Every once in a while (once a week), we sit down and talk about what our goals are with our Shetland Breeding program. We are bringing in some new sheep this summer with the goal of establishing what we think will be a solid group of rams and ewes for the next two years.
When we originally purchased our starter flock of four ewes and one ram, we didn't have anything in mind except colors. We started with a grey, a black, a brown, and a white. We didn't know how spots were created, knew nothing about genotypes and phenotypes, and had a vague idea about conformation. Once we attended the 2003 AGM in Canada, we (like a lot of people) got a better appreciation for what this breed has to offer. We had no idea! I think visiting the original Dailley flock was quite a pilgrimage for us.
Earlier this year, we decided that even though we had our best lamb crop ever, we needed to diversify a bit. There are simply a lot of avenues to pursue in the shetland world, and we really didn't have much in our flock in terms of patterns and colors. I look at shetlands like video games. There are a lot of hidden genetics to unlock! It helps to know the cheat codes.
With that in mind, we decided to add some katmogets, gulmogets, and modified colors for the first time. We didn't have any sheep with these characteristics.
Our goal is to produce high quality shetlands with the best fleece, markings, and conformation that we can. Jen is really into the fleeces, while I find the patterns and markings to be quite exciting. It just occurred to us that we could have all of that in one animal! All of the sheep we are bringing in meet those requirements (as do most of the ones we have kept). My goal is to have the best sheep we can with the full range of colors, patterns, and markings. We'd like to be one stop shopping for people new to the breed, so that they can learn from our mistakes.
This ram (currently unnamed) is a grey katmoget out of Thelonius Monk. He's quite beautiful (although if you tell him I said that, I'll deny it). He carries spots! He is from Sheltering Pines in Michigan. Thank you Stephen! Picture courtesy of Stephen.
We are also excited to bring in this...handsome mioget gulmoget! He's our first gulmoget ram. I've never seen one this color, but I'm sure many people have. It's a color we don't have. He doesn't carry spots, but he's modified. He is from Under the Sun Farm in Indiana. Thanks Theresa! Picture Courtesy of Theresa.
I'll post more pictures as I get them, but we're also very excited about this spotted black gulmoget ewe lamb that will be arriving soon. Who knows what she will look like in a year, but I love the way she looks now! She is from Twin Springs Farm in Pennsylvania. Sandy took the picture.
The other lambs in the picture are really cute as well.
It's always hard to bid farewell to some animals. We've made these tough choices because we feel it forces us to get better. The following picture shows two animals that we recently parted with. One is a ram and the other a wether. This was back when the boys all shared a 200 square foot studio apartment.
These are the moments that we all live for as breeders! Those individual shining glimpses into an animal's soul.
In closing, even though selling our sheep can be difficult sometimes, I look forward to bringing in the new genetics that so many breeders have worked so hard to create. We owe a lot to so many ground breaking, risk taking breeders!