I'm still working on editing photos from my visit to True Colors Farm in Washington, ME last week. Brenda, the owner of the farm, was kind enough to look at some of my photos and tell me what breeds her sheep are so that I can do a couple breed profiles!
Today, I have a few random facts for you about Shetland Sheep!
These sheep are really, really old. Well, not the sheep in the above photo...I mean that the breed is old. :P Shetland Sheep have existed on the Shetland Islands for over 1000 years, thriving despite the harsh climate.
Shetland Sheep are on the smaller side, ranging from 75-125 pounds. They're described as calm, charming, easy to handle...and intelligent. Huh. I'm not sure I've ever heard of any sheep breed that was considered intelligent!
They come in a zillion colors and patterns (or 11 and 30, if you want to be precise). I was quite delighted by the list of patterns - it includes words like "Bersugget," "Bronget," "Flecket," "Gulgomet," and "Smirslet." I think that the above sheep may be "Katmoget" patterned - but do NOT hold me to that!!
Shetland Sheep are one of the only breeds that can produce a fleece so black that it doesn't need any additional dye.
Shetland wool is known for being particularly fine and soft - traditionally, the finest fibers were used to make a lace shawl that could be pulled through a ring - and the coarser fibers could be used for socks, outerwear, and tapestry yarns. This was a huge industry for the Shetland Islands at one point.
I thought this was interesting - Shetland Sheep are considered a "primitive" (unimproved) breed, and many will naturally lose their fleece each year. This can be hand collected when it's loose enough (called "rooing"). Or they can be shorn as you would do with other sheep.
So...there's a little bit about Shetland Sheep! I like the sound of them - maybe someday I'll have a few Shetlands on Butterscotch Farm! People would be welcome to come help me roo them. :P
My research sources: