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, September 29, 2014

More Winnings!

For those of you who know who is winning all this stuff, here is the update!

Advanced Showmanship Reserve Champion!

Saturday was yet another fun day for the shepherds on Wheely Wooly Farm!  There was no market that day due to Appleton's splendid Oktoberfest, which is a huge event separate from the weekly market activities.  It's a great day to deviate from the world of sheep, into the fascinating and incredibly diverse world of poultry.  This year, the focus was on moving up in the hardest category of showmanship.  Advanced showmanship is for the smartest, wisest, and brightest!  lol  Well, it IS the category of those who have earned top trophies at least three times in other qualifying events, just to get INTO the competition.  Our competitor succeeded at that right out of the gate and rapidly advanced.  

However, Advanced showmanship has been the most fun!  The competition includes competitors from the entire state.  These competitors know their stuff, and work very hard at winning.  This is no piece of cake!  So this year, it is with many smiles and lots of sweat that this trophy now graces the pile of other trophies in the farmhouse on Wheely Wooly Farm!

This time, it's a golden chicken.  It's been a long wait for a golden chicken!!  Funny, the things that inspire...

Back to the know I can't stay off the topic of sheep long fall progresses, changes need to take place in the flock.  This is the time of year the rams really shine.  They've spent the last many, many months as obscure, good boys hangin' out, chewing cud, and listening to the birds while laying in the shade, but things are a changin' based on the whacking sounds coming from their pen!  As you get closer, you hear their grunts and the sound of horns clicking, as they tussle to the vibes of hormones.  I always wonder what is must be like to be such sweet creatures that are totally hijacked by those raging, wild hormones every fall!  

As the cool air moves in, the rams seem to wake up and realize they have a very important job to do.  Don't try to stop them! lol  This year, Lerwick is getting the same ewes he got last year, as we really liked the results of those pairings.  Wooly Bear has a batch of ewes that give a variety of color in fleeces that we love.  Some of the white ewes are going to a new, non-Shetland ram whom we also love!  Fall is an exciting time, as you put months of planning and dreaming into progress!  They will all go together this year around Oct. 1st.  We planned it late this year for a variety of very, very, very exciting, and scary reasons!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I cannot share about that at this time.

It's also a sad time as we have to say goodbye to some we love.  Some changes have been made to make those days easier, and that was really nice,  Plus, hay comes in, the barn is cleaned out and ready, and it's time to repair fences and stash them away for the next grazing season.  Speaking of grazing, our ewes are STILL out grazing!  The grass is in great shape and we'll be able to go awhile yet.  It's been a good year that way.  The flock is well trained now (meaning the lambs we're keeping) in moving away from our sheep dog, moving through pens and grazing spaces, so things are very peaceful around here and everyone is content with the exception of the hijacked rams.  I'm always amazed at how they turn  into poor fellows, at the whims of hormones and whacks, knocking themselves senseless and clicking horns like ceaseless chatter!  Nature is an amazing thing!  And how handsome they are, in their glory!  

As a shepherd, ya gotta love the rams.  If you don't, it would be so much harder!  The rams have a natural beauty all their own of might, power and brilliance...and I love to admire them....on the OTHER side of the fence! lol

Up next, either Whirly's awesome natural colored mittens with bright blue swirly flowers or the purple yarn I just dyed for socks.  Coming off the wheel, more Claire and more Iris, then more Shetland black. Have a great day everyone! 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sock Season's Comin'! Are ya Ready?

The weather has turned cool and crisp here on Wheely Wooly Farm!  The pastures are deep green, the grazing is good, and the sheep are very, very happy.  There is a peacefulness about them out in the late summer sunlight, all heads down, so content and quiet.  The air has been pretty fresh, and the goldfinches are tweeting all day lately.

When the evenings come, it's time already to pour some delicious apple cider and slip on some warm, cozy sheepy socks!  Oh what a simple pleasure in life!  What??!??  You don't have any?  Well it's time to learn and make yourself some!  Oh?  You can knit almost anything?  Time to head on down to the Wheely Wooly Farm booth and pick up some of the finest yarns on the planet and make yourself some luxury!

 A pair I made last year.  Um...they are on my feet this very moment! 
In this photo, I had just turned the heel and picked up the stitches.

Wheely Wooly Farm has lots of wonderful yarns to choose from that would make perfect socks for a cozy feeling that cannot be bought in any store!  We have a range of natural Shetland colors as well as dyed colors from some of our white sheep just waiting for you.  Markets the rest of the season will be hit and miss for us, so if you want to be sure to know if we'll be there, email us towards the end of the week and we can let you know.

So why be cold and have frozen feet this winter when you can luxuriate in the natural warmth of Wheely Wooly Farm yarns?Your feet work hard for you all day long!  Don't leave them out in the cold!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Too much rain!

Well we're not flooded out, but definitely soggy.  Rain has been coming too frequently and the grass has too much water content.

With Labor Day comes no break for the barn spiders.  They sure are busy this time of year, and are spinning far more than I have time for!  lol  I guess they have more hands than I do.

This little buddy's for sale!  He's a Wooly Bear Grandson.

We've been having a ball working the sheep with Swifty lately.  For those of you new to our blog, Swifty is our awesome little Border Collie sheep dog.  He has a ton of natural talent and instinct, which frankly, has saved me time and time again!!  I've learned I can hold back and just let him go where he needs to go, cause he already sees and understands where he needs to position himself next.  His wait command even works despite his great excitement at getting to work sheep!  Before we head out the door, we tell him "Sheep?"  and he is R-E-A-D-Y!  Afterwards, he loves a refreshing shower from the hose.

Swifty...a super good boy!

Hope all of you had a great weekend here at the end of summer!  We here at the farm are looking forward to local apple cider and relief from the humidity.  What does a shepherd do when it's humid?  Why use it as an excuse to spin of course! lol

P.S.  We WILL be at the market Saturday morning unless it is rainy again, to be of service to our non-festival attending customers.  Wool see you there!