No javascript detected! Our online shopping basket requires javascript. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
Return to World Ark Blog Landing

Story and Photographs by Zivile Seporaityte | Communication and Fundraising Coordinator | Heifer Baltic Foundation

Approximately 200 people gathered for a traditional Sheep Shears Festival at Samusiai Farm deep in the forests of eastern Lithuania, organized by the Heifer project community of Alksnas. Before the event everybody already knew that it was going to be a very familiar and practical couple of days with the chance to gain new skills.

There were at least 20 other communities represented, including Heifer communities interested in sheep breeding and production processing. There were also a few families that had immigrated to Lithuania and had made the decision to settle in the rural areas. These families are going to be recipients of the Passing on the Gift® from Alksnas, which is scheduled for this spring.

The Alksnas community connects three or even four generations. Seniors pass on their knowledge and skills to the people, coming from towns to live in the villages. The respect with which domestic animals are treated in this community is the same from the elders of the neighboring villages. In the shear competition, the lady with traditional scissors and the Heifer Baltic Foundation director with electric shears competed to see who could shear the sheep quicker.

Everyone brought homemade meals to the festival and shared with others. Even the children were involved in fleece-felting activities under the direction of a teacher. During the festival, the owner of the farm, Inga Samušien?, made an interactive lesson felting slippers in an hour and a half in front of participants, explaining what she was using and how she was processing fleece. Participants enjoyed this type of training. “The best way to learn is watching how handicrafts are made and listening to the person who is doing it,” Inga said.

After processing two pounds of wool, $100-$200 can be made by selling it to markets abroad. The crafts made with her wool have expanded not only through this village, but to the whole of Lithuania. Now Inga is president of the newly established Fleece Felting Craftsman Association.

Participants were also interested in the BERAS mobile information center, where they could get information about the Baltic Ecological Recycling Agriculture and Society and the clean-up of Baltic Sea.

The most popular topics, however, were Skudde sheep and processing wool. The Skudde Breeders’ Association in Lithuania was created based on the Heifer model. It is said that the original home of the Skudde sheep is East Prussia, the Swiss Alps and the Baltic States. However in Lithuania, Skudde sheep were not officially a local genetic resource, so during Soviet times they disappeared or were exported to Germany. However, the breeders in Lithuania now believe this problem will be solved soon.

The Skudde is a very rare sheep today. There is strong evidence to suggest it was in existence during the Iron Age and that they are possibly direct descendents of the Stone Age sheep. The Skudde is culturally important and is highly genetically valuable because they are one of the purest breeds still in existence.

Heifer Baltic Foundation director Ar?nas Svitojus talked more to the participants about Skudde sheep. It is a short-tailed sheep that thrives on quite barren land. Providing it has some shelter from strong winds and rain, it is perfectly happy outside. Good hay may be used to supplement the Skudde's diet during the winter months, but mineral supplements are not necessary. The sheep are indiscriminate in their browsing and foraging habits and are ideal for landscape conservation. They are at home on the moor or a mountain. Thistles, weeds and other scrub ignored by most breeds are all eaten by the Skudde.

Inga Samušien? agrees that Skudde fleece is similar to the coat of a dog and consists of an undercoat of very fine wool fibers intermingled with short hairs and coarse outer guard hairs. The wool grows around five inches each year with the fleece  averaging 3-5.5 pounds. The underwool is often run through a dehairing machine and then spun into a fine cloth or it may be spun in a natural state producing beautiful rugs and blankets in attractive natural colors. The guard hair is evenly distributed with the wool, which, because of its water-repelling properties, makes it popular for felting.

 

The Skudde is fully mature at two to three years. They have long life expectancy and a long reproductive life. The breed is very fertile with the ewes coming into heat throughout the year, rather than during a particular season. Generally, it is possible for a ewe to lamb three times over two years, with one to two lambs during each birth. The ewes lamb easily and have strong maternal instincts.

Alksnas community members have confidence that their incomes will increase because of sheep-breeding activities. People will earn much more by selling live animals than they would selling meat. As the breed is endangered, it is very important to support and preserve it, and the sheep in the project have documents stating their pedigree. In Lithuania, these animals will be used to improve selection and breeding.

The community members are very happy that they are going to influence preserving the Skudde breed. They believe that this support from Heifer will be beneficial both on nutritional and cultural levels.

Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.

Free Download

You only need to enter this information once to download digital resources.

My Basket
Need Help?

Basket Summary

edit

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }}

Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ {{ product.price | currency }} Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ FREE
{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }} Free
{{ (product.price) | currency }} You've chosen to make this a monthly donation.
Monthly

No products in cart.

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }}

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

edit

Billing Address

{{ billingAddress.first_name }} {{ billingAddress.last_name }} {{ billingAddress.address_1 }} {{ billingAddress.address_2 }} {{ billingAddress.city }}, {{ billingAddress.state }} {{ billingAddress.zip }} {{ billingAddress.country }}

Company

{{ billingAddress.company }}

Shipping Address

{{ shippingAddress.first_name }} {{ shippingAddress.last_name }} {{ shippingAddress.address_1 }} {{ shippingAddress.address_2 }} {{ shippingAddress.city }}, {{ shippingAddress.state }} {{ shippingAddress.zip }} {{ shippingAddress.country }}

Basket Summary

Step 1 of 2 Step 1 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Your basket has been updated.
The following item(s) are now sold-out or unavailable and have been removed from your cart:
-{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle}} ({{ product.quantity}})

{{ nag.title }}

{{ nag.description }}

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }} To: {{ product.giftCardRecipientName }} From: {{ product.giftCardSenderPrint }} Email: {{ product.giftCardRecipientEmail }} Delivery: {{ product.giftCardDeliveryDate }} Message: {{ product.giftCardMessage | truncate '200' }} Delivery: {{ product.additional_info['deliveryDate'] }} Message: {{ product.additional_info['personalMessage'] | truncate '200' }} 1 {{prods["title"]}}

{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }}
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
${{ product.price }}
$ {{ product.price }} Free
Monthly
Remove
SubTotal {{ cartSubTotal | currency }}
It's not a hand out. It's a hand up.

For maximum impact, try adding a few items to your basket.

Browse The Gift Catalog
Secured Checkout

Increase Your Impact with a Donation Visit the Gift Catalog

Make an even bigger impact with a donation from our Gift Catalog

ADD A SPECIAL MOTHER’S DAY GIFT MADE BY HEIFER ARTISANS Shop the Marketplace

Shop the Marketplace for responsibly-sourced, artisan-friendly gifts
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary Edit {{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Payment Information

Step 3 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.

Payment Summary

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }}

Pay By Credit Card
Pay with PayPal logo
Pay with
We were not able to process your request. Please try again or contact Donor Services at 855.9HUNGER (855.948.6437).
Secured Checkout