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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

More of the view from the farm!

Would you find this anywhere else? lol Probably not!
Now you know what us shepherds see everyday...

Update on the yarns...Penny had a sensational week last week, selling out after several different customers picked her yarn out of the rows and rows of pretty colors!  That has never happened before, and we are truly amazed by how that went!  We also put several skeins of Beatrice out last week and she too sold fast, so we are hoping to have more on the table soon!  Awaiting labels are Beatrice's Violets plus Orange, as well as ewe Poppy's Buttercream and a lovely Lake Michigan type green from Minty.  New needle colors have been added, and we are working on new displays, so come on by to check out what's new, as things are changing every week!

Tonight, the shepherdess was soaking in the beauty of the evening, for something special happened.  Do you ever have a moment where something everyday just seems so beautiful for some reason?  We have a lot of those moments here, but tonight, one happened that will forever be in our minds.  As the sun was moving low in the sky, we let the horses out for an evening gallop.  (There are two horses living on Wheely Wooly Farm...Carumba the whinnying pretty girl, and Calipso...arguably the cutest pony in the whole wide world.)  As the horses flew out around a fence and headed for their favorite galloping space, their hooves beat a lovely sound on the ground.  Calipso, who has white socks on all four legs, was galloping the most beautiful little dressage gallop, all centered and balanced, head perfectly placed.  He flew across air, light, effortless, and glowing from the angled rays of the sun, with his white socks flashing in the prettiest way!  His long mane gracefully flew back and he seemed so free, so happy!!  We all stopped what we were doing and just watched, speechless.  Time seemed to stop for a bit as he galloped to the end of the pasture, turned, and galloped back, then turned and galloped some more.  The sound of his hooves perfect cadence, his body light, his socks so flashy!  When he finally settled into some grazing and a good roll, kicking his hooves high above his body, we cracked up at his pure delight in the evening!  The amazing thing is...he's 30 years old and an old man!  He has no teeth left at the end of his mouth with which to pull off grass anymore.  He limps from time to time, stiff from age.  Yet, on such a beautiful night, he got to gallop long and free.  Truly beautiful, a moment passed that will never be forgotten.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The View From Here...

This is the shepherd's view!
Sheep, sheepdogs, grass...a wonderful way of life!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A beautiful scarf to make!

100% Wheelspun Yarn Scarf by Wheely Wooly Farm
*Model is wearing Glacier*

Complicated patterns can make nearly any yarn look good, but simple patterns need really good yarn to look right.  With a mere four ounces of 100% Wheelspun Yarn, you can make this incredibly easy scarf and have something that when finished, will bring you compliments for years to come!  If you are looking for an easy summer project to relax your mind, head over to our website for the FREE pattern, then browse our Farm Shop to pick from hundreds of skeins in cheerful dyed or natural colors.  Also, check out our Size 13 needles in many pretty colors just perfect for making this wonderful scarf!  Make one for yourself and discover the difference of high quality yarns, then make them for your friends and family (don't forget the guys!) in their favorite colors!  A really good yarn with a really easy pattern...what could be better than that?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wooly Bear

Puts my heart in my throat.

You're looking at an animal that while not perfect, is one of the finest on the planet.  This is Wooly Bear, our foundation ram.  This animal gives our farm a tremendous amount of overwhelming feelings...can't actually sum it all up with words!!!  Notice his perfect gorgeous horns?  This picture was taken as a four year old by the way.  Gentle, powerful, super soft, incredibly smart, amazing color, unbelievably hardy, and didn't ever miss ONE ewe put in with him, he has sired many, many lambs, an amazing soul.  A Grand Champion, his yarns have won us blue ribbons, too!  Pure quality top to bottom through and through.  It's what you'll find on Wheely Wooly Farm.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When it gets hot & humid...

...it's a good time for zzzzzzzz!
Wish we could!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Aquamarine Beautiful!

Another NEW color! Posie's Aquamarine!

Wheely Wooly Farm has a color for just about anyone!  With hundreds of skeins to choose from and a wide variety of colors, everyone is sure to find something that pleases!  Last week, we brought Sea Glass to the market for the first time, this week, Posie's Aquamarine!  What a lovely shade for summer knitting or crocheting, indeed.  Posie is a Claire lamb, and is a very popular seller.  

Also coming is more Pink Poodle, which sold out awhile back but is now available again.  See you at the market!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jacketing Sheep

Wheely Wooly Farm proudly does NOT jacket sheep.  Why?
1. Sheep safety!!  You won't hear about the sheep that become entangled, trapped, injured or die from coats, because they are not nice things to hear.  Some shepherds have never have this happen, some do.  It does happen.  It won't happen here.
2.  Jacketed sheep drive up the price of wool for knitters/crocheters.  To properly fit a coat on a good wool producing sheep requires two to three changes of coat per clip (year).  Each change of coat is added labor.  Each time a new coat is put on, it has been washed in a washing machine. That means there are two to three, or more, coats PER sheep, at a cost of usually around $20. PER coat.    With the public being asked to conserve water usage in many areas as well as invest in water conserving appliances and fixtures, Wheely Wooly Farm cannot justify using valuable water for washing large pieces of greasy fabric from dozens or hundreds of sheep, two or three times a year.
3. Coats take wear and tear.  They are torn on fences, feeders, hooves, etc. and need repair (either hand sewing, patches, or heavy duty sewing machines and thread).  This takes labor.  Labor costs money.  The price of yarn/fiber goes up, and not for quality, but for work involved.
4.  The coats themselves cost money.  The labor to put them on, take them off, and keep them washed drives up prices.  And yet, you can still get inferior quality in wool.  Coats mat fibers.  Sheep can get chaffing around necklines or inner rear leg straps. Coats create dark, moist environments perfect for unwanted creatures to take up residence (some shepherds deal with this by using more chemicals...more labor and $).  Bits of hay still manage to wiggle under the fabric and/or thru holes.  Jackets do not guarantee perfect, beautiful fiber, but they do guarantee increased costs that get passed on to the yarn buyers or spinners.

Our farm yarns have bits of grass/hay in them.  Grass is not dangerous to either sheep, or people.  There are far worse things we are all exposed to in our environments that are far more dangerous.  You may or may not notice little bits falling out of the yarn from time to time.  We are proud of this!  We feel it is a measure of our efforts to bring you beautiful wool from sheep that have been raised as close to nature as you can get in our modern world!  Our prices are held down (which has upset some people), because we choose certain management options to raise high quality wool without coats. In our current falling economy, keeping costs down while producing high quality has been highly appreciated!  This has allowed people who are taking pay cuts, job losses, cut hours and more, to continue enjoying 100% Wheelspun Yarns from our farm, while the wealthy continue to support our management style that produces high quality, comfortable, responsive yarns.  What do we do?
1.  We do not feed hay in feeders.  Elevated hay is a huge source of mess in fleeces!  Sheep also rub their necks on the feeders, causing further loss of the best part of the fleece.  Instead, we keep our sheep moving, and feed off the cleanest ground we can find, using the spoke method.  Our parasite load has been highly manageable over nearly a decade of time, so we know this works!
2.  We do not shear all on one day in early spring.  Instead, we shear individual sheep when the fleece is at it's best for the spinning, at a time when it is best for the sheep.  This is way out of wack of how most flocks have been run here in the U.S., but is exceedingly common in areas overseas, where ALL of our sheep breeds have come from.
3.  We shear after rain.  Rainwater is heaven for fleeces!!  It is soft, and does an outstanding job of cleaning fleece!!    Sheep shake, causing bits of seeds or grass to fly out.  It's a self-cleaning mechanism, born out of nature.  Sheep prefer to be clean, and have fluffy fleeces.  They will keep their fleeces that way if given the right environment.  When you hear that farmers are so keen on weather, it's because how the weather goes dictates how farming goes!  Rain-cleaned fleeces are pure joy to shear, require very little water for washing afterwards, and are a dream to spin!  This translates into gorgeous yarns!
4.  Wheely Wooly Farm does not expect to get a top of the cake, gorgeous fleece off EVERY sheep, EVERY year.  This is unrealistic in sheep management.  Instead, we allow the sheep to live a natural life.  For example, if a ewe has lambs, we may or may not shear her before lambing, depending on several circumstances.  If it's best to leave her fleece with her, we will, knowing lambs will LOVE nesting on her back in the warm wool.

  Lamb contentment comes first here!  When the time is right later, we will shear the fleece off and compost it (yes, sheep's wool is 100% biodegradable).  The health and well-being of the ewe and her lambs comes first for us.  Despite this management style, we still produce many gorgeous, clean, silky fleeces for yarn!

We feel jacketing sheep increases danger to sheep, increases costs for consumers, and eliminates customers who'd also like to enjoy 100% Wheelspun Yarns straight from the farm.  The shepherds, sheep, and sheep dogs all work very hard to bring high quality yarns to knitters and crocheters.  Buyers of our yarns can rest assured that our farm practices sound management that has been proven over centuries of time, throughout the world.  And if a bit of grass lands on your knee while knitting...so what?  You can see that and know that someone cares.