01 Jul New Sheep at ifarm!
ifarm welcomed its first flock of sheep this week! They are Shetland sheep, all hailing from southern New Hampshire. Our black sheep, Chip, comes by way of Edencroft Farm, while the other three, Sean, Eli, and Franklin, were born at Painted Knoll Farm. Both locations are small family farms that specialize in breeding happy, healthy Shetlands for fiber production.
They have already settled right into their enclosure in and around the barn. Our little flock of Shetlands is the beginnings of our fiber program: We will be shearing them next Spring for our own fiber!
Shetland sheep are part of a group of breeds called “Unimproved” or “Primitive” sheep. They are called this (compared to “Improved” breeds) because they have not been bred for one trait, like wool production, to the detriment of other traits like parasite resistance. Primitive sheep are like heirloom vegetables, with roots going back hundreds or thousands of years. They were often left to fend for themselves for much of the year, creating hardy and intelligent animals that mostly take care of themselves, yet produce high quality fiber. Shetlands in particular make a fine under-wool that as soft as merino wool.
Chip, Sean, Eli and Franklin will be acclimatizing to ifarm over the next few months. Chip has weathered a few transitions already and is the most outgoing. The other three have not had as much human contact and are a little skittish. We will be doing socialization work with them as part of our new children’s program, Giddy Up and Grow, in partnership with Windrush Farm. The program mixes horseback riding and animal connection with gardening, reading and writing for youth ages 10-14.
More fiber-frolicking to come…