After three years of working with the different breeds of sheep, I have learned that not all sheep from a particular breed are the same. Those wild ones that I had were not typical of the breed, and after speaking to other Shetland sheep owners and breeders, I decided to give the breed a second try.
The Fibre Works Farm in Alberta is a well known Shetland sheep farm with a shepherd who is not only knowledgeable about the breed, but who selects for very fine wool and good temperament. She did indeed have some sheep that she thought would suit my farm and me and offered them to me, plus a ram. I decided against the ram for now and instead chose to have the ewes bred to two different rams, that way, should they have ram lambs, they could breed that one which was not the mother.
After much discussion and many emails, the sheep were purchased and subsequently bred, or at least put with the rams. They were not tested to ensure that they were pregnant prior to leaving their farm. My friend made a trip to southern Alberta to visit with a friend of his and offered to pick the ewes up for me since my truck is still broken down. He kept them at his farm overnight and today, the two beautiful girls were brought to the Fat Ewe Farm. Indeed, they do have lovely fibre, both being single coated, or rather, not have the long hair coats, just the short one. Shetlands, like Icelandics, have dual coats of short wool and long wool, which can be separated or spun together. The wool of these two ewes is very fine and since they are single coated, there is no need to separate the wool fibres, long from short.
The ewes were put in the barn in a stall for a few days to allow them to get used to me and the other ewes, who all came in to check the newcomers over. They looked at the Shetlands and then went back to do what they do best, eat. The Shetlands were fed a little alfalfa and lots of hay and given a bucket of fresh water. I visited them four times during the day and gave them some treats that were sent along with the sheep, to help them feel comfortable with me and to not upset their systems with food they were not accustomed to. How thoughtful of the shepherd of farm from which they came.
My ultimate goal is to have small sheep, but I am not yet finished the experience of working with different breeds. There are still the Romneys to come to the farm and two Rambouillet lambs. Both Romney and Rambouillet are larger sheep and unless they are particularly easy to handle and friendly, they likely will not stay forever. The Old English Southdown Babydoll sheep are my absolute favourites. They are born friendly and even the crossbred ones seem to have the friendly gene. It will be interesting to think about the little Shetland lambs that will be born in May.
Welcome to the Fat Ewe Farm Kaon and Obe. Obe is the black one and Kobe is the beige and striped one. Their colours and patterns have real Shetland wool names, which have escaped me at this time, but I will post about them again, I am sure. I am so pleased with Fibre Works Farm and the ewes. Thank ewe so much!