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, August 27, 2013

What could we possibly.... up to now? lol
Can I spin that?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Grab your market basket!

I can hardly believe that market day has whirled around again!  This summer is really flying by and there has been much to do.  But before I go on, I thought you'd enjoy a picture of a sunflower from our garden.  This little cutie is sure nice to have in vases around the house!
Cherry Rose sweet!

I'm sorry I did not get a picture of Chickaline the broody hen with her little brood yet!  She has three little black/white/and yellow chicks (Barred Rocks), and one buff Ameraucana chick.  I will surely try to get that picture soon.  In the meantime, I've been working on mittens that I wanted to complete before fair, but didn't get them done.  They are made from fiber raised here on our farm, in fact the yarn comes from Wheely Wooly Whirlwind...we call him Whirly for short.  He's the little fellow who was born during the bypassing tornado near our farm one year.  His fiber has a wonderful depth to it, which looks harmonious with dyed colors, making them pop.   
Whirly Mittens with Friesian Dyed Crocheted Flower

As you can see, the thumb is on a piece of scrap yarn, and hasn't been knitted yet.  This is a very simple mitten pattern that can be whipped up in very little time.  Shetland mittens are outstanding for winter here in Wisconsin.  I use them for barn mittens, going away mittens, spring mittens, deep cold mittens and driving mittens.  Each one is treasured!!  Deep cold mittens are double layers.  Barn mittens get felted as they freeze to stall latches and water bucket handles when the fibers get wet from sloshing around.  Going away mittens are clean and perfect looking, and usually smell pretty like hand lotion.  Driving mittens are lighter weight, to compensate for the heater in the vehicle.  Driving mittens are also made with longer cuffs, for days when snow needs to be brushed off the windshield, to prevent that nasty cold wrist problem.  Over the years, I have found that britch wool is best for all these mittens.  It is stronger, and can take the snow better.  I do not find them itchy in any way, in fact, I treasure them!  This mitten will be knitted down to the finger tips yet, probably a few more inches.  Then, I'll put the thumb in, weave in the tails, sew on the flower, and they will be done!  

So find your market baskets, grab your grocery money, and head out to market in the morning!  It's going to be a beautiful day and we have lots of yarns to choose from.  Pick up your fresh dill, sunflower/cosmo bouquets, goat cheese curds, and sweet corn, goat soap, fresh carrots, and great BBQ sauce, fresh European breads and scones, and of course, great yarn from your Local Friendly Sheep!  See you then! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Goldfinches, and Trophies!

My, how time flies!  The days flit past like those beautiful little goldfinches tweeting up and down, up and down, swooping into the sunflower forest and landing so deftly on a giant seed head.  I wish I could land on my feet so elegantly when time flies like that!

EAA-er's have now long since flown home and our pastures have returned to the calls of sandhill cranes rather than the rumble of warbirds.  The sheep can now graze without being pretend targets for old bombs, like people in a city.  As peace has returned once again, a hush has fallen over the farm as we headed out on the road for summer fun!  In between the work of spinning, knitting, and tending our garden and farm chores, we did manage to squeek in some good showing, and came home with lots of ribbons and three trophies!  Earning those trophies is so emotional as sometimes an animal can take a hit healthwise in unexpected ways, sending you into tears and late nights in helping it's heath restore itself.  Sometimes you wonder if only prayers can bring an animal back, but late nights, long days, and support of friends can do wonders for an animal as well!  This time, we are very fortunate to say that it all paid off and success was very sweet!  This animal will still be shown in the future, as she was Champion of Champions last year, and this year, an almost bigger victory, a blue in her class!  She came home content, peaceful, and ready to get back to her daily work here on the farm.  Totally sweet!  I love the farm!  What a ride....up and down, up and down, just like the goldfinches!

In the meantime, while out showing, our little broody hen hatched out four little chicks!  You cannot pick the timing of a broody hen....and well, that's the timing she picked!  We are delighted with her little chicks and she is an outstanding mom.  The chicks love riding on her back.  I hope to get some pictures of that for you!  I know it's not about sheep, but I'll put it up anyways, if I can get a good picture.

After returning home from showing, our Posie, Polar Bear's mom and Claire's lamb, came in off pasture one night extremely dizzy and weak!!!  I was walking through the barn just after they were run in and I noticed her on her side, spinning around in an attempt to get back on her feet.  It was awful!  I quickly jumped the fence, ran in to stop the spinning and helped her get up.  Seeing how dizzy and weak she was, I helped her to her favorite sleeping corner while DH ran to get extra fence panels to fence her in.  After much studying and a long call to the vet (who didn't know what to think), we determined she was not suffering from poisoning.  Instead, she was grossly thin!  For some reason, she had stopped eating!  I gave her some things to jump start her metabolism, which thankfully worked in less than fifteen minutes.  What a relief!  She went from low blood glucose pose to back on her feet, still weak, dizzy, and dehydrated, but ON HER FEET!  I was so happy!!!  I drenched water and electrolytes into her for the next few hours and kept her on close observation as her eyes brightened and her stance stabilized.  DH ran out to get a pizza, which we ate from our lawn chairs just outside her pen while we watched her improve.  We weren't confident we were out of the danger zone with her yet.  It was pretty late when we finally headed into the house, but we still were dazzled by the night sky, stopping to watch the meteor showers and glow of the milky way.  It was an amazing, peaceful, bright night here on the farm, and a happy one, too, because Posie was improving.  All the next day, she still wouldn't drink on her own, so I drenched her every little while to get her rehydrated.  She is worth every second I spend on her in time!  It worked!  By that evening, she was drinking from her pail of fresh clean water.  What a relief!  She is still not out of danger yet, but she is eating the hay we're giving her and other supplements to try to get her back up to weight.  I think she is so intensely bonded to her little Polar Bear that she literally worried herself sick!  So the first day she was kept in, we kept him with her, then migrated him to the pen just outside her's but side by side, then the next day, we let him run out in the morning with the rest of the flock.  She fretted for a couple of hours, then began to accept that he was safe out there with the others.  She could finally rest.  We put little Daisy in with her as they get along good, and she seemed to appreciate the company.  Polar Bear, by the way, is growing faster than any weed you can think of!  He is a CUTIE!

Well, that is a quick summation of the days since our last post.  We hope to see all of you tomorrow at the market!  It's been perfect weather, and there will be a bounty of goodies for your kitchen, pantry, and home, so be sure to bring your grocery money and a strong, big bag!  See you then!

Oh yeah, don't forget to get out your biggest vase tonight!  I'm sure the sunflower bouquets will be knock-out gorgeous tomorrow!