Sunday, January 11, 2009

More about Icelandic Sheep

Lisa, over at Laughing Orca Ranch, had a few questions about Icelandic sheep. Poor Lisa had a nasty accident and had to have knee surgery to repair her meniscus and ACL, so she's in excruciating pain and stuck in bed with a contraption that works her knee. It is the least I can do to post a little bit extra today to tell her more about my sheep, and hopefully take her mind off that pain.

Oreo says: Um, Claire, you are not a sheep. You really don't know the story. Just be quiet and let me do the talking. We're soooo interesting!

First, I'm going to tell you all about our fleece. We are "dual coated" sheep which means that our fleece has two parts. There is a longer outer coat that is called the "tog," which is a medium wool of about 27 micrometers in diameter. Then there is a finer inner coat that is called the "thel," and it is only about 20 micrometers in diameter. Usually, the thel is made into products that touch the skin because it is so soft and fine, whereas the tog is used for products like blankets. Of course, my fleece is very beautiful, but it was shorn more recently. So, here's a picture of Blizzard's fleece, close up, even though it's not as beautiful as mine. You can see the very long strands on the outside, and these are tog. Underneath that is the thel.

Kitkat says: Oh Oreo, shut up about being so beautiful. It's not a contest...

I'll tell you about the leadership gene. This is a very interesting characteristic in Icelandic sheep. Only a fairly small number of the sheep carry this gene. They tend to be more intelligent than the rest of the flock, and have leadership characteristics such as higher alertness levels than the others. They are known in Iceland for their uncanny ability to forecast changes in the weather, and have been known to lead their flock back to their barn when a snowstorm was coming, even when the shepherd doesn't know about the storm. They sometimes refuse to leave the barn with the flock when a major storm is imminent. They are called leadersheep. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. Not to say that I'm not intelligent. Quite the contrary, I'm brilliant!

Clover says: WAIT! I haven't said my part yet!

I need to tell you about yet another gene in Icelandics called the Thoka gene. It's responsible for multiple births, and can often result in frequent births of triplets. Did you know I had twins before? Oreo had triplets! Quads, quints, and even sextuplets have been known to occur as well. None of us girls plan on having sextuplets though. That would put Claire through the roof.

Gosh, I didn't know I had such talkative sheep! Can't get a word in edgewise! Well, Lisa -- here's hoping you learned something new, and that you get to visit with all your critters really soon. I can't imagine being stuck in bed and not being able to see them. Surely somebody could bring you your favorite chicken inside in a little basket, so you could stroke her feathers and feel connected with your farm.

Feel better soon!
xoxo from Clover, Kitkat and Oreo.


Wrensong Farm said...

Those were some interesting facts! They sound like great sheep (not to mention beautiful). Do you have to pay extra for one with leadership abilities? :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Thank you Clover, Kitkat and Oreo...and Claire, too.

I learned so much about Icelandic sheep tonight, I'm in awe!
As you know I only have two sheep, a Navajo Churro and a Karakul, of which I duly impressed with their history.
I love finding out more on another breeds of sheep, too. They go back so far in history. It's fascinating.

And thanks for showing such concern for me. I very much appreciate it. I don't know what I'd do without my favorite blogs to read and such special blog, friends, like you, that come visit me and give me such support.

Which is why I think you should check out my latest blog post. I think it will make you smile HUGE. It's just what you were wishing for me :D

HUGS to YOU, my friend,
~aka Rapunzle

Terri & Randy Carlson said...

Clover was born on our farm, I hope you enjoy her, she was a nice ewe! Terri