Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Barn - Jen

Beautiful snowy morning in western NY.

The amish finished the barn addition in October, so it was too late to stain this year. Will make a nice spring project.

Andrew helped me decorate the barn for Christmas. It was a nice way to spend time with him

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ewe A Day - Dahlia and Jasmine

Still trying to catch up with this, but it seems as if my "Ewe A Day" has turned into a "Ewe A Week". With that in mind, here's a daily double for today.

Here are two nearly identical yuglet sokket katmoget twins out of Cihat and V Creek Fantasia. These two were fantastic from the time they were born, and I still like them. There’s barely a difference in them. I will admit that I’m biased by their striking markings, but their fleeces are also gorgeous (like their mother’s). We really like Cihat and Fantasia, but they are very different sheep, with one being the result of heavy AI, and the other a product of pure domestic lines. So, these two ewes are quite interesting. They are about as identical as lambs can get though. I can tell them apart, but it’s not easy. I really didn’t see a need to keep three nearly identical sheep, but these two and their mother convinced me to give it a try this year. I doubt we’ll have that luxury next year. My motto is enjoy them while you have them, because you never know what next year will bring.

Disregard the white one in the background. She apparently wanted a glamour shot of her own.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ewe A Day - Cor de Nuit

Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit is outstanding! She has about everything I want in a Shetland. She’s stout, square, and has a gorgeous single-coated katmoget fleece with great density. I do think she would do very well in a shetland show, but then I think that about many of our ewes. But, if you go line-by-line through the standard, I don't think we have another ewe that is closer to the intent. She just has more frame than many of our ewes.

She’s out of Thelonius Monk (a Bartok son) and Justalit’l Lana (a Bramble Dixon daughter). She carries polled from Lana and spots from Thelonius, and is 43.75% UK.

She's one of those ewes that I like as much today as when we brought her in. She produced two outstanding rams this year. If only they had been ewes!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Corriedale - Jen

I was given an entire black corriedale fleece a few years back when I was at State Fair. I started working on it this summer and have recently added batts and yarn to my etsy shop. I also completed a pair of socks for Will, and he has just placed an order for a matching brimless hat, which he insists he would wear to school. This is mighty praise for a knitter to receive from a teenager.

I have a few comments about this fiber.

A. I love it.
B. The fleece is massive. Its like a bottomless pit of fiber.
C. The color is gorgeous
D. Its fun to spin
E. The fact that my fussbudget Will wears socks made from this fleece is a testament to the softness.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ewe A Day - Fantasia

V Creek Fantasia is a wonderful two-year old ewe with a gorgeous single-coated blue-grey fleece. There's very little I don't like about her. As an added bonus, she's the friendliest ewe on our farm. At the fair this year, she would often stick her head through the gate and rest her head on our laps as we sat next to it. As a brood ewe, she brings a lot to the table. I like her bloodlines for one. She's a double F3 Greyling out of Walnut Rise Ivan and V Creek Sparkles. There aren't a lot of spotted sheep out of those lines. She had two very nice ewe lambs this spring that we decided to keep.

You can see her excellent structure in the picture below. Lots of frame and very level.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shetland Shawl - Jen

I wrote about this shawl last spring, I was in the final stages of completion and couldn't resist a premature blog entry. I was quite desperate at the time - thank you to all for your support. Now its done and blocked, and I am totally over it. Sort of like how after you have the baby you forget about how painful the delivery was?

I spun the wool from two different ewes, and knit it in the round. I got the pattern from Fiddlesticks, its called "Garden Flowers".

Funny story, I have been killing myself over this thing. Took with me on every sheep delivery/pickup Rich and I made for 5 years. Had it sprawled on our bed for an entire day during blocking. Blogged about it. It's been my albatross, right? So I finish it, and put it on and show it to Rich one day while he was reading a book about sheep parasites or something. He goes (I swear I'm not kidding), "Hey, that's really nice! Where did you get that?"

By the way, there is no way in heck this thing will fit through a wedding ring.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ewe A Day - Pyrenee's Morn

This is a good looking ewe in my book. Pyrenne's Morn is a grey katmoget and an F2 Greyling. She has an excellent conformation, and a very dense and crimpy five inch (ish) fleece. She's also very uniform from front to back. Very wide and level!

Pyrenee had two very nice ram lambs this year. Her dark brown was featured in a recent post, and her other ram (Merlin) lives with Penelope in CT. We're amazed at how friendly she has become. She was our wildest sheep a year ago. I think Stephen trains them that way (LOL).

Her two year old micron test was very respectable (AFD: 29.2, CV: 19.0). I like to keep the CV's less than 20.0%. That's what I like about this ewe. I'd like to shave a few microns off of her fleece, but it has everything else. I have an excellent ram for her this year who might accomplish that. He also has a very low CV, and has the darkest blue fleece I've ever seen in person. Hers is actually quite dark as well. I hope to get some fleece shots of some sheep very soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rams For Sale

Here are some late additions to our for sale list this year. It's never a good idea to offer rams this late in the season, but these guys are fantastic! We should proably be using these guys, but my breeding groups are 90% set, and it doesn't make sense to hold these rams over for a year. I'll probably end up doing just that because of the timing, but I wanted to see if anyone has a need for a high quality ram this fall.

The first one is out of Pyrenee's Morn and UTS Clover. He was born black, but is now dark brown. I'm not well versed in the dark brown coloration, but his brown goes right down to the skin (nearly). His father was mioget. I expected that he might turn shaela, but that's clearly not the case. I didn't expect dark brown. We kept him because is a knockout! He won't be extra fine, but he has great density and structure!

This guy is out of Cor de Nuit and Cihat. He is a half-poll. He has a wonderfully dense, single-coated fleece that is very uniform. It won't be extra fine (which is why we are selling him), but it is just a beautiful spotted fleece. His structure is out of this world! Just a phenomenal conformation! I'd love to find a way to use him this year, but it's not going to happen. Very square and gentle. His brother was even nicer, but developed fatal horns.

The last ram is a Leyland son out of Bluebell. He looks mioget in this picture, but his fleece is actually fawn. His mother is mioget. This guy is also awesome. He's probably the best all around ram of the three, even though his conformation isn't quite up to the other two guys. It's still a very very good conformation, however. The other rams are at the top of the charts for that.

His fall micron test was a very respectable 25.2/4.8/19.2. Again, not extra fine, but very uniform from front to back. This finds me again asking, "why wasn't he a ewe?". All of our best lambs were rams this year. We had some really nice ewes as well, but the rams were the winners in terms of overall quality.

Ewe A Day - Violet

Pike Hill Violet is another ewe that has risen up my grading chart over the past year. She has an intermediate fleece, excellent conformation, and striking katmoget markings. She didn’t lamb this spring, so we’ll see how things go this year. We’re fortunate she didn’t sell when we had her up for sale last year. Still, we do have too many grey kats. It seems like all the best sheep are grey katmogets doesn’t it? Darn you Greyling and Minder!

Violet’s fleece is a hand spinner’s dream. Nice density! Overall, she rates well!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ewe A Day - Cosmos

This is Onyx Velour’s daughter out of Cihat. She’s a yuglet socket smirslet gulmoget. She carries many of the nice traits of her parents, but I wouldn’t grade her quite as highly as them at this point. Of course, that’s not really much of a knock, since her parents were both very very nice! She's also very nice as well.

Right now, she has an intermediate fleece that has the uniformity that we’re breeding for. She’s just a good, solid, uniformly fleeced foundation ewe who I think can help us improve. I’m very interested in how this one turns out! I haven't decided who we'll breed her to. We've never had ewe lambs grow like they have this year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ewe A Day - Krokus

This is Tiara’s ewe Krokus. I really wanted a mioget gulmoget ewe this past spring, and we ended up with two of them (although one was technically fawn). She looks like she’s going to be quite nice. Overall, I’d grade her higher than her full sister Bluebell, even though her fleece isn’t as fine. She’s one of the few ewes we decided to keep just on structure, color, and pattern. Sometimes, you just like something so much, you just have to keep it. I think it’s dangerous to breed exclusively for color and pattern, which is why that will be a secondary consideration for us after conformation and fleece. Of course, that probably means we’ll have all grey katmoget lambs.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ewe A Day - Onyx Velour

Sheltering Pines Onyx Velour (Sheltering Pines Byzantium x Underhill Thelonius Monk) is a spectacular two year old, smirslet socket gulmoget who remains one of my favorites. She’s just a gorgeous ewe with a nice handling intermediate fleece. She’s 56.25% UK (Dillon and Bartok)! I have very few gripes about this ewe. If I were design my perfect gulmoget ewe, she would look much like Onyx.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ewe A Day - Bluebell

Whispering Pines Bluebell is a nice ewe out of UTS Clover and UTS Tiara. We kept her last year because of her beautiful, uniform mioget fleece. She’s a tad darker than her mother, and approximately the same size. She’s put together pretty well, but not quite as nicely as her mother. So far, I like her fleece. It tested 26ish in the spring as a yearling, so she won’t be fine, but it’s a step in the right direction. We had her up for sale, but as the summer progressed, we started to like her more and more. The only reason we had her for sale was to reduce our numbers, so keeping her was always an option. She also had a nice fawn ram this year who we continue to like. It’s tough selling the good ones and I’m always somewhat relieved when they don’t sell.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ewe A Day - Tiara

Under The Son Tiara has a beautiful mioget fleece, that is much lighter than anything else I’ve seen in person. She’s also smaller than we prefer (about 65 pounds), but she is correct in all other ways. I still have a bias toward correct ewes and try to keep as many in the flock as possible. I think this year, it's time to figure out whether she carries spots.

We've liked her well enough that we kept both her lambs from the past two years. She'll be three this spring.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ewe A Day - Gold

As the saying goes..."A shetland a day will keep the doctor away." With that in mind, I'd like to continue on with our annual tradition of introducing all of our ewes leading up to breeding season.

Much has changed at Whispering Pines since I last blogged, and I will slowly roll out some of them before we identify the breeding groups for this fall. The truth is, I haven't decided on all of them, so I have to drag things out until the day the groups are actually put together.
Each year, we evaluate our flock and make difficult decisions on who to keep. It's a lengthy process and I won't bore you with the details, but it all comes down to our vision of what we want our sheep to look like. It's difficult because very few ewes have all of the components of that vision. One might have an outstanding fleece, but not quite measure up with conformation. Another might have a lousy tail, or lack fleece density. So, the ewes that remain have an important role in our program or they wouldn't be here. The challenge all breeders have is trying to envision how an animal will produce toward their goals. There are no sentimental favorites on our farm anymore. That's a cold, harsh reality. That's not to say that all are perfect, but I can say with confidence that each of these ewes brings something to the table that will help us reach our vision, and we also know that it's going to take several generations to begin to see it. That's what Jen and I both love about raising shetlands. Getting from point A to B is a challenge. It's actually more like going from point A to Z. There are a lot of steps in between. Our challenge has been to clearly identify what "Z" is. Without that, there'd be no way to achieve it.
That's also why our ewes are relatively young. When they produce like we hope they will, we have no choice but to move them on to new homes. That doesn't mean, however, that we made a mistake in keeping them around in the first place (sometimes it does). On the contrary, we have committed to achieving our vision with less than 20 ewes. There's no way to do that if you keep both the lambs and mothers each year. That's a blessing, however, in my mind. That allows us to place very nice ewes in good homes, which ultimately makes the breed stronger. It's a win win situation in my mind because the ewes can make a solid contribution to someone else's vision, which may be slightly (or even drastically) different from ours.
I'll start ewes that I have pictures of and slowly work my way into those that require more work on my part. I just don't have good pictures on the entire flock right now.

Gold is a very nice yearling ewe in most ways. She is a very light mioget yuglet sokket that has matured nicely over the past 12 months. Gold is one of the few that we kept almost exclusively for conformation and markings. She has a lot of both! Ultimately, we decided that we can't keep ewes that don't fit our goals unless they are exceptionally strong in some pieces of it. So, Gold gets to stay and hopefully she'll produce a ewe lamb who'll be even closer to our vision for the flock! There are a few things we don't like about her (there's always something with all of them), but we've found that a lot of people really like her. She's always been one of our three mischievious imps (Primrose and Snapdragon are the other two).

Gold has the fleece type that you either really like, or you hate. Even her facial structure is something that you either love or hate. I happen to like it a lot. It comes down to whether you like large, beefy sheep, or typey, more refined shetlands. She is more refined. We have both types in our flock, and I can't say I have a strong preference to either type. I have preferences in fleece type, but that's a topic for another day.

We didn't breed Gold last year as a lamb because we felt she was a bit small. She's still not a large ewe, but she's likely in the 70 pound range right now. We haven't taken fall weights yet, but she looks in that area to me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

County Fair - Jen

Our Niagara County fair was this past weekend. We had a really good time at the fair as always. Its a lot easier when the boys are older and take more responsibility for getting the sheep ready for show and daily care. A little bribing also works wonders. The shetlands were a big hit, again the only wool breed at the show, but we are used to it and value the opportunity to educate and exhibit the breed.

Here's Will with Fantasia. Love the hoodlum slumped in the background...
Both boys showed adults for showmanship and then brought little lambs for the breed classes. They both placed fourth in showmanship, they were pleased. Usually they just get plucked out first and put at the end of the line. Caught up with our 4h friends and just had a real nice time.

Andrew is getting a little tall to be showing shetlands without a halter. Next year he will have to hit the massage booth after the show...

There was a balloon sculptress at the fair, she made this whole scene from balloons. Remarkable.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lambs we are keeping - Rich

Well, we’re officially in the dog days of summer (whatever that means). Like much of the northern part of the country, we have been relatively cool this year. It’s been like one extended spring. That makes sense, because the winter extended into spring more than usual as well. Will the summer extend into fall?
Some of the farms have been late cutting hay this year. I would say at least three weeks late in many cases. That results in a first cut product that our sheep won’t eat. As a result, we don’t have any new hay yet.

I wanted to take this opportunity to blog about a few of our favorite lambs this year:

This is Bluebell and Leyland’s ram.

He’s really developing nicely. We’re going to hold onto him until we get a micron test this September, then we will decide if we are keeping or selling him. If anyone wants dibs on him, let us know and we’ll give you the right of first refusal. I don’t think he’ll be 20 microns like his father, but I do think he’ll have a nice test. His color, fleece type, and conformation really stand out in a crop of very nice lambs this year! I also believe he’ll have a full rack even though his father is a half poll. I bred Leyland to ewes that I knew lacked the polled gene. This guy is going to be fawn. At one point, it looked like he would be mioget, but now I don’t think so. I realize a lot of people would register him as a dark mioget, but I think he’s technically a fawn.

Why do I say that? Because here is a true mioget gulmoget.

See the difference? This is a gulmoget ewe out of Bluebell’s mom, Tiara. Her father is Clover. We just love this girl! She’ll have an intermediate fleece.

Next is one of Cor de Nuit’s twin rams. We are very pleased with these rams. Both are very single coated (from their mom) and built like greek gods (although none of the greek gods were sheep…that I’m aware of).

This guy is black (duh), but carries spots.

I’m not sure whether he carries brown. He has small scurs (again, from his mother). I don’t know if we’ll use him this fall or not. I’d like to. He has about everything we’re breeding for.

His brother is also structurally fantastic!
I think this guy is an improvement over both parents at this point. He seems to have inherited the strengths from each. He’s certainly the best spotted ram we’ve ever owned! I don’t know whether we’ll use him this year either. We have an abundance of black based sheep and really don’t want to add a bunch more to the mix. But he’s pretty amazing! I can’t find anything wrong with either of these guys. I’m not nuts about scurs, so maybe that’ll end up being the fly in the ointment, but I don’t see anything else. Both are two months old now, so now’s when we normally start to find flaws in stuff. So far, so good with these guys.

I like the bloodlines with these two as well. We took the best of what we liked in domestic lines (Cihat) and crossed it with some UK content that we liked (Cor de Nuit). I would imagine that the results of such crosses would be hit or miss, but I think this one was a definite hit.

We did the same thing with Fantasia and ended up with these gems this spring.

These yuglet sokket katmoget ewe lambs are singled coated, dense, crimpy, and just fantastic! We liked them so much that we felt we could sell Fantasia! The lambs inherited much of their looks from her, but they do seem to have their father’s great tail and spotting. Very nice lambs!Here is another great little ewe lamb out of Onyx Velour and Cihat. Again, we went for the domestic/UK cross. She’s a yuglet sokket gulmoget who looks very much like a caped flecket. She has a nice fleece, even though it’s not exactly what I’m after. Like I said, you can’t nail it every time. I do think she’ll be intermediate, but I’m very interested in seeing her first fleece test. Her father actually has a lower CV than her mother, but both have excellent micron tests. Both have sub 25% CV’s, which is what we’re after. It just results in a much nicer spinning fleece!

Last but not least, is Buttercup and Leyland’s fawn gulmoget ewe lamb. She’s probably my favorite this year! She’s built extremely well (thanks to our dear little Buttercup), and seems to have a fleece that we are targeting! She’ll also be intermediate, but she is very uniform. All of the above lambs are that way, even though their fleece types are very different.

One thing we learned this year is that Leyland is a gulmoget factory. He’ll always throw gulmogets regardless of who he is bred to!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Added 4 ewes to our sales list - Jen

We've added four ewes to our sales list. This was really hard, especially the adult ones. So here goes:

Whispering Pines Snapdragon is for sale. She is a fawn katmoget smirslet out of Bluff Country Zabrina and Windswept White Pine. Full package ewe here. Great conformation, markings, color, and she is very friendly. She comes up to you, stands for scratches and is very halter trained. In fact the only way I can get photos of her from a distance is to tie her to a post, to prevent her from coming up to me and nuzzling my ear while crouching to take pictures. We are going in a different direction fleecewise, just a preference for us, so we had to let her go.
VCreek Fantasia is also for sale. She is a grey yuglet sokket katmoget out of Vcreek Sparkle and Walnut Rise Ivan. Very fine, uniform fleece, great markings and she has thrown some beautiful lambs for us. She carries polled genetics. We are keeping her two ewes from this year and just can't rationalize keeping 3 grey yuglet sokket kats. She is so friendly its sick. Loves attention, easy on the halter, consistently is the first ewe to walk to me in the morning to say hello.

We also decided to let two of Leyland's ewes lambs from this spring go. We had planned to keep them, but we just don't have the room. So, these are both available. Leyland is exceedingly fine fleeced with a nice crimp and is half polled.

His first ewe lamb is out of our Lavender. She was the last lamb born this year. She carries spots, and doesn't appear to have the side frosting most gulmogets have. She has polled genetics in her bloodlines. She is very close to being halter trained and can leave here by the end of June.

Queen Anne's Lace's ewe is also a black gulmoget, in addition she is spotted and carries brown. She is also out of Leyland. She has a lot of frosting, I actually like it as the yarn will end up being a pretty heathery steely grey, I think. She has a large krunet cap and then a cute little white booger on the side of her nose. Very distinctive appearance. She is also close to being halter trained and can leave here any time.

We have more information on all of these ewes on our website. Would be very happy to send additional photos, fleece samples, micron results on the adults and parents. I also have some roving samples on the adults if you are interested.

Delivery is available.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sparkle's Fiber - Jen

I posted some batts from Sparkle's 2009 lamb fleece onto my etsy shop. Rich bought her last year from Tori Gygi, and I am exceedingly pleased with her fleece. It is so dense, soft and consistent - it was a pleasure to process. I try to weigh all my fleeces through the whole process, and hers is on top not only for gross weight, but also for spinnable fiber yield as a % of gross weight as well as body weight. It feels great, cards well and I envy the person who will be purchasing this fiber, whoever it may be. Photos of Sparkles, a lock of her fiber, her little ram lamb and the batts from her fleece are below: