Thursday, November 14, 2013

Part 3-Vemetry Flock

I was so impressed by seeing a couple hundred moorit ewes moving in unison in this picturesque setting, that I was momentarily speechless.  For those that know me, that's a rare occurrence, so keep your snarky comments to a minimum, you know who you are....

The Vemetry flock was wonderful and Hamish Hunter, Vemetry's manager, could not have been nicer.  Hamish is the a 3rd generation crofter on this land and so he knows a thing or two about Shetland sheep.  He patiently answered all our questions while we picked his brain for little tidbits of information.  ( I loved his accent)  We spent a lot of time going through the rams, old and young and then the moorit ewe flock.  We didn't get our hands on any white purebred ewes because they spend their breeding life on an island and Hamish using his row boat to take rams over and back during tupping time.  Can you imagine having to load you ram in a row boat and take him to his ewes on an island?  Boggles the mind. 
Hamish and the mature rams. 

Their home

Hamish told us that the rams are ready for tupping when the skin turns very pink on the rams.  (didn't know that)

Nice crimp...dense fleece on this guy, we really had to pull hard to get it to part this much. 

Nice butts on these boys. 

I loved the length on their moorits

One of my favorite head styles

Young ram that had quite a bit of cheek and poll wool

This ram was (I think) 4 yrs. old.  Garrett might have to correct me, he remembers details like that so well.

Lovely spiral to this guys' horns

I love taking the group shots

Ok, so now I'm getting dangerously close to stalker type behavior with the pictures of the guys.

yep,,,,,,,stalker, totally

At least I wasn't handling all of them like someone else I know..........sheesh G, put the poor sheep back with his buddies and stop ooohing and ahhing

The moorit ewes heading back to the hills via the driveway

Hamish and his very kind wife treated us to tea, cookies, cakes, homemade soup and I was ready for a nap I was so content and relaxed.  But sleep wasn't on the itinerary just yet, so off we go to the next stop. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Part 2 Shetland Islands

As the sun rises over calmer seas, our ferry finally heads to the docks in the harbor at Lerwick.  I scrambled out of our torture chamber cabin and head for the deck at the back of the ship.  This is the view that was waiting for me..........

Getting closer

The first sign of a "no trees" landscape

They don't seem very upset after a night of high seas terror.

Isn't it beautiful? ............LAND!!!

We docked, got my sick hubby out of the cabin, and drove off the ferry.  Now to see some Shetland sheep and this beautiful island (s).

Castle ruins

Mike and Garrett on the docks

Sheep on Shetland----NOTE: I think it's important to mention here that not all sheep ON Shetland are purebred Shetland sheep.  There is a lot of cross breeding that is done in order for the crofters to be able to make a living by selling to the markets.  One crofter we spoke to told us he likes to cross a Cheviot ram to a Shetland ewe and then use the ewe from that crossing and breed to a Suffolk ram.  So the pictures that I've taken of the hill sheep can't be guaranteed to be purebred Shetlands.  The flocks we visited and photographed ARE purebred Shetlands, but I'll try to make sure to make that distinction in the comments of the photos. 

more Sheep on Shetland

Quaint little houses

Shetland hills and heather losing it's summer color

Shetland Ponies

 Stay tuned for the Vemetry flock........
Hamish Hunter manages over 600 sheep there and they have moorits and whites, plus a flock of crossbred sheep. 
Wouldn't you love to look out your window at this??!!! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Scotland, England and Shetland-Part 1

Warning..............picture heavy post.

My trip to the Shetland Islands, Scotland and England was Amazing!!!  We met so many wonderful people, most of them Shetland sheep breeders that drove us around, provided room and meals for us and shared their lovely sheep.  A heartfelt thank you goes to each of the people that were so generous and kind while we were there, we felt so welcome while visiting all of you.

Oct 7th we flew out of Chicago to London, changed planes and got to Edinburgh in the early afternoon, we were picked up by Kate Sharp and Alan Hill and then took a little ride around the city.  Had a really nice time meeting Ellen Bain and her husband, then got to see their nice flock of sheep.

Bains-lovely people-lovely sheep

We look a bit travel weary here.  lol

Some of the Bains' really nice Shetland ewes-I was so tired when we visited that I felt we didn't really get much of a chance to visit with these nice folks.  I really like that they've maintained a lot of wool on the poll and checks of their sheep.  Something I saw more of in the northern flocks than in the ones to the south.  The kat markings on their sheep are crisper and sharper than the ones I see in America too.  I feel in love with the kats in the UK. 

 After having a truly tasty meal at a nice Bistro, we got settled in our hotel for the night.   Being overly excited about the upcoming days, I slept very little, so lots of caffine, a nice breakfast and we were on our way to Kate's holding to meet with Suzanne Meikle, Susan Russel, Philip Cowen and his girlfriend, Amy.   After some tea and biscuits (turns out there's a LOT of tea and biscuits in the UK) we crammed our luggage into the vehicles and headed out to Aberdeen to board the ferry for Shetland!!! We had a lovely visit with Suzanne's flock and boy does she have some nice Shetland sheep and a lovely little place in the country to keep them.

Suzanne has moorits and whites and I'd take them home if I could get away with it. 

I wanted a close up on the head on some of her sheep.......very Shetlandy sheep.  (is that even a word?)

More of Suzanne's ewes

And yet more ewes....notice the great conformation on these gals. 

We noticed several fleece styles, but all of them were single coats that we saw, wether in England, Scotland or on the Islands.  Even the Foula didn't have noticeable double coats.  This style of fleece is referred to as Pearly in America. 

Look at this yummy stuff

Love the head on this gal.  Screams Shetland sheep to me. 

This young ram was one of my favorite faces, very unique.

Another of the younger rams

Look at those sharp katmoget badger faces!!! 

This old fella was impressive

ram lambs.....

more yumminess

part of our motley crew.....left to right: Mike in back, Susan, Alan, Kate, Amy and Philip

The ferry/ship ride.
I've never been on a ship or ferry, so when we drove the vehicles into the bottom of this ship, I was impressed.  There were semi trailers in there and quite a few of them to boot!!!

Driving into the ferry

Parked in the bottom of the ferry with semi trailers parked all around us and then passenger vehicles in front and behind us.  Garrett on the right, Philip and Amy on the left.

We got what we needed for the overnight voyage and headed to the decks above us to grab a bite to eat before we set sail.  We started getting a wee bit concerned when we heard that there were going to be gale force 10 winds that night, but one of the crew assured us we would be fine.  We'll call that an understatement, because it was NOT FINE.

This is the view from the inside of the ship just before we left the harbor. 

Stay tuned............will our unsuspecting sea goers make it safely to the Island?  Why do they have the tables and chairs tethered with cables to the floor of the dining area?  How far out of the water does a ship go before it slams back into the water?  That's right, I said SLAMS!!!!

Cheers all

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Government doing what it does.......Monroe, Brodhead & Green County..

 Monroe, Brodhead and Green County residents.

These numbers won't mean a thing to anyone that is outside of the Monroe or Green County area, but I felt that they should be shared.  The city and county have been throwing around the idea of shutting down the Green County Landfill for a little over 2 years now and if they do that, you can clearly see how much you'll be paying to dispose of things that you no longer want.  The numbers are so clearly in favor of keeping the landfill open that I can't believe there's even any debate about this.  The county has made it pretty clear they would like to see the landfill continue to be open, and I've been told by some county board members that the city won't accept any of the offers that are put before them to make this happen.   I think this is simply another power struggle that will put the tax payers in a bad situation if they can't find some common ground.  
Maybe it's time you ask your alder-person why this situation can't be resolved.  Why would I spend $25 to get rid of a tire when I could just as easily spend $6.75 to the landfill to do the same thing?  And this is just one example of the giant gap in pricing...........

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....