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.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Storm Blew in some FLUFF!

Surprise, surprise!!  There is never a dull moment on the farm!  Excitement is always just around the corner...always!  First, I'll tell you about our little chick you see here in the picture below.  Little chickie is a Wyandotte...either a boy or girl, as we ordered some of each...who was feeling a little under the weather.  So we set up a little Chickie Hospital in an ice cream pail and placed this little bird under a separate heat lamp from the others in hopes that, with extra care, it would recover.
 Little Chick doesn't want to stand up.
(By the way...check out our Dandelion Games Video...it's not a game!, on the bottom of the Farm Gallery page on our NEW website!  Click on the link to the right here on the blog to get to our website, then click on the chickens on the gallery page, all the way at the bottom.)

This little chick won't stand up.  It eats, has no other symptoms, drinks nicely, peeps happily, and all.  It just won't stand up.  That started a few days ago.  So every little while, I take it some water in it's doll tea set creamer.  You can't leave the water as the chick is too weak to drink on it's own from it.  See the little tea creamer in the picture below?  Cute.
 Well, then a big storm blew in.  After our flowering trees were dressed in all their finery in the warm, summer-like breezes of the last several days, the temperature dove down, the wind began to howl, and today, we had pelting rain.  The wind lashed at the windows and howled in the cracks!  Things thumped and banged.  No one wanted to go outside...not even the cats!!  So in came all the flowers...and yes, my peach tree!  I've dragged this peach tree in and out for nearly a month now!  On nice days, it's out.  On set-back days, it's in!  Today, it's in!

So everyone was content.  The cats were sleeping on the hay, the lambs were leaping, then napping in their pen.  The horses were dozing in their stalls. The peaches were growing unhindered on the tree.  The shepherds were hoping to be dozing, too!  But then, we realized that the mamma goose who had a gosling yesterday, now had 5!  She's a very good mother and hisses intensely at you if you get within 50 feet of her.  But we have a racoon lurking about lately, and the goslings were not safe, even with her!  So we made the hard decision to take the goslings up to the house to a brooder.  She let me take them because she likes me.  Afterall, I raised her from a baby gosling, too.  I took the little fluff balls, and I mean, they are FLUFFY up to the house in a huge pail with it's lid on.  I had some nice hay in the bottom that was familiar to them, then I put the lid on loosely so air could get in, but no rain, and quickly pressed thru the rain and wind up to the farmhouse.  Into the makeshift brooder they went!  The heat lamp was already warm for the chick, and the chick was elated to have new buddies voices nearby!

So here are the just dry, brand new, super cute and outstandingly fluffy little balls we brought in on the wind!  First, they had to learn how to drink.  :)  Then, they had to find the food.  :)  Then, they had to figure out how those awkwardly huge feet work!  Oh, they are so cute!  They make cute little happy noises, and they love their warm brooder.  They will be safe here for a day or so, until they are eating good and the bad weather passes.  Then, they can go into a larger brooder with a feeder all their own.

Meanwhile, I ran out to check on Momma Goose.  She's grateful!  She was standing at the feeder, stuffing herself.  Hatching out all those goslings is hard work and stressful.  She was glad to do it, and did a great job!  Now, some Mom time.  Later still, she was sound asleep with her head under her wing.  Just what she needed!  I don't think she minded I took the goslings at all.

So with that, another exciting day on the farm is winding down, and the back porch of the farmhouse is stuffed to the gills with spring...flowers on the freezer, flowers all across the window sill, flower pots on the floor, geraniums on the freezers, and a beauty of a pepper on a tool box, plus, one happily peeping yellow chick, and five REALLY FLUFFY balls!  Oh, and one peach tree!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Knitted Wraps

Isn't this a gorgeous knitted wrap?  It's called the Daffodil Wrap as the main body is knitted in a soft daffodil yellow, with a pink-tangerine wide band and edged in a lovely creamy white, all to mimic those lovely heralds of spring we so look forward to seeing!

This would be so lovely to wear on a summer trip to the beach, or to snuggle up while sipping coffee outside while watching sunrises, or even for sunset walks!  So pretty with dresses or jeans, this anytime, anywhere wrap can go casual or fancy!  Fits perfectly into this year's fashion forecasts, although things like this never really go out of style, right?

 Made entirely of Wheely Wooly Farm's Wheelspun Yarns, you can find this wrap and others to purchase in our NEW secure online Farm Shop!  Head on over to our NEW website for more information and links to our shop.

Click here to go to the website https://www.wheelywoolyfarm.com


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An Announcement!

New!

We here at Wheely Wooly Farm are pleased to announce the launch of our new website and secure online store!

We invite you to visit us at wheelywoolyfarm.com
where you'll find all the information you need on finding us at our summer farm market, with easy links to our new secure online store!

This is an exciting time as we are very pleased to bring you shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.A. OR pick up of your order at the farm market on Saturday mornings!  Yes, that's right.  You can now order your yarn, needles, and knitted items during the week, to ensure you can get what you like best, and we'll happily have it ready for you the next Saturday, available for you during the normal market hours of 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

And how exciting to announce that our website can be viewed on your mobile devices!  Now you can look us up and find us even if you are already out and about.  Show your friends pictures from the farm gallery, or get their advice on yarn gifts you are thinking of getting for someone you love.

Also new this year...we will be accepting Apple Pay and Android Pay!  What an easy way to make your purchases, especially on the go like at the farm market!  We also accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover cards as well.

With all these great changes, we hope to serve you better and make your shopping experiences more enriching, convenient, and simple!  As it is all so new, we may experience bumps along the way until we can get things fully up and running.  For example, the yarns are mostly available in the store, but the wraps, scarves, hats, gifts, patterns, and embroidery yarns will be available in the store sometime between now and the start of market, which is June 17, 2017.  Come back and visit the store often to see what's new, for we are sure you'll be delighted just to see!

So click on the link above, and welcome to the farm!


Get $5. OFF with online store purchases of $25. or more!
Offer valid one time only thru 7-1-17






Monday, May 8, 2017

On Pasture

Breathe deep!  Ahhh!  That spring pasture smells so fresh and nice!  Did you hear the meadowlark?  Oh...a wild turkey!  Hey!  The owl is hooting...now?

Hello again.  Welcome to the farm blog that takes you into modern sheep farming.  Sheep have been kept for more millennia than is hardly imaginable.  They used to roam in very large flocks over vast areas of land, while being watched over by boys and men.  Of course we cannot let them roam so much like that anymore (the sheep, silly).  Good thing they are content with just a little good grazing, a good afternoon napping spot, and good friends to hang out with (the sheep, the sheep silly!)

Well, boys and men are not much wanting to watch over vast flocks of sheep anymore.  So us shepherds must do something!  Surely there are great candidates for the job of staring down sweet sheep and getting them to go where they need to go, and quickly?  Every sheep farm seeks talent in the sheep department...someone who is smart, quick, has their ears on, and super responsive to orders...you know...a natural!  Someone who lives for the work day and night, who is always ready to get the job done!  Someone like...

You!

Swifty here....uh hum!  Please, please, please can I go put the sheep in now!  I can do it!  I'll do it for you!  Just say go!  Can I?  Now?  Yes?  Please?  Right now?  Go?  Now?  Please?

Shepherdess here...for those of you new to Wheely Wooly Farm, meet our sheep dog, Swifty.  He's one of those super lucky Border Collies to actually live on a real, live, active, working sheep farm!  His eyes tell you how much he loves his work, and what a natural he is!  

 His ears are always tuned in...always on the sheep.
One ear up!  That's my boy!

The grass here on the farm is getting long and ready for grazing.  The problem is, the sheep have been off grass since last October.  They've been eating dried grass, or hay, for seven months.  If you put sheep straight out on grass right out of winter quarters, they will die.  They need time to adjust their body chemistry to the changes in feed.  Ever go to a restaurant to eat a totally new kind of food and get a super bad stomach ache?  Well, it's sort of like that for sheep, but worse, as it can be deadly.  That's why sheep farms, and all owners of livestock know to get their animals on grass slowly, in very short periods.  We have been getting the sheep on our pastures for over a week now.  Each day, they go out a little longer.  I move them fast from section to section to "vacuum" up the dandelions before they go to seed.  Excellent nutrition after a long winter, and don't they know it!!  So while they graze, Swifty here has to wait patiently.  He sits with me and we listen to the songbirds, watch the grasses blow in the wind, and giggle at the sheep leaping and running sideways in delight at the fresh spring air.  Well, I giggle, Swifty gets squirmy to get workin!
What a good boy!  What a good day!  What a good life!

On pasture.  It's the place to be!  If you don't have a pasture to set your lawn chair up in, or a sheep dog to keep your work going, how about setting up in your back yard and imagining?  Or, how about a nice walk in a green space...while imaging what sheep might have roamed there before people came?  Listen for songbirds.  Can you identify them by name?  

Back in the farmhouse, Posie's yarn is coming off the wheel and Peppermint's is started!  Peppermint is Minty's little lamb from last year, one of twins and so far, her fleece is just as I'd hoped!  Stay tuned for updates and announcements to come.  We've made some changes this year to better serve you!  Can you believe summer farm market season is just weeks away?!?  We can't!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Mud!


Gloppy, sloppy mud!

The farm is unusually soggy right now.  The sheep have been out to graze just a little so far this spring because everything is soggy, squishy wet.  So this year, we are doing things a little different.  Our lambs are growing really fast, taking a lot out of their mothers, so we are doing an early wean this year.  The timing is perfect!  The lambs are huge, eating ample feed, and in a place they love and is familiar.  The moms were taken out of the lamb pen and given a resting space right next to their lambs.  They are so relieved to get some rest!  You know the timing is good when the lambs delight in the extra room to run!  Cabot expressed his feelings by leaping higher than ever and tearing around...obviously feeling fantastical at the idea of the unobstructed space opened up.

So at this time, we are doing frequent barn checks on the lambs, making sure everyone stays where we last put them (with hammer and nails handy for putting fence boards back on!), and getting lots of other work done in between.  Summer farm market season is coming super fast!!!

Misty's lovely Country Apple Green Wrap being knitted on our Natural Needles
Watch for these exciting needles at the market this summer!

With all the wind, driving rain, and cold temps we've had, our wraps are the perfect thing to warm you up when you need a little something around your shoulders.  These versatile wraps can be easily put on or taken off throughout the day as you move through all the things you need to do in a day.  Less active but cool?  Wrap one of these around your shoulders and feel real comfort.  Feeling warmer when more active?  Lay across a chair for a very pretty and cheerful sight...ready for use at a moment's notice!   

Watch for more details on these Wheely Wooly Farm wraps coming real soon!  And we will have exciting announcements coming equally soon so stay tuned!

PS...Lil' Rainbow's yarn is finished and ready for sale, and now Posie's fleece is being spun.  I think this is the nicest fleece she's ever provided us!  It's positively dreamy to spin!  Next after Posie is Peppermint...one of Minty's lambs.  She just gave us her first clip and I can't WAIT to spin it next!

If you are new to the farm's blog, welcome!  We are a small sheep farm in the USA just west of the Great Lakes.  The flock of sheep maintained here consists in part of genuine Shetland sheep, as well as other breeds for a variety of fibers that keeps the shepherdess and Lead Spinner quite busy.  Our yarns and knitted garments have traveled to countries around the globe with customers who find us.  From multiple US states to Canada, England, Scotland, Japan, Israel, India, and others, our products have been carried on the global winds indeed!  We hope you enjoy learning about the workings of daily life here on the farm, and come back to visit us again soon! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lambs...what?! It's March already???

What?!  Wait a minute...it's MARCH already! lol  Boy, time sure flies around here!  It's easy to see why we lose track of time a bit around this busy sheep farm...just look at these cuties to the left!  Lambing season arrived here on Wheely Wooly Farm and has been completed as of last Saturday.  The barn is now full of popcorn!  The hard winter days of cold and blowing snow have been replaced by singing birds, sunshine, and leaping lambs.

To the left here is Chipping (in the background).  Yes, Chipping.  His ears are very, very, very large!  The moment he was born, his ears went up and haven't come back down since!!  He's a bright little fella with just the conformation we were aiming for.  It doesn't always go that way, so lucky us this year!  His name is Chipping...old English for market.  Yes...I knowIknow....it has other meanings but who cares.  He's my sheep! :)  It's perfect for him because his personality and vigor match his upright ears, a very chipper little guy.

In front of him is Blackberry.  She's super soft and on a tear around the pen!  Her ears are higher now, too.  Both of these lambs are out of Cardigan, the first born out of Claire last year.  Cardigan has grown into a gorgeous ram with his mother's lovely fleece and super nice temperament.  So we held him over to see what he could produce.  This ram is what we've called a "STAR" sheep on our farm, a label we give to any sheep that resists parasites on their own, one that doesn't need drenching with dewormers.  Cardigan has that vigor.  Let's hope he's able to pass some of that on to his lambs!  Time will tell.

So with lambing season complete and the barn chores so much fun that it takes WAY longer to get them done (you know, all the awwww's and giggles, and 'so cute's and all), we've progressed to shearing.  (Actually, we were shearing some before lambs when the weather was good.)  Some fleeces are already washed and ready for the wheel.  In organizing the wool storage area, I discovered a forgotten Lil' Rainbow fleece!  That was exciting!  Her fleeces spin up easy and are a real joy to work with, so I'll actually have more Rainbow fleece available.  It's on the wheel now and almost finished.

Today I'll end with something I made last summer.  It's a dish towel embroidered in purple yarn for our ewe Violet.  She had twins last year, in between barn checks.  When I next checked on the moms, there she was, with two adorable, bright little lambs all boingy, with full tummies, and good to go next to her!  Don't know how she did that so fast, but it was a moment we'll never forget, so we stitched it on a towel.  Problem is, it's so cute, I can't bear to use it!  It hangs in a nice place in the farm kitchen where we can see it every day and remember how cute they all were.

THAT is sheep fever, folks! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Little Bit of Honey

This is my dear Honey.  Yes, she is a dear!  Today I had a most pleasant surprise email from a customer.  It was very moving for me, for this wonderful customer, Liz, had purchased some Wheely Wooly Farm yarn on two separate occasions and with her amazing talent, made a very special shawl, then wrote to tell us about it, and show us lovely pictures!  It made my day!  The shawl is absolutely gorgeous!

Beautiful Honey
Purebred Shetland Ewe

Honey is as sweet as honey, and in fact was given that name by my DH, who adored her.  Honey loves people, and will come to you asking for chin scratches and sweet nothings any time you might be available!  She's the color of honey on the tips of her wool, with this lovely creaminess to light brown mid-lock.   Her fiber is a dream to spin and she gave us a lamb, whom we named Hap.  Haps are the historic names of everyday working shawls in the Shetland Islands, shawls you really live with, that you wear all day, that have to survive all that Shetland women did in a typical day 100 years ago.  
 Hap (left) and Honey, who'd been sheared.
Notice her creamy white wool when sheared?
Wheely Wooly Farm sheep often change color when sheared...total fun!

 A shawl I made with Honey's yarn, with more mistakes than I care to admit.
Tip of the day...don't knit lace  a) with no markers cause you can't wait til you get home, b) children around that want you to watch a new thing they're doing and c) on a day you feel so invincible that you think a life line is completely unnecessary!! lol

 Baby Misty!  Taken when she was a wee lamb.
Today, Misty towers over nearly everyone else.
And watch out you don't trip over her...she's VERY friendly!

Misty is not a Shetland, but rather a crossbred of guessable breeding (purchased off farm).  In fact, I have her latest fleece on the wheel now, being spun.  We'll be bringing more of Pink Poodle, Glacier, and other popular colors to market soon!  I also just spun through Violet and Minty (and Penny!  Watch for lovely Penny's yarn, new!).  Minty is Scrambler's mother.  There are a few skeins of Scrambler left to purchase as well.

Honey's natural colored fleece.  Makes a spinner's hands just want to get spinning!

Liz's shawl has Honey's yarn for the main part, then trimmed with Misty's lovely Pink Poodle yarn.  The two colors are gorgeous together, for Shetland sheep natural colors have an unusual quality about them in that they pair exceptionally well with dyed colors.  Liz's talent really shines in the making of this shawl in how she paired the colors, and I hope she wears it at the market some day for all to see!  I'm guessing it will be a show stopper and she'll get a lot of compliments!

You can see more of Liz's work, her review of Wheely Wooly Farm yarn, and read more of her ambitions by clicking on the link at the right side of our blog.  Look for her Swatch Stories to read more of small farm yarn and the local movement!

Thank you Liz, and to all of our customers who've brought your projects back for us to see!  We appreciate you all and cannot wait for summer and the fun market brings in sharing projects and ideas!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Don't forget Valentine's Day!

Sweetie

Yep!  It's coming in less than a week!  Here on the farm, we feel a little of Valentine's Day everyday.  Sheep are really very sweet individuals, but this particular sheep is the sweetest living being I've ever met in my life.  Her name is Sweetie and on May 4th of this year, she'll be 10 years old already!!  We positively adore this girl!  She's a Shetland ewe who's given us many beautiful babies, such as Lil' Pumpkin,  Twilight, Pansy, and that beautiful ram, Starlight.  Last spring, she gave us Nasturtium, the little ewe with socks.  Twilight was especially memorable in that he went to school with us to meet the kids and show them what woolly sheep are like.  Starlight's wool sold too fast, and there wasn't enough to go around!  It is amazing how time flies, so we decided not to breed Sweetie this year, even though she is in top health and still has all her teeth.  (Funny, the things shepherds get excited about! lol)

So are you ready for Valentine's Day?  This year, how 'bout remembering some of the Valentine's of years past.  What special memories come to mind?  When those things happened then, could you have imagined, looking back from today, how much they came to mean?  The day we bought Sweetie was very memorable, but who could have ever known what she would grow to mean to us today?  We are so thankful to have her and care for her!  She has changed our lives in countless ways, and her yarns have brought connections to humans all over the world.  Do you have any memories that have grown in importance through the years to something so much more today than when they were created?

Here's to a happy Valentine's Day to you all...and happy reminiscing!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Shetland Wool Socks

Greetings all!  Hope you are getting through this rather mild January and all your knitting projects!  It seems this month that our sock blogs are very popular.  Search back in our archives for blogs about socks.  Shetland sheep produce wonderful wool for socks!  If you haven't made any socks out of Shetland wool, try it!  The wool off our sheep has been a real pleasure to spin, knit, and wear.

One blog you can quickly find is from August 2012.  In it, I blogged about our ewe Lacey and her wool.  I still have those socks!  They went on to win us blue ribbons as somehow, I knit that one pair without one mistake, which is definitely not typical for me.  Socks are wonderful things in that you can make mistakes because they rarely interfere with the integrity of the socks, and if they are for yourself, you can decide if it's worth the time to rip them back...or not! lol

Anyhoo, when knitting for judging, perfect is best.  I had no idea if the judges would like my socks or not, but that's why you enter in the first place!  It's a great way to see how you are doing and get some feedback.

We hope you will take some time to either knit some socks for yourself and those you know, or learn how!  It is a great and handy skill, but I must warn you....that is if you have yet to learn how....that once you can do it, people will be pestering you for socks forever on!

Happy sock knitting everyone!

P.S.  Our other sheep also produce wool that is wonderful in socks.  We seek a certain quality of wool and if a sheep doesn't have that, we wouldn't own it!  It's hard to find good sock wool, but you can find it here on Wheely Wooly Farm.  You can either email us, or seek us out at the farm market come summer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!

 How 'bout some nice color to start off the new year?

Happy New Year everyone!  We hope you had a nice holiday break...knitting or crocheting we hope! lol  This year, we are skipping our typical annual new year's post as we sort of did that already a few posts back.  This has been the biggest year Wheely Wooly Farm has seen yet and we were quite delighted to collapse at the end and take a break!  

 Can I do that?
lol

Ok, we can't quite go that far in taking a break, as the sheep still need tending, chores still need doing, and we've got our work lined up and waiting.   In fact, we are behind on some things so we've decided, after hard thought, to delay returning to market until June.  Our inventory is very low and things need doing around the farm so it was decided that to be our best, we better take the time it takes to get things supplied well again.  

So this year, we've tried some new things, one of which is shearing more lambs in early fall.  Some of that fiber has already hit the sales table and is gone already, such as some of Peerielyn and Lil' Dipper, but Motif's yarn is finished, Tassel's yarn is nearly done, and Bobble is on the wheel right now.  Lincoln was sheared and will be soon spun, and others, so watch for these lovely fleeces come spring!  Speaking of Bobble, he's the little guy that nearly froze to death, and had to ride along in the truck to town one day...see a few posts back for his story.  Well Bobble's fiber is simple sensational!  It's being spun up quite finely and will be outstandingly suitable for very special lace.  His fiber is incredibly soft and fine, being lamb's wool and Shetland, and the most outstanding natural black you might ever find!  This hard to find and incredible yarn will be for sale separately, and there is very little to sell...and I won't have more!  Bobble, by the way, is spending his winter hanging out with BuzzBuzz...and what a pair they are!  Pure mischief.


 Very popular headbands designed and created by Wheely Wooly Farm...and sold out by September.

Other news to report from the year is that we had the opportunity to connect with some of our farm's "ancestors" this year, through a chance meeting.  Through this fortuitous meeting, we received some exciting documents on the beginnings of this farm and we are truly amazed at what we have learned!  After that day, we have taken time to learn more and what an amazing journey that has been! 

In October, we welcomed a new barn cat to the farm, except she's not in the barn yet! lol  She was obtained by calling a local program called the TNR Program, which stands for trap, neuter and release.  We'll write more about her in the months to come!  She's beautiful and unique so we can't wait to show you pictures of her!  Cats are required around here, and are very useful farm employees.  One morning last fall, I opened the curtains to find Paws (another barn kitty we have) high up in the willow tree, swatting at his tail hanging down behind and under him!  It became a morning of instant giggling...how often does one get to start the day like that?!? 

And this year, our products travelled farther and wider into the world that we could have ever imagined...going as far away as Israel, Qatar, Japan, and Africa, and more! 

There is so much more to 2016, but it's time to get going.  Thank you to all our wonderful customers and friends who make Wheely Wooly Farm such a fulfilling success!  Without you, we couldn't do it all!  We are working hard to bring you so much more great yarn and ideas for your projects, gifts and garments in 2017!  Happy New Year everyone and happy knitting!