Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who am I kidding?

I have been struggling,  Struggling with what you ask?  Yes, I've got a moral dilemma.....Should I shamelessly brag about how much fun it was to watch a great young man show my sheep?  Should I go ahead and share with my blogging pals?  HMMMM...  Ok, ok I'm weak, I have to tell you. Our county fair was one of the most positive show ring experiences that I've seen in a while.  They had a great judge for the kids, I didn't always agree with his placings, but he put a supreme effort into making sure the kids went away with a positive experience and I thought that took a fair amount of skill for anyone.  Great exhibitors, great spectators and a great show committee, it just doesn't get a lot better than that.
At one point, when Clayton (the young man taking my sheep as his 4-H project) got 2nd place in showmanship, he and I were both crying.  This was Clayton's first year with sheep, so the 2nd place had a lot of meaning.  I told him that the 3 blues and the red that he received had so much meaning to me because I had just lost Abby, her mom, 7 days prior to that show.  His response was to smile, give me a big hug and then he looked down at his plaque and ribbon and said, "I want you to have these".  I'm a pretty tough  gal, but that was my undoing, I was crying like a baby in front of the whole sheep barn. (I'll give you a second to stop snickering at me).........
I explained to Clayton that the plaque belonged to him, that he had earned it and all I really wanted was a picture of him, his plaque and his million dollar smile for my wall.  He spent a lot of hours working with those sheep and he even came out to help vaccinate & worm sheep, and helped with baling hay on another occasion   Are we going to do it again next year???  HECK YA!  (big grin)
Clayton and Alabama in Beginner Showmanship

Clayton and Cadillac in the ram class

Clayton and Alabama after Showmanship class

Cadillac, Alabama and Clayton with his plague

Did I mention how much fun I had?  I did?  Sorry, but it was a lot of fun and reminded me of why I loved 4-H so much when I was a kid.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I'd like to clear up some misunderstandings........I do NOT have a vendetta against double coated Shetland breeders, never have, and I've ignored the fact that there has been one or two people that seem to think it necessary to constantly stir up things by insinuating that is the case with those of us that choose to breed single coat Shetlands.  I have a couple double coats in my flock and they certainly have traits that I value and want to preserve, much the same as my single coat Shetlands. I think if anyone spent any time discussing Shetland sheep with me, they find that I'm far more inclusive than they imagined or where led to believe.  If they fit the Standard, then they are Shetland sheep.

I have no intention of using my blog to bash NASSA board members, or attack individual breeders or their sheep, that is not what we should be doing to each other.  I have met some of the most wonderful people since I started raising Shetland sheep and if I don't agree with every view someone has, then big deal......I certainly don't agree with everything my husband, son, or parents say, and I certainly don't stop caring about them just because we don't agree.  The same is true here.  Disagreements are fine, and most of the time, they are healthy, especially if the individuals treat one another with respect.

My real reason for being so vocal the last several months has nothing to do with fleece length, it has to do with what is fair and what is following the rules of our organization.   I don't like conflict, but I also think that we all need to speak up when we feel something is unjust or if we strongly disagree, we need to be able to have our voices heard.  The only other issue I've ever had is the secrecy and silence that surrounds board proceedings.  I'm not saying it's the fault of any one person, I'm only saying that I think that more transparency would inspire more trust.

I had an idea to have historical information available to the membership in a central location, that's why I joined the Education Committee.  I'd like to see that project move forward with verified input from both sides of the debate.  Facts are facts, and I think we are intelligent enough to sort out fact from here-say and fiction.  I didn't have any trouble making a decision once I had the information in front of me, and I continue to dig and read everything that is brought to my attention, I am going to assume that everyone would like to have the right to decide that for themselves.

If you have verified information, get it out there.  Put links and references on the assorted Shetland chat groups, I'd love to read it.  There is no nastiness intended in this statement, I truly would like to see what is out there.  I have a hard time believing that either group is so rigid that they wouldn't work to find something that they could agree upon, there has got to be some common ground someplace.   And at least a starting point.

Sometimes it's easy to be less cordial when you are behind a computer screen, but read what you write, and it seems offensive or "in your face", maybe it needs a rewrite.

Just a few things that are weighing on my mind today.......

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Posts that are worth reading

There is some great information in Theres's latest post.......and you can find it here: Theresa's blog post

Research, read, dig and read some more.  Have fun with it, I sure do.

Stay cool everyone, it's a scorcher out there.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life is a circle

Abby was the first lamb ever born on our property, so she is special.  She was born on the top of the hill to my first Shetland ewe.  The past two years I had made the decision to NOT breed her any longer, but last year Bug had ideas of his own, she had a lamb this spring, which is the sweetest ewe lamb we've ever had on our place.  So much so that she's become the official greeter to everyone that visits.  Abby was never an overly friendly sheep, and she certainly wasn't my ideal Shetland, but you could never fault her mothering ability, she was 100% dedicated to her lambs, and she had a special place in my heart because of it.  
Now I get to the not so nice part of this story...........
We came home last Sunday afternoon, and Abby appeared to be staggering, we quickly caught her and put her in a pen under a shade tree and I got electrolytes into her.  She had a good appetite, no fever, no signs of distress except for the inability to keep her balance, so we left her with some good hay, a few supplements and checked on her in about an hour, no improvement, so more electrolytes.   Over the next few days, she showed no improvement, one person suggested that she might have had a stroke, which made sense, another person suggested that meningeal worms may be the problem, so I dosed her with Ivemec.  No improvement.   
Time to call the vet....she was examined and it was determined that the issue was quite possibly a stroke.  Everything thing about her was normal, no temp, no sign of worms, good appetite, just instability on one side. I made the tough decision along with my vet's recommendation and had her put down.... with her head in my lap, she slipped away peacefully.  As much as I hated the thought of it, I had the vet do a necropsy and will have the results in about a week.  It's important to me that I know why I lose a sheep, it's important to my flock and all the people that ever buy any sheep from me.  Time and again I see Shetland breeders making decisions that are not fun, because they feel a sense of responsibility to other breeders and their own sheep.  It warms my heart to see how much care and integrity I see in the Shetland sheep community.  

Being a pet and livestock owner comes with a responsibility, and it's a responsibility that I take very seriously.    I believe you should treat all living things with respect and kindness and do the right thing when the time comes to end their suffering.  
Abby will forever rest on the top of the hill where she was born.  Her 2011 lamb, Alabama, will continue to put smiles on the faces of our visitors, and mine as well.  I guess she was accidentally given to me so that I could be reminded of why I fell in love with Shetland sheep.  
Abby had the longest fleece of any sheep I've ever owned.....she also had the most wool on her poll and cheeks of any sheep I've ever owned.  I love wooly cheeks.....
This is a picture of her as a 2 yr old.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Upcoming Wi Sheep & Wool Festival MSSBA schedule of events

Thursday Afternoon
Sheep check-in


9-11am Judge's training seminar (Arena)  **bring a pen or pencil
1-3 pm ram/ewe inspections (Arena)  **bring a pen or pencil 
All Day-Sheep Check-in (Sheep Bldg)
Fleece check-in
Skein Check-in
5-6pm Pizza party (Arena)
6-7pm MSSBA AGM (Bleachers of sheep building)

Saturday -

Morning Sheep check-in
9am Shetland Fleece Show.....Judge Kate Sharp in the Exhibition Hall
12pm Shetland Sheep Show (Sheep Barn)
9-4 Silent Auction (Sheep Barn) Winners announced at 4pm

 6pm -South Of the Sheep barn POT LUCK - all NASSA/MSSBA Members& Shetland Sheep Lovers invited

Sunday –

10-12pm Kate Sharp presentation on Shetlands in the UK South end of East Exhibition hall across from the Sheep barn Free to the public.
12-2 pm Handy Shepherds presentations
1pm Skein competition
1pm Handmade  ( Note that this  will include all handmade items woven, felted etc,) competition Goat Barn
Farm Displays all day- Goat Barn

All weekend there are other activities that would interest Shetland sheep owners  There are classes for shepherds, Classes and competitions for youth, classes for knitters and spinners, There is also a Championship competition that the Champions of the Shetland show our invited to compete against other breed winners at WSWF.  Check out the website for all that is available. At

I hope to see all of you there.......

Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....