It was our intention to make a decision today. To decide which sheep would come live with us. I thought it would be easy. But let me tell you, when your faced with hundreds of the cute, fuzzy little buggers it's REAL hard to make a decision. We're lucky to have such a great breeder nearby to have such a wide selection, but jeez Louise how can I ever decide? They were all cute. And they all seemed friendly enough. Then there is the decision of do I want little lambs or yearlings? Or maybe a wether (castrated male) lamb? And then there were the different breeds. This breeder raises both Shetlands and Shetland crosses. Oh and let's not forget all the different colors of Shetlands and they are constantly moving!
So I only made part of a decision. I know I want Shetlands. They are a great primitive breed that has not been so "improved" that they've lost all their natural instincts. That means they are pretty hardy and easy to care for. They are small and have short tails that do not require docking. They are very good mothers. Shetland's produce a wide range of beautiful natural colored wool that is perfect for hand spinning. And the ewes don't have horns.
I don't plan to show the sheep anywhere other than on this blog, nor do I plan to breed them for sale. I don't need them to be registered. Pet quality sheep are just fine for my needs. Given all that I did decide I want this yearling in the middle of the picture below. She's petite for the Shetland scale. I'm short, I can relate, so I think we belong together.
But I also want a couple of lambs. This one is adorable but I'm pretty sure Theresa would have tackled me to the ground had I tried to take it. She's keeping this one for sure. Her spots make her quite valuable in a breeder's flock. I couldn't make up my mind on the others so we will wait until they are ready to be weaned from their mothers in June. That will give Theresa more time to evaluate who she wants to keep for showing and breeding and who she's willing to part with.
Theresa's daughter happened to be practicing for a shearing contest during our visit so we were able to get a first hand demonstration of the process. Shetlands actually shed their wool naturally which allows you to roo them (just pull the wool off by hand) but hand shearing them can speed the process up immensely. (Electrical shearing is obviously a better option if you have lots of sheep.) She also showed us how to trim their hooves. She certainly knew her way around the sheep, I'll bet she does well showing them in 4-H.
Before leaving we had to say hello to the fellas. They are quite handsome but we won't get getting any of these. I had a billy goat with horns when I was a kid. That's all the horn experience I need for one lifetime. If this sheep thing works out for us and we want little lambs of our own we'll be buying a pregnant ewe and or doing the rent-a-ram thing. Sorry buddy.
So now we just have to finish up getting ready for them. I put another coat of paint on the sheep shack. We just need to put some sort of latch on the doors to prop them open in the wind, build a hay feeder and put down some straw bedding and it's ready for occupants.
Waiting until June to bring them all home will work out to be just about perfect timing. That will give us a chance to reseed where the old burn and compost piles were. The old burn pile should make a nice mound for the lambs to play on don't you think? I can't wait!