Friday, April 22, 2016

Preserve. Protect. Promote

ARTICLE 3: MISSION STATEMENT AND PURPOSE

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.


2 comments:

Michelle said...

Good post, Garrett!

Juliann said...

Bravo, bravo Garrett!! Excellent post!

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