The Sheep adorns the landscape rural
And is both singular and plural—
It gives grammarians the creeps
To hear one say, “A flock of sheeps.”
Ellis Parker Butler (1869-1937) – The Sheep
The Shetland is a small fine-boned British sheep, belonging to the Northern Short-tailed group that has evolved in relative isolation in the Shetland Islands since the late 8th century.
Rams usually weigh 90 to 125 pounds and ewes about 75 to 100 pounds. Rams usually have beautiful spiral horns, whereas the ewes are typically polled (without horns). Unlike other breeds, their naturally short, fluke-shaped tails do not require docking.
While Shetlands appear to be small, delicate animals, they are not only intelligent, but well muscled, nimble and quick, and possess great strength. They are extremely hardy and adaptable. Their natural hardiness is virtually unknown in modern sheep breeds, making them well suited to less than ideal conditions. Many a time in winter we will find the sheep outside of their shelters, sometimes covered in several inches of snow…Most respond well to attention and some even wag their tails when petted!
Shetlands survived for centuries under harsh conditions and on a meager diet, although they do very well under less rigorous conditions. Having retained many of their primitive survival instincts, they are easier to care for than many of today’s commercial breeds.
Shetland wool comes in one of the widest ranges of colors of any breed. Besides the white, which dyes very well, other colors include light grey, grey, emsket (dusky bluish-grey), shaela (dark steely-grey resembling black frost), musket (pale grayish-brown), fawn, moorit (shades between fawn and dark reddish-brown), dark brown and pure black. There are these 11 main colors as well as 30 markings, many still bearing their Shetland dialect names.
Our Letty (a musket).