Friday, November 7, 2008

And suddenly, there were sheep

Well, I suppose it wasn't that sudden. We researched them quite diligently before we bought them. But here they are, 3 Icelandic sheep. Quite a delightful little herd.
Unlike other sheep breeds, Icelandics can be shorn twice a year - in March and September. These were not shorn in September so we will need to shear them in March for the first time, since it is now too cold in Iowa to shear them. In fact, we had our first snow today. Ick. Another interesting thing about Icelandic ewes is that they are great for milking. Sheep's milk cheese is quite a delicacy so we look forward to trying our hand at that!

The ram's name is Blizzard. He has quite magnificent horns. I learned that sometimes the horns can get too close to their skull and cause problems. It's possible that someday the vet may need to either remove part of them or file them down in order to prevent any such problems. Blizzard is quite approachable and likes have to have his head rubbed. He is very protective of his ladies!

The first ewe's name is Bianca. She will eat out of my hand but doesn't want to be touched. She will, I hope, become more accustomed to me with time. You might notice that their fleece is quite long and somewhat straighter than other sheep. Their fleece has two "parts" to it. The outer part is longer and straighter and it's called the "tog" while the underneath part is more curly and crimed, and it's called the "thel." Both parts are apparently of interest to spinners and weavers and other fiber artists, but they have different qualities.

The second ewe's name is Flurry. She is very skittish indeed. In fact, I refer to her as the Flying Sheep. She has achieved incredible air space under her when escaping human attention. For example, she will go flying over the feed manger or even over the goats. I do believe she has attained approximately 5 foot high jumps. Too bad there are no Sheep Olympics.
So far they are all doing well on our farm. The ram likes to herd the goats and llamas out of the way. We plan to build a second barn so that they will have their own space, since they don't seem to be too keen on sharing. Stay tuned for their further adventures!

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