Monday, 14 October 2013

North Atlantic Native Sheep & Wool Conference 2

Saturday morning was as much about the sheep as their wool, and the opportunity to hear experts talk about Shetland sheep and what they were looking for in the best sheep and the best 'wool on the hoof' was most definitely a highlight of the day.  All the sheep at the mart that day were Shetland rams.  Addie Doull was one of the people talking about points for Flock Book rams and it was so informative.  It also appeared that for an individual deciding which ram to buy that there was an element of 'feeling' as well as going through the points.

Some was so practical, such as looking for a sheep with a mouth that wasn't too narrow - it means when daylight hours for eating are short in the winter that the sheep can get more food with each mouthful.

Oliver Henry took time out from his judging of the fleece on over 200 rams to give us a fascinating demonstration of what he's looking for in the very best fine fleeces - also known as 'kindly' fleeces.  Crimp and uniformity are just two of the desired characteristics.

Oliver also judged the Fleece Competition and it was the usual wonderful display of the very best fleeces from the clip this year.

High marks, as expected, for the white trio, but I was thrilled to see that the Championship fleece this year was a black fleece from a very fine coloured trio entered by Addie Doull.

 What I hope you can see in this photo of the black fleece is the fabulous crimp and exceptional fineness of the fibres, and the uniformity of this high standard throughout the fleece.

We also had a visit to the adjoining abattoir and a talk by Ronnie Eunson about how the new and modern facility was financed and is run.  This abattoir is now run by the community for the benefit of the community and replaces an ageing facility that many were reluctant to use.  The design ensures minimal stress for the animals and means that Shetland residents can purchase meat that has been entirely processed within Shetland.  I do eat meat and enjoy the wonderful flavour and health benefits of eating lamb/mutton from native breeds grazing on hills, but it's important to me that the sheep are treated with respect and with minimal travelling and other stresses, so I was very happy to see this facility for Shetland.

Some free time next meant some of us could go into Lerwick for the Makers' Market - what a wonderful selection of the incredible skills and creativity to be found in Shetland.  I'm just going to let you share my most enjoyable experience through a selection of photos of the event.

I think this comment, "Plenty of Character" sums up the entire Makers' Market.  As I've said before, if you ever get the chance to come up for Shetland Wool Week, then grab it!  And do include the Makers' Market in your itinerary.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post - I do envy you your life up North. And I must get hold of some Foula wool soon - I'm hearing such interesting and good reports of it.