besides, it gives me a chance to sit right down in the jug with them, and meet our new little sheep!  And they are sure sweet!  Their names will be Wheely Wooly Gansey and Wheely Wooly Peerie.  We also have Lil' Rainbow's lambs, Wheely Wooly Rapport and Wheely Wooly Rapunzel.  Lacey's lamb is named Wheely Wooly Lark, for he was the first little lamb born and brought much happiness and surprise...two days before the lambing window opened, yet vigorous and ready to rock-hop!  What a lark! :)  And Maewyn's lamb, as you know, is Wheely Wooly Maggie Mae, the one with the teddy bear ears.  Fun!

So that makes seven little lambies so far...two rams and five ewes, with one not being out of our flock but rather, a bottle lamb we've adopted.  We still have several ewes to go, but they will be spread out.  I was really hoping we could do some pasture lambing this year, so maybe that might still come true!  In the meantime, our barn is a hoppin' place with lots of mischief!

Have I mentioned how much I love Shetlands? :)
PS...the first barn swallow of the season was spotted resting on a beam in the barn this morning...very quiet, still and tired looking!  I think it was a rough journey!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Here's the view out my window today.  sigh

Well, today I was gonna put up fence.  Maybe I'll just stay inside!  I seem to be having a lull in lambing this weekend.  Good thing!  The weather is not lamb friendly, with lows near 20 degrees through the night and lots of cold, drafty wind.  If I had put up fence today, in total defiance of the weather, I probably wouldn't have put the ewes out there anyway.  There is a strong wind blowing that is very cold.  Shetlands can certainly handle that...piece of cake... but if anyone did have her lambs out there, it could quickly mean disaster, so I guess they will stay tucked in the barn for another day.  Even the most hardy, vigorous lambs would find that cold, strong wind a real challenge to overcome right after birth.

Meanwhile, frisky lambs are playing in the mixing pen.  I have rubber tubs for feeding that are perfect 'rocks' for little Shetland rock-hoppers.  I turn them upside down, giving them endless fun as they hop up on it, hop around, and leap off in all sorts of ways!  I can't believe how fast they are growing already!  I check all the udders on the ewes from time to time just to make sure things are going along good, and they are.  Shetlands are well known for good udders and plentiful milk, and we are certainly seeing that here.

Speaking of easy, it's easy to think you are a good shepherd when you have Shetlands.  Shetlands are very easy sheep in many ways.  Don't learn to shear on them (!), but otherwise, they will help you experience success as a shepherd that other breeds would find hard to compete with.  I'm very careful to not take it for granted how easy these sheep are...the old, hardy lines out of Shetland.  We have other babies here on the farm and things are just not the same in terms of birthing ease, udder development, mothering instinct, and vigor in babies getting started.  Experiencing the reality of other types of breeds and animals really builds appreciation for not messing around with those old hardy lines of Shetland sheep!!!!!!!!

I hoping to get some photos of the lambs this afternoon, so I might do a blog update later today if I can.  But I also want to 'say' something else.  Blogs are read by an amazing dynamic of readers.  There IS no 'profile' or 'demographic' to blog readers.  Our readers are people of nearly all ages.  Some live in the cities.  Some live in very remote locations.  Some long to have sheep.  Some have had enough of sheep and want to hang it up.  Some come to our blog to learn about life on a sheep farm.  Some read to share in like-minded choices of lifestyle.  I have been asked why my blog isn't more "professional" or "business-like".  The answer?  Not everyone who reads my farm blog is a "business person" or "professional"!  Sheep pertain to everyone.  There IS no demographic of people who are interested in sheep.  Sheep are loved by all.  They are deeply rooted in our global history, global cultures, global ethnicities, and global food supply.  We are all here today because our ancestors kept and utilized sheep, directly or indirectly.  Some of our readers are youth.  Some are people who speak very little English.  Some are people who have no idea how hard it is to maintain a flock.  We are read by all kinds.  THAT is certainly one of the most beautiful things about sheep!!!!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Teddy Bear Ears...

I forgot to mention...see those little teddy bear ears?  They have come down the line from Wheely Wooly Twilight!  These teddy bears have become his signature in his line.  Little Wheely Wooly Maggie Mae is his grand lamb, and continues to carry this very cute trait.  Love it!

Teddy Bear Ears

The ewes that have lambed are now in the mixing pen with their frisky little lambs.  Putting them in the mixing pen is always one of the worst days of the year for me.  Shetland ewes are very good, strong mothers so when you put them with other ewes, some whacking can occur amongst the moms.  Sometimes little lambs, in their still teetery stage of using their legs can get in the way, taking an unintended hit!  I really don't like that!   That's why I always supervise the first little while they are in together, to make sure all goes ok to the best I can.  Maewyn was the strongest mom this time, not wanting ANYONE near her little Maggie Mae (another ewe or lamb that is...she seems fine with me around).  Rainbow is a much more casual mother this time around, letting her lambs get farther away and not really worrying about it! 

But soon, the new moms realize their lambs cannot get too lost, and that they can relax at the mom cafe, while the lambs gang up to play.  After a day or so, the moms are munching their hay together in peace, as the lambs tear around them, under them, in front of them, or through them in all their playful explorations.  Since all of the lambs so far are "black", it's really fun to watch them tear around, leaping, boinging, and springing about!

And for those of you who know Chaminoux, she has had her babies!!!!!!!!  That was quite a wait!  She had a boy who weighed 10 pounds at birth!  We named him Sparkle PRC Musical, because he is so musical in his sweet callings.  The girl weighed a really nice 8 pounds, is more refined and elegant and is very pretty!  We named her Sparkle PRC Charlotte.  They are both sparkling white, and we are thrilled with how it all came out with them!

AND that little surprise via email?  Daisy!  I'll have to post who Daisy is, and how cute she is!  We are loving Daisy!

So our hands are full of boinging, springing, skittering, hopping fun around here...except the weather is terrible!  It is snowing today, the winds are blasting with wind chills in the low 20's, and our low temperature tonight will be in the low 20's!  The good news is that our lambs and everybody are all in the barn, safe and sound.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.  Also, as I look out the window, today is the first time this year I can look out without seeing any snow on the ground at all.  What a relief!  Despite the cold, the grass is TRYING to green up....

Almost forgot to mention that several ewes are still due to lamb.  I'm grateful they haven't yet...ever hopeful that the weather will warm up one of these days!

Our thoughts are with all of you in Boston today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Not! and ice shoves

 Not needed!

Here is my dear, old, tattered clothes pin bag...hanging ready...waiting...looking worn and forlorn!  With this wild weather, as you can see in our last post, nothing will be billowing from the clothes line anytime soon!  This bag, by the way, was my Grandmother's bag.  She made it many decades ago.  I remember it hanging from her clothes line, in the bright light of youthful memory.  Every time I reach in for a clip, I feel her close by, knowing her hands reached in countless times long before me.
 Not seen!

This picture was taken on April 10th of last year!!  So hard to believe!  This year, our grass is still mushed down from deep snow, still brown, still wearing the grime of winter.  Mud is everywhere.  There is no color. 
Not yet!

No!  No sunlight!  Sigh....all I can do is hurry up and wait!

Well, we didn't get another round of ice storm, but we might tonight!  This is our third night of freezing temps, pouring rain, and wind.  It's a bit like the Shetland Islands around here!  Several trees on our farm were snapped or damaged in the ice.  One was on a power line to the house, sagging it down.  Ice would rumble off the roof, only to crash to the ground and smash in pieces, making the dogs bark.  The rams outside were scared of the crackling, weighed down shade trees outside their pen, and I found them at the far end along the fence, scared to come closer to the trees.  I put them in the barn now, as their land is flooded with rain that cannot seep down due to frost still in the earth.  The ice falling off trees, onto the barn roof was deafening.  The sheep were not fazed, remarkably.  Wish I could say the same for myself! :)

Have you ever heard of ice shoves?  Near our farm is a big lake.  I grew up on that lake.  Every spring, as the deep ice thaws and cracks up, there is a threat of the ice being blown around by strong spring storms.   If the wind is strong enough, it can blow huge chunks of ice up onto the shoreline, creating huge piles.  Around here, we say the 'ice is shoving', or 'there was an ice shove last night'.  It's a familiar sound to me...the cracking/booming/and tinkling sound of ice moving, shattering, crawling.  It brings rocks up from the shoreline, and takes out anything in it's path...shrubs, light or flag poles, boat lifts, boats, and sometimes even parts of houses that have been built too close to the shoreline.  Well this storm created a dandy shove this year!  Wish I had pictures for you, but I've stayed close to the farm with several ewes ready to lamb.  

Hope we don't get more freezing rain tonight!  Where's spring?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dear Facebook Friends, and Surprise!

If you have any questions regarding Lil' Rainbow, don't be afraid to ask!  :)

 Ugh! (That's Annabelle through the window...trying to look out.)

We had quite a surprise storm last night!  Rain had been forecast, with flood warnings in low-lying areas.  Ice storm was not part of the vocabulary!  This morning, we woke up to this!  Ice is covering everything.  Limbs are down.  Trees are bent over.  Fences are sagging.  Cars were in the ditches everywhere.  School was NOT called off, or delayed!  Power is out is some areas.  And I think everyone was caught by surprise by this huge ice storm.  I had to stand still out there and just listen.  It was interesting.  The wind is blowing, causing the ice to crack and snap on the trees, but none of it is melting or falling off.  Strange.  Off in the distance, in the pastures, the meadowlark is singing, and the sandhill cranes are calling.  What a strange combination!  Crackling ice and spring bird song!  

Bad news.  More is on the way for tonight.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

What we don't have...YET :)

I was looking back through some photos from last year, a year in which spring came extremely early.  Last March was full of 70 degree plus days and lots of warm sunshine.  This year is so much different from that!  Our warmest day since last December was last week, when we got up to 52 degrees.  That only lasted one day!  All other days have been in the 20's and 30's with this week finally getting into the 40's.  But guess what?  SNOW is in the forecast for us mid week!  That's just when my lambing window opens! 

 Wheely Wooly Starlight
Notice the warm, bright sun and green, growing grass?

We've had very little warm, bright sun this spring, and the grass is still under snow in some areas.  Frost is still in the ground, and the grass showing is still mushed from the weight of the winter's snow and still very, very brown.  It's fun and encouraging to see these photos of growing, green grass and sun-warmed lambs!  The color and brightness are a real shock to barren, winter-brown eyes.  If all goes well, that's what we'll have in the weeks to come.

It is a joy, however, to see the geese out there in the pouring rain and foggy skies!  They think it's heaven out there!  Splashing around in the puddles, strolling through the mud, and grazing ANY grass at all is just what they most desire!  It's fun to watch them from the windows.  They spend a lot of their time preening and shining up those lovely, bright white feathers.  And Hyssop takes breaks now and then to neaten up her nest and lay an egg. Speaking of rain, I do love the sound of raindrops on the windows...the sweetest music of spring there is!
More farmhouse decor

...and more farmhouse decor! lol
Wilbur's fleece, freshly sheared, washed, and drying

Our shearing season has begun here on Wheely Wooly Farm.  I started with Claire, who's an East Friesian.  Friesians can be sheared anytime, and I usually do her in late February or early March, but with the very cold, late spring we've had this year, I waited until last week.  Her fleece is sheared, washed, and well spun already on the wheel.  Fun!  I also sheared Wilbur two days after Claire (the time it takes for a fleece to air dry in our farmhouse).  He had an outstanding fleece last year, only to have it felt on his back after a wicked, super heavy downpour one night that knocked out power and flooded everything!  This year, I'm not waiting around and taking any chances!  He is a BFL cross, and most likely to "roo himself" through the fence to graze blades of grass that somehow look greener than the ones inside the fence look!  He is such a piece of cake to shear!  He's a good, easy sheep to start the year with...but then again, so is Claire.  They both stand really nice, and their fleeces are very easy to shear. 

That's our update!  Have a great Monday everyone!  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Other Swift...

 Claire's Wacky Peachy Pink!  Fun!

We have two kinds of swifts around here.  One is super fast, frequently full of mud, and holds sheep in a pen.  The other is also super fast, is never muddy but frequently has very pretty colors on it, and it holds sheep in yarn!  Isn't it pretty?  Colors like this are very pleasant to work with after a long winter and cold spring start.  It doesn't matter the season around here, sheep's wool and all it's comfortable possibilities will always keep me occupied!

Today, I've included some more photos of what it looks like around here in our old farmhouse.  As the years have passed, we have acquired quite a collection of thank you notes and letters from customers and visitors! I started out placing them in an old hutch I have, where they can be viewed.  Many of them are thanking us for working to create beautiful handspun yarns, others have thanked us for allowing their children to bottle feed a lamb or experience what it's like to stand near a flock!  They are all treasured notes, and we thank those of you out there for your kind words!  In time, some of the notes and letters migrated into picture frames...and were hung on the wall for sharing.   They all move me, but below is a photo of a letter written by a young sheep admirer, thanking me for letting them come watch me shear a sheep.  It was a hot June day that day, but that's how it goes with Shetlands, who are sheared nearer summer solstice than practically any other breed.  I think it says something when kids are that interested, and interested in sheep they are!!

But sheepy thank you notes, cards, and newspaper articles aren't the only things we've gathered as memories around here.  As you can see, we have saved eggs from certain hens, feathers from certain chickens, and other farmy miscellaneous, such as the pretty yellow sulfur moth 'butterflies' we saw by the thousands over an alfalfa field just west of here one day, or a hawk's feather, or a blue jay feather, or acorns, or heart-shaped rocks found on local beaches , or yarns from favorite sheep and ribbons for past accomplishments.  I haven't been very good at getting all those ribbons up on the wall!  They are currently in stacks, safely tucked away in our yarn cabinets and hutches.
The 'ol hutch has become a lane of memories...

When you 'farm sheep', your life has a much deeper dimension to it.  We here at Wheely Wooly Farm treasure that dimension, and therefore, continue to gather little momentos of our days here.  It's such a happy way to live, even if some sadness is part of working on a farm.  I wouldn't change a thing!  I always think about these things as we head into lambing!  Waiting for lambs means time on your hands to look around and reflect on where you've been in all the busyness.

Speaking of our farm, watch for our ad in the NASSA News, which is the quarterly newsletter of the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association!

Have a good day everyone!