Maybe my lack of updates can be explained by the fact that I've been reading a lot about sheep lately. I picked up Storey's Guide to Raising Sheep the other day, and it's surprisingly fun to read. Now that Len and I are living in Wisconsin, and having been encouraged by the fact that a woman I work with who's an artist on our X-Men game owns sheep, I plan to begin researching for My Long-Term Plan.
My Long-Term Plan will be something I can slowly work toward for that day when I decide I don't want to work in the game industry anymore (not that I'm considering that now) or want to retire and do something different. I've been knitting for nearly half my life and spinning for the last two or three years, and I keep moving closer and closer to wanting to be a shepherd myself and own the sheep I get my wool and yarn from. But I also want to take it one step further and turn my future hobby farm into a yarn shop in which I spin and sell the wool from the animals right out behind the shop. In my little dream, this would be the primary draw of the shop.
I figure that it's going to be at least 2-3 years before I can even think of buying a sheep. Len and I first need to buy the right place to do it, someplace with enough land for what we want to do that we can also live on. Fortunately, this area of the country is perfect. Len and I have been perusing the real estate listings and we constantly see 10-20+ acre plots with old farmhouses and barns on them. We've got some time to look (probably about a year) before we're ready to buy anything, which means we can take the time to look for something we really like.
So in the meantime I can research as much as possible before even looking at my first potential buy. My first choice in breeds -- until I research more -- is Shetland so far, assuming that their foraging abilities are suited to the types of pasture that can grow here in Wisconsin, and assuming that they're a breed I can get reasonably priced here. If not Shetland, I'd like to go with Bluefaced Leceisters or maybe Ramboulliet.
I've been on Yahoo's SpinList for a couple of years now, so I've been able to follow some of the discussions from the shepherds on the list when they talk about their own herds. I've also joined a shepherd's list, so hopefully that will help with research, too.
So while I read about sheep, I'm still spinning and washing fleece. In fact, I'm spending the day scouring the alpaca wool that our alpaca-owning friends Mary Ann and Joe sent me as I promised I'd card, spin, and knit it into something for her. So, back to scouring...