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, August 25, 2014

Violet, Lerwick's lamb

There is one person here on this farm who wanted to try something new in sheep.  This shepherd went shopping for their dream sheep with money saved over two years, and ultimately picked out and brought home some really nice ewes to breed.  Then, the search for a ram began, but one the shepherd really liked was not found in time, so the choice was made to use my purebred Shetland ram, Lerwick on these ewes for the first season.  Wow!  We are so glad we did that!

Meet Violet, one of Lerwick's lambs this year.
Isn't she lovely?
Thanks Lerwick!!

Violet is a keeper!  She is going to have a nice future here on this farm.  Her growth has been fantastic, with great bone density and glistening health.  She has excellent parasite resistance so far, and is a very calm sheep.  She has been raised like a Shetland, purely on grass.  And her fleece has her owner very, very, very excited.  Violet will be sheared this fall, and I have a feeling her fleece will be on the wheel as soon as it's dry!

Her twin is a ram and also has a wonderful fleece suitable for things their owner wants to do, which is dye the fibers and add glitz.  A pack of assorted glitz colors has already been purchased just for this, with money made selling stuff to friends.

I think this shepherd is having a ball with their sheep.  Thanks to Lerwick, things are going well!  A non-Shetland ram has already been selected for Violet this fall, as she has grown so nicely.
It will be really fun to see what happens next!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Busy, busy, busy!  Has it really been a month since I've last blogged?  I can hardly believe it!

The local birds planted this lovely sunflower for us last summer.
It measured sixteen inches across!

This summer has been a shepherd's dream weather wise!  We've had the best summer of weather I think I've ever experienced in my lifetime.  Everything is green, the grazing is great, the sheep are cool, and all is well.  Lerwick's lambs are growing beyond my wildest dreams and we'll be keeping one ram lamb over for breeding in the fall.   His name is Scrambler and I'm sorry I haven't had time to take pictures so you can see him!  (The pictures here today are recycled from prior years due to shortage of time this year.)  He's all white, with a longer staple to his lovely fleece.  (How easy I get to sheep talk!!)  Anyway, the weather has been so pleasant that I can hardly believe it.  When storms come through, they give us nice lightning for good growth, and nice rain, without dumping five inches in one dump, like we've had in the past.  There have been no high winds and very little tornado activity, so we are very grateful to say the least!  Temps have been in the fifties at night and seventies to low eighties most days with comfortable summer humidity...which for us is just a little humidity to feel like summer, but not enough to slow a person down.  As many places in our nation in the last few years, we've had so much bad weather, so this reprieve is such a relief.

 Watch for our signs at the market!

So far, market wise, we are having one of our best summers.  I apologize that I didn't have enough blue to meet your needs, but more will be coming in the week ahead.  I'm also thinking of making more hats for sale, as so many of you would like one.   I do have to charge for my labor in knitting them, which makes them more expensive, but if you want high performing, high quality winter wear that has awesome style, our hats are very reasonably priced!  I'll also have a mirror available in our booth now so you don't have to take pictures of yourselves anymore to see how you look! lol  By the way, when a knitter makes something, they can only hope it will look good on the intended person who'll be wearing the garment, when you're knitting 'blind'.  Yet, when you put our hats on, I'm stunned!  Shetland makes people look good!  I'll definitely be making more.

We also came perilously close to selling out of needles last week, so this week, we had new inventory!  Come and check out our colors as we're confident you'll find something you'll like!  I'm hoping that by next week, we'll have more of the larger size needles we offer, too.  I have only one pair left in natural color, but the new ones will be a variety of colors in your favorite picks (as well as more naturals).

Speaking of market, it was a real pleasure and honor to meet Bob, son of a well known antique spinning wheel restorer yesterday!  Every spinner has a soft heart for any and every wheel.  How lucky we were in hearing of your restoration adventures with antique wheels needing to be loved and brought back to life, and more of the museum in Pennsylvania!  It was a pleasure meeting you Bob, and we wish you well in your restoration endeavors in the future!  For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to meet Bob, you can learn more about him here:

Which brings me to EAA, er...Experimental Aircraft Association.  For those of you who don't know about EAA, it's a fabulous 'air extravaganza' right here in our airy back yard!  It used to draw just shy of one million visitors to our area, but I've learned that this year, the numbers are down to 500,000.  Wow.  That's a big drop, so this year has been quieter than usual  We were disappointed in the warbirds not making their loops over our pastures this year each day during the airshow, like they have in all the years we've lived here.  In fact, I grew up with those goofy old planes, and I guess I missed them!  One new thing that happened to us this year, that has never happened before was a pilot flying extremely low over our low in fact, the plane spooked our sheep and they panicked, running all over the place!  Thankfully, they stayed in their fence, and the also panicked shepherd was ready for a second comeback, which thankfully didn't happen.  We've never had a pilot fly so low before.  I saw his face, he was so low!  In fact, it has been an odd year with planes.  A few weeks ago, we noticed a little ultralight buzzing around above our pastures.  He was pretty high for an ultralight, and the pilot was suspended from a little bag, with his hands on the triangle thing for steering.  We all though he seemed so vulnerable up there.  Then, one day, the police were blocking traffic in front of our farm, asking people to turn around and find an alternate route.  Turns out, that ultralight was up flying that evening, and crashed in a field just a short distance from our farm.  We were very sad to hear the pilot died that beautiful evening!  That marks the second air fatality in our neighborhood in two years.

One thing that didn't change was the buzzing skywriters flipping out in their planes just to the east of our peaceful, grazing sheep.  One afternoon, I went out and stood among the ewes and lambs and just watched the pilot flip himself over and over, up and down, all over the place while drawing perfect loops in the sky.  The sheep were unimpressed, just chewing their cud or tearing off grass but I was having fun watching the plane, as I do every year.  But soon, the skies went quiet again...ususually so for EAA.   By week's end, we were beginning to wonder how the whole week went for EAA, as it was not typical out here.  It was quiet.

As I'm writing this, a nice little summer thunderstorm is giving us good rain and cool breezes, with distant thunder.  I will have to say, it has not been a summer of all work, but the shepherdess and family have been able to take nice time away from the farm as well.  It's important to relax and have a little down time, which for me usually spells more great ideas! lol

Well, hope all of you are having a great summer!  If you are ever in our area, be sure to check out our huge market Saturday mornings and experience the joys small farms bring to communities yourselves!  We're confident you won't be disappointed!