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 28, 2014

Every animal is a soul.

When you work with animals every day, you really see how each one is a soul.  They have their own feelings, personalities, and quirks.  Charlotte is a pest, in a sweet, loving sort of way.  Iris likes being back a bit, but will come in for chin scratches at times.  Mona knows she's the boss, but does the job with respectful dignity.  It's a big and important job to keep the flock in order, and she doesn't take her responsibility with slack.   Misty is a fun babysitter, leaping and playing with the lambs even though she towers over them like a semi over a moped.  Wilbur is just there...always steady, always keeping the calm.  Primrose is sweet as can be, but comes with a bit of edge sometimes.  Honey, well, she is just plum sweet.  In fact, I still think of her as a lamb.

When animals leave the farm, you realize there is a void where their personalities once were.  Yesterday was another day of animals leaving the farm, and I miss them already!  They went to a great home, where their personalities and sweetness will hopefully blossom more lives, but it still leaves me with sadness.  Whether it's culling, or starting a new flock, I always hope to utilize a soul as much as possible here, to the best they can be before I let them go.  It's part of loving being a shepherd.  Sometimes, as in the case of yesterday, I let some go for the potential of the future.

Being a shepherdess to a flock of sheep is an enriching experience, filled with adventure, creativity, and challenges.  It's one of the best jobs in the world and I don't take it for granted on any day!

On a less mushy note...well...maybe not less's pouring rain here today.  The wind is howling, rattling windows, shaking the barn walls, and making the east doors so heavy, they are dangerous to open.  It takes a whole body to control the closing of the east barn door today, so that it doesn't slam and break something.  The weather will be like this most of the week to come, so it will be good for spinning!  The fields won't be dry for weeks yet and cleaning out the deep bedding in the barn will just have to wait, for the ground is just too wet for hauling it away.  The temps. are in the upper 40's but with the wind and rain, I'm still wearing my winter coat and Maewyn's wooly mittens.  I know spring is out there SOMEWHERE! lol  If you've seen it, will you send some to the north please?  Thanks!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Looking for a break soon!

With the winter behind us now, lambing done awhile back with lambs already weaning themselves off their mothers, and shearing wrapping up soon, we here at Wheely Wooly Farm are looking forward to rest.  The barn has been spruced up, the grass is beginning to green up and the fencing is ready and waiting.  It will be no big deal to get the sheep started on grass soon.  After that, we will finally have some down time to relax and enjoy!

In the meantime, we are still getting periods of heavy rain mixed in with drier days.  When it rains, I like working on little projects a bit here and there.  Check this out!

Pretty Granny Squares from Claire and Posie's wool!

We have lots of tidbits of yarn stached away here, that we've been saving for work just such as this.  It is super fun, and very easy.  Once you get the pattern down, it's easily memorized and away you go.  The color combinations are fun to experiment with and before you know it, you have a pile of squares to sew together for a project.  The yarn tails are not sewn in here, obviously.  I didn't think you'd mind seeing them fresh off the crochet hook.  We are currently out of many of these colors but Posie's 2014 fleece is currently on the wheel, and Claire's is drying...waiting to be spun.  My spinning is slow this time of year until I get all the fleeces in, hooves trimmed, fencing up, and so on.  Then, it's back to the joys of spinning away fleece by fleece!  Can't wait!

Hope you are all enjoying the freshness of spring!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Busy, busy, busy!!

A pretty wool hot pad knit during gentle spring rains.

Things have been very, very busy around here.  There is much to do.  The grass is beginning to green up, which surely seems very late for most of you across our vast country.  Up here where we live, spring is late and this year is quite late!  We are just now hearing the spring peepers in the moist fields and woods.

When we are not out in the barn working, we have little moments in the house to work on smaller, quicker knitting projects.  Above is the latest simple, yet rewarding little project.  It measures about nine inches across and was made in less than a day.  It's nice and thick for insulating hot dishes on the table.  It looks purply here in the picture but in reality, it's a lovely country apple red with deeper maroons speckled with a touch of russet and yellow/green.  The true color doesn't show at all in this picture.

Shearing has stopped due to heavy rains last week.  I put the sheep out until one day it rained so hard, I was afraid the little lambs would wash kidding!  We had gotten over four inches of rain last weekend in about two days, so the sheep stayed in a day or two, but are back out again.  In fact, despite more rain, the pasture has dried out enough to expand their spring space a bit.  The lambs have even more space to race around in the mornings and evenings when they pack together and spring up and down the pasture as fast as they can go.

As we tend the livestock, meadow larks can be heard in the distance, and the air is heavy with humidity.  The warmth is sooooooo refreshing!!!!!!!!  Our little wren has returned.  One year, he didn't and boy, did we ever miss him!  I hope he'll stay.  Most years, he doesn't find a mate and his nest, all prepared and ready, lays empty.

Here's a parting bit of fun:

Couldn't resist sharing! lol

Have a great day everyone!  And thank you to our latest group for inviting us to share about the sheep farming life!  We had a lot of fun and were impressed by the interest and curiosity of everyone!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The lambs are growing!

Wait a minute!  That's not your mother!

Flocks are social groups.  The sheep have relationships to each other, and in my flock, the ewes seem to care for and love other ewes' lambs.  This ewe is Minty.  She has nothing to do with Shetland, and technically, I don't own her.  She is a young ewe, who had her own lamb...a handsome fellow who is all white.  So who is this little fellow?

Minty is not only a great mother to her own lamb, who is growing immensly, but she mothers the other ewe's lambs as well.  The lambs know they can play on her safely and she won't mind.  Notice that she is so relaxed, she's chewing her cud while the little guy plays?  This little guy is one of Lerwick's lambs, and he is difinitely not that little anymore! lol

Spring has been quite calm this year so far up until today.  Lightning hit the farmhouse this afternoon, but no problems resulted from it.  There was much heavy rain and as I looked out the window, I began to worry my little lambs would be washed away, so I ran out and put them back in the barn.  Everyone got a good bath, and happily took advantage of the cloudy, rainy afternoon to take extra naps.  Later, the lambs were discussing the day's events in the creep feeder, all gathered around, leaping, and seemingly having a great little lamb party.

Guess I won't be shearing for a couple of days!  The fleeces left to be sheared will now be super soft and clean from the rain water.  Love that!