We approach breeding season each year the same way. We always ask the same question: How do we end up with every lamb being exactly what we want? We know that isn’t realistic, however. In the old days, we knew it was going to take several generations to accomplish the task. Our goal then was to make sure we took big steps forward each year so we had a good foundation for future improvement.
This year, all 26 lambs met our requirements. That means all were good enough to retain if we chose to do so. That’s never happened before. We have had an 80-90% success rate the past two years, which is really good, but I never expect all of the lambs to be that good. We surely won’t be able to keep all of the 17 yearling ewes that we will have next year. I would be shocked if I still believe all of them fit our needs next spring. Right now, I see potential. The bar gets raised as yearlings. At that point, they have taken the next step, or they haven’t. Some don’t quite develop into what you thought, and others actually mature better. I would say you get one or two on each side of that coin each year.
It’s with all of that in mind, that we have elected to go with the following groups. I’ll discuss each in more detail.
Ok Acres Nitro
- Whispering Pines Jane Eyre
- Whispering Pines Emma
- Whispering Pines Anne Elliot
- Whispering Pines Marianne
- Whispering Pines Elizabeth Bennet
- Whispering Pines Fanny
- Whispering Pines Sherrie
- Whispering Pines Blue Sapphire
- Whispering Pines Pearl
- Whispering Pines Genoa
- Whispering Pines Treviso
There are eight Canterbury daughters in this group, and I think each one is a perfect fit for what Nitro brings to the table. I’m calling this my moorit group, but I have Blue Sapphire and Pearl in here also.
What we have here is a group of ewes with outstanding fine fleece genetics. Nitro has a near perfect combination of fleece length, conformation, handle, and fineness. He also has a color that we want more of. So, if I were to succinctly describe what we are after here fleece-wise it’s: fineness, softness, fleece length, density. The lambs should have all of these things along with correct structure, good legs, body length, size, etc.
All of these ewes are really nice and each one is superfine. Although these ewes are outstanding, I also believe that each one has room for improvement, and I think it’s possible that their lambs could be better than they are if everything comes together. In reality, that’s not going to happen because the bar is set really high with each ewe, but I think we could get several really special lambs here.
Whispering Pines Mr. Darcy
We used Mr. Darcy on a handful of ewes last fall and were extremely pleased with the lambs. As a result, he got more ewes this fall.
- Whispering Pines Kyrie
- Whispering Pines Rosanna
- Whispering Pines Pamela
- White Pine Reawick
- Whispering Pines English Garden
- Whispering Pines Mustang Sally
- Whispering Pines Kelly Kelly
- Winter Sky Vogue
- Whispering Pines Siena
Mr. Darcy has many many fantastic attributes that I hope will be passed to his lambs, but I also hope that these ewes add some of their own magic. As much as I like Darcy, he also has room for improvement. It was a tough call this year deciding which rams to use because we also have three yearlings that are waiting for a shot and one could argue that they are better than Darcy is, but two of them are fawn katmogets and I decided I could not use another fawn katmoget ram this year under any circumstances.
This is not exactly a black group because we have eight ewes in it who are brown-based, but I am hoping to produce some black-based lambs out of this pretty awesome group of ewes. That will happen, but even if we don’t get 50% black-based lambs out of this, I have a lot of confidence in the quality that he will produce based off of this year’s crop.
Ok Acres Aries
I brought this ram in for four reasons and all four were necessary to convince me to do it: He’s fine with nice staple length, he has great bloodlines, great structure, and he’s black. It’s hard to find excellent polled black rams that are also fine. The opportunity was there and we took it. Now, we are hoping to pair the best sheep with him to produce more fine black Shetlands. Here is his group:
- Whispering Pines Georgianna
- Wintertime Itasca
- Whispering Pines Elinor
Okay, that’s a very small group, but it could be a good one. I originally penciled in a few more ewes with this group, but I rarely give ram lambs large groups. I would like to have given him a spotted ewe, but opted to go this way for a number of reasons.