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, 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

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 know...a natural!  Someone who lives for the work day and night, who is always ready to get the job done!  Someone like...


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!

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