Who we are

Ramsay Farms is situated in the northeastern part of Ottertail County, near Perham, Minnesota. This family farm of 320 acres has been in the Ramsay family for five generations, dating back to 1892. Today our farm prides itself on our Simmental cattle, Shetland Sheep and BlueFaced Leicester sheep. We strive to breed animals that closest match the breed standards given to them, and mindful of production, health and longevity in our animals as well.
In spring of 2016, there was a purchase of 32 acres in Green County, Wisconsin to accommodate Garrett for his work in that region. The animals have for the most part been moved to that location. Both locations will work in tandem to continue educating and promoting these animals and this way of life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Breeding Plans for fall 2016

Every year when the nights start to get chilly, I get excited to start thinking about putting the breeding groups together. Any good breeder will have at least a 2-3 generation plan in their heads or on paper, and as soon as lambs hit the ground I'm already planning who to breed to who that fall or the next year, or their lambs when they are born.

Ultimately anytime you make a decision, or put two sheep together you've changed them and are improving them. They are not wild animals choosing their mates based on the strongest or fittest or most clever. A breed is a very specific thing, with lots of variability, but it should always LOOK like the breed, and we as breeders need to remember we are preserving a very specific animal, the 1927 standard Shetland, as clarified by Appendix A.

Traveling the Shetland Islands, seeing Foula sheep (and touching, going over them), seeing Shetlands in Scotland, northern England, and the Southwest, there is a LOT of variability in the breed, even with such specifications as Appendix A and the 1927 Standard.

anyway, I'm getting a bit off topic.

I am lucky enough to be able to lease a ram this year: OK Acres Pluto is a horned fawn katmoget ram. CrossWind Thor x ShelteringPines Anais. He is being leased from GlenTamarack Farm, WI where he has sired two years worth of nice lambs! I'm excited to use him. he carries spots and solid and modified as well. I just hope for some great lambs regardless of all that!

I traded Kindred Spirit Farm of New Hampshire last fall, a ram lamb for her horned mioget gulmoget ram, Cedar. He'll be used this fall on a group of girls. I am really hoping for horned gulmoget rams from this (or ewes that carry horned ram genetics) but will be happy with nice lambs too.

I had told Allen Creek Shetlands, WI, that if they ever decided to sell WhitePine Crosby, to let me have first right of refusal, I jumped at the chance to get this guy back! He has a lovely demeanor, and is out of Jazz (Todhill Jericho x Whistlestop Izzy) and ShelteringPines Classique (a VCreek Guinevere daughter). He has the loveliest blue hue to his gray katmoget fleece and is just as nice as i remember him to be. If i got only katmoget form him I'd be so excited, but he also carries spots, moorit and modified.

I also will be using ShelteringPines King Louis. he is a moorit ram out of one of my favorites ewes, ShelteringPines Debonaire. He carries spots but I really am hoping to get his fineness and crimp on some longer stapled ewes, as his fleece isn't the longest fleece. He'll get most of my Ag ewes in hopes of getting more grays and muskets, but am tempted to put my two black ewes on him as well.

Overall i think the rams I am using this fall are top notch. I had wanted to use some of my yearlings this year, but they will have to sit out, while i use these older guys first. I really am trying to breed katmogets and Ag lambs next year so will probably get solid moorit or solid black in stead, as most of my sheep are heterozygous for their patterns. I guess any way I look at it, a nice sheep is a nice sheep, and the pedigrees themselves will speak volume to the quality of the lambs i"ll be getting. I'm excited!

In addition to the Shetlands I will have a BFL breeding group. My ram is from Anne Bisdorf (mostly Somerhill and Potosi lines). He will be put with my five adult BFL ewes, four white ewes and a colored ewe. The oldest white ewe is from Stephen Rouse and is a triplet ewe who carries color. Then I have my two white ewes from Nancy Starkey, and a white ewe and a colored ewe from Becky Utecht. I also have the colored lamb from Lisa Rodenfel but she is sitting out this fall, even though she has grown wonderfully.

I also will have a CVM ram lamb being bred to my three Shetland Mules. I absolutely loved the cross I got in 2015 with them, so will do that again as they didn't sell this year. The growth and the fleece on the lambs is incredible.

Monday, June 13, 2016

2016 FFSSA Supported Show, Estes Park, Colorado

The Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association had their very first Supported Show in conjunction with the the Estes Park wool Festival in Estes Park, Colorado. 

Our judge was long time Shetland breeder, Jim Chastain, of the Whistlestop Flock in Hillsboro, OR. Jim has been to the shetland islands 14 times and imported 6 rams to the US to help widen the gene pool. 

I entered only two yearling ewes, and in a tough class of about a dozen, my ewe, WhitePine Orthia came out on top. She then went on to win Champion ewe, and Best in Show! This is my first overall show win and I am beyond grateful and humble that he chose one of my girls. 

Orthia was coated all winter so her wool is a part along the neckline where the coat sat. Photos of the fleece when I get a moment!

Thanks for Kelly and Mike Bartels for hauling the girls there and making sure I was able to go.

I'll need to really get on it if i want to bring a complete string for the Jefferson show!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Preserve. Protect. Promote


Mission Statement: To produce, preserve, and promote fine fleece Shetland sheep that adhere to the 1927 Shetland breed standard as clarified by the SSS Appendix A.
Purpose: The Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association was formed to preserve and promote fine fleece Shetland Sheep as defined in the 1927 Flock Book Shetland Breed Standard and the SSS Appendix A clarification. All members of the group are committed to breeding and promoting sheep that adhere to those documents. 

The 1927 Shetland Breed Standard as well as the Shetland Sheep Society’s Appendix A are part of this organization’s founding documents.

Three words that are in the Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep Association mission statement are "Preserve, Protect,  and Promote. Let's break these down one at a time.

Preserve. Webster-Merriam describes it as: to keep safe from injury, loss or ruin. 

In the case of our kindly fleece Shetlands, it would be to keep safe from loss or ruin. We certainly do not want to lose our 1927 Standard Shetlands. We do not want them be lost in the sea of atypical Shetlands in North America. There are several 'levels' of preservation I think we need to be aware of as breeder, but also as an association as well.

1. Obviously fleece is a big deal on Shetlands. Its the most controversial part about the sheep in the USA. We do not want to have kindly fleeced Shetlands become more rare than they are now. Strides have been made to make fine fleeced Shetlands available to each other now that there is a way to unify us across the country. The fleece is an important part of the Shetland history, especially as the kindly fleeced Shetland has always been rare, and the entire 1927 standard was created to protect and preserve this very special sheep.

2. patterns/markings/colors are also needed to be preserved. What good is a kindly Shetland if it only comes in black? or just white? we want to preserve all parts of the 1927 standard Shetland. This includes spots, patterns and modified colors. The standard does explicitly comment on all of them, as there are more than are in the standard, and a few rare patterns have shown up that we are now just realizing are in the breed. We as an association MUST make sure we do not lose the rare patterns or spots or modified colors in our quest for something else. Individuals can concentrate on certain colors or patterns, but we should all have room to keep at least ONE rare color/pattern in our flocks if are truly going to preserve this breed in its entirety.

3. Preservation of both polled sheep and horned sheep. This includes horned ewes, polled rams and horned rams. While some may be more popular, we must strive to preserve all varieties of horns/or lack of horns in all patterns and colors. Do we have polled light badgerface 1927 Standard Shetlands? Probably not. Do we have many polled gray rams? horned gulmoget rams or ewes? I personally don't think we are in a position yet here in North America where one flock can concentrate on say just polled blacks, when we need other patterns/colors also in polled. Or just breeding for horned katmogets. If we had 100 members that might be different, but were do we go for diversity later on, if we don't all keep a few extra to help preserve them?

what about the word protect?

from the same website (Webster-Merriam) Protect: to keep (someone or something) from being harmed, lost, etc.

Protect should be self explanatory. However my mind immediately goes to someone standing on their front porch with a shot gun waiting for a vagabond or coyote to stop for a lunch (or steal from the property), but that is not what i want to describe.

As a group of educated and committed breeders it is our job to protect our 1927 Standard, kindly fleeced Shetlands by ensuring that future generations of Shetlands of this quality and make are around to be enjoyed by future farmers/shepherds. How do we do this? By breeding and registering only sheep that adhere to the 1927 standard, and appendix A. Fiber flocks and pets are of course wonderful additions to people's lives, but serious breeders will continue breeding correct animals and in a way, that is protecting them, for future years. Culling is hard. Sometimes it can be emotional. But the breed suffers greatly when we do not have a culling protocol. Just look at how far the sheep have morphed since the original imports in to Canada. Every animal was registered. Every animal was bred from, and now we are in an over abundance of atypical sheep that are being called Shetlands and look nothing like the animals on Shetland in the flock book flocks, or on the mainland UK, in the Shetland Sheep Society. the FFSSA wool grading is one way to make sure the FLEECES pass what would be considered a Shetland fleece, but we must always be aware of the other Shetland breed traits that we must also protect (hardy, thrifty, fine boned, nimble, etc)

Lastly the word promote:

to help (something) happen, develop, or increase

One of the main goals of the FFSSA was originally, and continues to be, education. By educating the general public and potential new breeders we are able to in turn protect and preserve our 1927 standard Shetlands. Education is promotion on a level that doesn't just benefit the breeder trying to sell their stock or wool products. Many Shetland breeders NOT in the FFSSA use promoting just to sell their sheep for their own benefit. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I have found that all FFSSA members are in this not only for their own pleasure and profit, but also for the longevity of the breed. 

But what else can we do to promote them? Sponsor shows where FF Shetlands are being displayed or shown. Enter fleeces in local or regional shows. Enter sheep at those regional or local shows. Set up displays at county fairs, fiber events. Pass out samples at spinning guilds. Maybe even have a booth with your wool products and have historical articles or photos on display. Heck we even did rooing demos to further imprint on the general public at fiber events of festivals. MOST people will find unique things like rooing to be remembered for much longer than just a soft piece of wool. 

What else can we do to promote? Being good shepherds. Can we also reach out to just the sheep industry in general? Let's be known for healthy, low maintenance, thrifty sheep that can weather the months. Maybe other shepherds with other breeds would see just how easy to manage they are and how tame they can be. We will get our membership and new breeders from educating new people and the general public or even other sheep breed breeders. 

We believe in this breed. Breeding them to preserve them will be easy. Protecting them should come second nature to us. Like children or beloved pets, we will protect them.  We believe in the qualities that make the kindly Shetland what it is. We are fierce protectors of them and will stand firm against those who say otherwise. We have a vision, we have a Standard to uphold. And we have each other to help support us when we are down, and to celebrate when things are good.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lambs so far

its been a rainy and windy week but i'll list so far what we have had as of 6am this morning.

Duke x Heylor (whistlstop ewe) had a knock out mioget ram

Duke x WP Neap had a moorit light badgerface ewe. she looks to be horned as well

Elite x PS23 Irene - twin rams. a black krunet and a black light badgerface krunet

Duke x Lancien Matilda - Double Ag gray krunet ram and a musket ewe lamb

Duke x WP Lydia - gray katmoget ewe lamb

Sommarang Luca (gulmoget) x UTS Sateen - moorit gulmoget ram and a fawn katmoget ram

Sommarang Luca x WP Bivina - moorit ram

WhitePine Loki (white) x WP Noss - white ewe

so that's 12 with another couple dozen ewes to lamb at any point. Hoping when i get home today there will be more!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lancien Matilda lambs

A beautiful musket ewe lamb and a double Ag gray ram. Both have head spotting. Look at that FLEECE! they are also put together extremely well!

Friday, March 25, 2016

first two lambs born for 2016

The first two lambs at the new farm have been born!

Both lambs are sired by UnderTheSon Duke Cardiff (who has a new home in Iowa!)

The ram lamb is actually mioget (and horned) and is out of Whistlestop 1241 (0525/Heylor). He is lovely.

This ewe lamb is out of WhitePine Neap (whistlstop 1123 x WhitePine Naomi). She is a moorit light badgerface and could be possibly be Ag (from Duke). 

The quality continues to get better and better. How will i decide who to keep?

It appears that my BFL did not breed any of his ewes so I will NOT be having BFL lambs, or any mules this year. Also due to the request of the owner of the previous farm, I had to cut my breeding groups short, so it appears a few of those ewes are also not bred, which is disappointing. I'll have less than 40 ewes to lamb then this spring. That will be the lowest I've ever lambed since my first year.

Friday, March 18, 2016

1927 Standard, breed typical fleece

There seems to be a lot of misinformation in regards to just what exactly is a 1927 standard typical fleece. While it is obvious there is a spectrum of what a correct fleece could look like, they are all undoubtedly standard typical fleeces. No 1927 standard Shetland should have a dual coat. Those are considered atypical. I am extremely happy with the progress I've made in conforming to the 1927 standard, considering my original stock was not to this caliber. Every year the sheep continue to get better. Micron testing has helped for sure. And never being afraid to be wrong, but always learning, reading articles online, visiting with other breeders, visiting the UK and the Shetland islands, has all helped to cement in my mind what we are trying to preserve and protect. Which is the 1927 Standard Shetland Sheep.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Peace and Tranquility

 Well the whole gang is here. They are loving it. Happy and content.
 The BFLs are also pleased with the new digs.
 I just love the profiles of their faces.
 And then on Saturday, Aaron, my mom Ruth, and Kelly sat down with the dogs for a few snuggles. Gia is back home with me now and she seems really happy to be back with the pack.
Isn't it a great place? can't wait to paint the walls and get the pictures up on the walls too.

Thanks to Terry Malkuch, Terri Yapp and her family, Mike and Kelly Bartels, Aaron, and my parents for helping move my life to Monroe. I couldn't ask for better support team/family and so glad i'm able to have all my stuff in one place.

Monday, February 22, 2016


In anticipation of the move coming up this weekend and the following, i've already brought sheep supplies, hay, and dog crates/supplies to be a bit more prepared for when they come. Thank you Mike, Kelly, and Aaron for helping me with the hay and keeping me calm during this stressful time!

The farm in the background is one of my neighbors, and my home is behind me in the photo. This photo was taken just before sunset. and I thought it was quite tranquil.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Moving to the land of cheese

I have tentatively secured a hobby farm in Green County, Wisconsin. The sheep will be moving there the first part of March, and the cattle most likely in the fall. There is a ton of work to be done, and lambs will be coming end of March! not much time to get ready, but its doable.

Photos will come soon!