I literally started putting these groups together last year, and after months of debate and analysis, we arrived here. The plan never goes exactly like you think it will, but we’re excited about next year’s lambs! This ewe lineup is much stronger than the nice group we had last year!
I developed a ranking system last year that we stuck to pretty closely. This year, I refined it a bit, and made it more challenging, but the ewes that we kept all scored very well as did our rams. Will that translate into even better lambs next spring? I hope so. That’s been our goal. You know you’re making good progress when you sell ewes that you really didn’t want to sell. That was the case this year and I expect choices to be even tougher in 2009. When you put a cap on the number of ewes you’re willing to keep, you eventually have to make very tough decisions.
This year, we’re breeding 15 ewes and next year, I’d like to cut back to 12. It will be very tough to do that, but that’s the plan. If you do the math, that means we need to sell six adult ewes and not keep any lambs! Well, I plan on keeping a few lambs, and I like all of our ewes, so it’s going to be interesting.
Here are our fall 2008 breeding groups:
Leyland, our 20 micron shaela gulmoget ram out of Wintertime Black Forrest, will have the following ewes:
Queen Anne’s Lace
This is my mystery group. Obviously, I’m looking for lambs with nice fleeces from this group, but I expect some nice conformations as well. How many of the ram lambs will be polled or scurred? I could also end up with some modified colors, who knows? I also expect to learn whether Leyland carries brown. I’m not anticipating that, but it’s possible. He’s one cute ram though, I’ll say that.
Clover, our light mioget gulmoget ram will have the following:
I expect some really pretty brown-based lambs out of this group if I can keep Clover contained long enough to breed these ewes. I would also expect these lambs to have wonderful conformations as Clover is built extremely well as are these ewes. Except for Tiara, these are all ewes Clover hasn’t been bred to before. Clover and Tiara gave us Bluebell this year, and I hope to get something as good or better next spring. We only got two lambs from him last year, and both were really nice!
Cihat. I’m going to call this my conformation group. These are probably our best all around ewes and I am expecting a lot from them. I could also refer to this as our spotted group since most of the ewes are spotted.
The ewes in this group are:
Cor de Nuit
I’m always excited to see what Cihat throws! I bred Betulina to Cihat last year and really liked the lamb we got, so I’m very interested in what the others throw. The same is true of Fantasia. I’ve said it before, Cihat is quite simply the nicest all around shetland ram I’ve ever seen in person. I’ve seen softer and crimpier fleeces, but he brings so much to the table in terms of horns, conformation, spots, tail, and spinnability! Plus, all of his ewes have softer and crimpier fleeces than he has, so I’m very excited about this group!
Black Walnut drew the short straw this year. We thought about moving several ewes into his group, but each time we did that, we felt like we were merely trying to force a group here, when we knew a different grouping was better. I would have liked Buttercup in this group, and Bluebell would have been another good choice. We opted though to just give him Morning Glory right now. She’s just a beautiful Cihat daughter and I think they complement each other nicely! I could have made a good case for some other ewes here, but we’re happy with the groups as they are.
You know how breedings go, however. The pairings often look good on paper, but don’t always pan out the way you had hoped. I do feel, however, that these groups give us the best chance at producing the type of lambs that we want.
Yes, I would have loved to see a Tiara/Cihat, or a Leyland/Sparkles
combination, and I would like more spotted lambs, but I think this plan will payoff down the road. It all comes back to our vision, and it will take several years before we start to see that come together. Next spring is but one step in the process.
If anyone is interested in seeing pictures of these ewes, please go to our website link at the top of the page. There are way too many pictures to put here.