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Fleecy Friends

Cedar Haven farm's Shetland sheep yield unique wool, and provide warm relationships
by: Barbara Adams, Lynne Deshler connects with her Shetland sheep and other farm animals at Cedar Haven Farm.

'Here, sheep, sheep, sheep,' Lynne Deshler calls in a high, singsong voice. Fifteen Shetland sheep ewes, 14 lambs and one guard llama named Haley come running. The lambs reach up, propping their feet up against Deshler's leg like puppies.

Deshler is the queen in her forest, called Cedar Haven Farm, off Mattoon Road in the Estacada area. It is an evergreen-tree-laden, five-acre farm along Clear Creek, that is home to seven peacocks, eight ducks, two guinea hens, six to eight chickens, six house cats, an Australian shepherd named Jimmy, three Shetland rams, the sheep and Haley the guard llama. There's also a unique family of geese, made up of a Canadian goose who adopted the farm as her home, and a domestic farm goose who, after losing his mate to a coyote, became her husband. After sitting on a nest of infertile eggs for weeks, Deshler felt sorry her and for managed to find two African goslings at a feed store.

'It was quite a feat trying to introduce them to the mom Canadian goose,' Deshler said. 'Canadian geese can be very vicious when they are being messed with on their nest. It was an amazing series of events that unfolded over a few days, but the end of the story is that my Canadian mamma goose and her Toulouse husband goose are now a very tight family, both co-raising two baby African geese. If only the world could come together in such a nice way.'

Deshler, 63, moved to Cedar Haven in 1989 from Los Angeles with her husband, Thomas. While in California, she worked as the assistant executive director with the Los Angeles Girl Scouts. For the past 10 years she's been working in the public sector with a variety of social service agencies that 'work with children that have special needs and with their families,' she said.

She moved to the area because she always dreamed about having a small farm. 'My husband is a real encourager. He knew I loved animals, so he said 'Now we're here, what would you like?'' Deshler said. She didn't want to raise animals for food, so she started by raising angora goats. This went along with another newfound passion-spinning fiber. She read about the calm and docile Shetland sheep, which are the smallest of the British sheep and usually weigh between 75 and 125 pounds.

'They're called a primitive sheep,' Deshler said. Shetland sheep have not been domesticated, she added, so their wool varies within the breed.

In 1990 her first two sheep were flown in from Minnesota. 'My first ram was number 17, which means he was the seventeenth ram in the country-it was fun being part of something new. I'm flock number 80, I think I'm the third breeder in Oregon.'

She's now been breeding and selling Shetland sheep for 15 years. All of her sheep are registered through the National Shetland Sheep Association. She participates in the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene every summer, and at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby every fall. 'Both of these events specialize in fiber animals,' Deshler said.

This was a record year for lambs at Cedar Haven Farm-14 were born this past spring. All but one or two have been sold.

'I market these sheep to people who are like me, people who dream of having a small farm,' Deshler said. 'I socialize them to be very friendly. They're kind of like pet sheep. When it's a warm afternoon, I will often go out and sit in the pasture with my book and the sheep come and snuggle.'

After selling her lambs to a new sheep owner, Deshler continues the relationship by encouraging and mentoring them. It's also given her a new network of friends. For the past four summers she has hosted 'Adult Sheep Camp,' a getaway with other sheep lovers at her farm. 'Generally we'll talk sheep and sheep and sheep,' Deshler said, 'and we'll spin and spin and spin.'

Cedar Haven Farm

Shetland sheep

Quality breeding stock and fleece

503-631-3106

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