Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spun dog hair mittens - Jen

I took a commission from a friend of a friend to make a pair of mittens from hair collected from their dog, a husky. At first it started out as a family joke, as the dog is notorious for shedding, but as they researched the idea, they got more and more excited about pursuing the mittens.

The hair was about 1” long, not long enough for my skill level to spin on its own, so I blended the hair with about 30% wool, but still the batts were just like big balls of fluff. I am still hacking up hairballs!

Spinning was a challenge, I am used to the long fibers of Shetland which spin up nice and consistent and smooth. The hair tended to draft out of the batt in clumps, so the yarn ended up looking like a bulky novelty yarn. Not a bad thing, just not what I’m used to.

Knitting was awesome, since it was a commission, I had the excuse to knit all day on that stormy Friday. Probably will end up being one of my favorite Christmas memories of 2008. Guilt free daytime knitting, catching up on Charlie Rose episodes, watching the snow storm through the window, wearing sweat pants, slugging down hot tea and cookies, catnapping every so often from the exhaustion of non stop knitting…oooh, nirvana!
So here they are, and they were picked up last night. I started spinning on Wednesday, and wove in the final strand on Sunday afternoon. I hope the giftee is happy with them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kiraz morning surf scarf - Jen

I made this scarf from a pattern in Spin off - morning surf. It was really nice to knit, required a little counting, but it went pretty fast. I used Kiraz's wool, and her highlights really stand out with this pattern.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Needlefelted North Pole - Jen

This was inspired by a really cool shop I found on etsy, this lady makes needlefelted playmats and little elves and stuff. Anyways, it started out as just a snowman, but then it got away from me. The squirrel, crow, bunny (in the log) and mouse are loose and can be played with. I think I still want to add a skunk. Most of the wool came from a local farmer that has a dorset cross - lots of mediocre wool, so I cleaned it and carded it, dyed it with cushing dyes for the bright colors. The mouse and crow are from Dahlia who now lives in New Jersey. The squirrel (behind the pole) is from Jasmine, who is in NYC!
I was hoping to post this on etsy, but the boys won't let me, they want to keep it.

I will probably make more of the same idea. Its fun, and reminds me of making paper dolls when I was a kid.
Sorry about the el crapola photo. I need a new camera or something.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wintertime, and its time for fiber - Jen

We are coming to the end of breeding season, the sheep are all healthy, the rams are getting along well, pens are clean, the barn is full of hay and straw. Its winter, and that means its time t0 shift most of my attention to playing with fiber. To that end, I opened an etsy shop, which has been really fun and a nice outlet for my handspun stuff. I recently managed to secure a variety of raw fleeces including more shetland, border leicester, lincoln and corriedale. So will have fun processing those. I've started dyeing a little more, and also experimenting with needlefelting. I have a million ideas for new things to do, am bored with current projects, and am actually happy with a couple of finished items. For example, here is a yarn I just posted on etsy.
I've named the color, "Stepped on a caterpillar". I think the color looks like the goo that comes out of a caterpillar, all swirly and mixed together. The wool was provided by Lilly, this is the last I have of her wool, since she is now thriving with a nice family near Syracuse.

The color mix was arrived at very unintentionally. The story is I was messing around with handpainting, unsuccessfuly attempting a variety of methods I won't bore you with, but never was happy with the results. After about 5 frustrating dye sessions, I decided I am not a handpainter. So I took the whole blob of dyed wool, drum carded it together and produced this lovely hodgepodge of color.

Its a two ply, lighter weight, 13 wpi (that is if I'm measuring correctly) and I ended up with 2 skeins at a total of 320 yards. Easily enough for a hat, or some cozy socks.
For this week I hope to complete some wool I dyed turquoise, scarlet and orchid which I'll be blending and spinning up, a natural lace scarf and some natural shetland roving. I LOVE winter!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2008 Breeding Groups - Rich

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:

Pyrenee’s Morn

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:

Onyx Velour
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.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

To Breed or Not to Breed (Part Deux)

This is part two of my breeding vision. This is probably the closest thing you’ll see to a Jerry McGuire moment from me.

Breeders all have different thoughts about what they want their flocks to look like. Some breeders want patterns, some specific colors, others fine fleeces, etc. That’s what makes it fun. But what is our vision and how do we achieve it?

I won’t attempt to speak for anyone else, but I do know what my vision is and how I want to get there. I may be wrong about my approach, but I do know where I’m headed. Our vision is this: We breed for health, conformation, and nice hand spinner’s fleeces (in that order). We select and breed sheep for those things. So, to me, vision is the choices that we make. Cihat is a spectacular ram who produces very nice yarn. He’s not fine, however. He does produce a nice hand spinner’s fleece though.

I think people can get too caught up in having their name on a sheep. To me, that’s not a vision. To me, a vision is having a clear idea of what you want your flock to look like, and then pairing sheep that you think give you the best odds of achieving that. Maybe you want a certain type of spotting. Maybe you want all polled sheep. Whatever your vision, I think the breeding decisions you make really define who you are.

So, the breeding choices you make are really the first step in the process.

The second step (and perhaps the most important part) is what you decide to keep and what you decide to sell. Personally, I’ve decided to only sell stuff that I think is breeding stock. We didn’t always look at it that way. When we first started, if someone wanted one of our sheep, we would sell it. But if we’re putting our name on a sheep, shouldn’t we take those decisions pretty seriously? I think so. That whole process is very subjective, I’ll admit, but it defines who you are. Just because we have our farm name on our sheep, however, doesn’t mean it fulfills OUR vision. That’s the only point I’m trying to make.

So, if all our registered stock is of breeding quality, how do I decide which ones to keep? I only keep the ones that fulfill my vision (or bring me closer to it). What do I want my sheep to look like? Should they look like another farm’s shetlands? No.

So, can I put two of farm A’s sheep together and end up with one that fulfills my vision? Absolutely. That’s possible if I end up with a lamb that looks like my vision of what a Shetland should look like. If it was Farm A’s vision, he/she would’ve kept those sheep.

If I pair sheep in any other way, then I’m merely perpetuating someone else’s program. I don’t think that’s wrong, by the way, but it’s no vision either.

Our vision consists of the choices we make with our flocks.

Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight. Eventually, I think you end up with a lot of sheep with your name on them when you get closer and closer to your vision, but that takes years. It takes longer when you make stupid breeding and sales decisions (as I’m prone to do).

I spent more time this year than ever putting my breeding groups together and I’m still finalizing them. Why is it taking so long? I take it quite seriously. Plus, this vision thing is making me crazy. I want to get to point D, by skipping points B and C.

Will a pairing of Black Walnut with Buttercup, for example, bring me closer to my vision of the perfect Shetland? I like both of them and both are Whispering Pines sheep. That would, therefore, seem like a logical choice. They also compliment each other. One’s strengths are the other’s weakness. Since neither is perfect, will that take me closer to my vision or not? I still haven’t decided. I might get closer by crossing Buttercup with a ram from another farm. After all, I chose those rams because they were part of my vision. I didn’t choose them because they were cheap or friendly or smelled nice.

Most Shetlands do not look like my vision of what they should. That’s no criticism of those sheep. They probably match up quite well with the current standard. And yes, Shetlands should be fine, but how fine? If you can’t spin the fiber because it’s too short and is weak, is that a good thing? No, but if it’s course, that’s no good either.

It gets back to an earlier post that I made on the subject. Will pairing two sheep take me back a step or closer to my vision? That’s not always easy to determine. I often go with the odds.

At the end of the day, I have to go with what I believe to be my best chance at getting the lamb I want. Do I want the softest fleece, big horns, spots, patterns? Ideally, I’d want all of those things. I don’t have one ram, however, that gives me all of that. Some people might.

I mentioned Black Walnut because he is the best combination of those things that I have. But he doesn’t have as nice a conformation as Cihat (not many rams do), and he doesn’t have as fine a fleece as Leyland (not many rams do), and he doesn’t have the gorgeous color and pattern combination that Clover has (not many rams do). That’s what makes it fun and challenging!

At the end of the day, what’s most important to me as a breeder? That’s what drives my breeding decisions, and it’s also what makes our flock different than other flocks. It doesn’t make mine better, mind you, just unique.

Right now, my vision is heavily weighted toward conformation and health. Black Walnut has a fairly even weighting of important attributes. He might take me closer to my vision in terms of fleece, but if I want a show quality conformation, should I go in another direction? It’s a good debate. He’s very very good in all things I value, but he isn’t excellent in any of them. He may be show quality, but he doesn’t look like my vision of what I want a Whispering Pines sheep to look like. I like him a lot, make no mistake about that, but if I were to do a composite police sketch of my perfect shetland, it would look similar, but a little different than him. It would look like Cihat and Clover with Leyland’s fleece micron, and Black Walnut’s staple length. That doesn’t mean, however, that I couldn’t get that sheep by breeding him to one of the ewes that I like. That’s why I’m breeding Leyland to Black Walnut’s mother (Violet). That could bring me my perfect shetland. It may not.

That’s where my current indecision lies. It would be easy if I had a ram with the perfect combination of everything.

All of my rams serve a purpose or they wouldn’t be here. Now I just have to find the magic combination that I’m looking for and end up with a bunch of lambs that fulfill my vision…in 10 years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit - Rich

Sire: Underhill Thelonium Monk
Dam: Justalit'l Lana
3/25/06 Twin Grey Katmoget/Smirslet

This ewe is all about conformation and fleece! She is single coated and has tremendous density, dark blue-grey coloration, and fine crimp! Plus, she’s spotted. Her spotting is subtle, but it’s there. She’s our largest ewe at 88 pounds. I think that’s a good weight for a ewe. I wouldn’t want anything bigger. I would say our mature adult ewes weigh anywhere between 65 and 88 pounds. Most fall in the mid to low 70’s. I bought this ewe for her conformation, but I’ve grown to love her fleece. I haven’t decided who to breed her with. Any suggestions? She’ll have nice lambs, it’s just a matter of what kind? There are several ways we could go with her this fall. Cor has some impressive breeding in her background as well. She’s an F3 Minder, F4 Timothy, F4 Holly, and F4 Greyling. She brings a lot to the table for us.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

S'more Sparkles - Rich

Sire: UnderTheSon Torvus
Dam: Smore Petal
3/30/08 Grey Yuglet/Flecket Twin Ewe

I love this ewe, what else can I say? You talk about that “just look at me” presence. Sparkles is out of Tori Gygi’s breeding program. Tori is a smart girl with a nice eye for shetlands and Sparkles is a great example of it. Sparkles will have an intermediate fleece that is soft and crimpy. She also has just a beautiful face! She is a good example of what I mean when I say that you can have a nice intermediate fleece with nice crimp and softness.
She’s also a nice cornerstone ewe for us! I have no idea whether I’ll use her or not this fall. She’s like that new car that you never want to take out of the garage unless it’s sunny and off peak traffic. She also has a fabulous conformation. Again, her flaws are so small they’re not worth mentioning. If this ewe ever leaves our farm, it’s because the rest of our ewes are perfect or we’re not breeding shetlands anymore! She’s that nice! Sparkles also has nice UK content. She’s an F2 Orion and F3 Skeld.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Windswept Gold - Rich

Sire: Red Ram Billy Joel
Dam: Windswept Kara Nurice
Twin Mioget Yuglet Socket Ewe
Micron: 27.1 @ 7 months
SD: 9.2 micron
CV: 33.8
We love this little ewe. She shares many of the same traits as Primrose, but adds a nice light mioget color and a longer staple length. I think she’ll be more primitive than intermediate, but her fleece has a really soft feel to it. She was just too nice to pass up. When we come across excellent conformations, markings, and colors, it’s hard to pass up. It’s hard to say at this point whether she’ll have the same level top line that many of our sheep have, but she’s really nice! I doubt we will use her this fall, however. She’s just a beautiful, striking ewe lamb!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whispering Pines Snapdragon - Rich

Twin Ewe S27368 4/13/08
Sire: Windswept White Pine
Dam: Bluff Country Zabrina
Fawn Katmoget Smirslet Sokket Ewe

This fawn smirslet sokket katmoget ewe lamb is something else! She is out of Bluff Country Zabrina and Windswept White Pine, and somehow, ended up better than both! That’s how I feel right now anyway. Her fleece has nice density, crimp, and handle. It’s one of those fleeces that you just want to put your hands on! This ewe also has an excellent conformation and tail to boot! She’s probably the best all around ewe lamb that we’ve had born on the farm. She’ll have an intermediate fleece as well. You never really know how a lamb will mature, but I like what I see so far. She’s certainly one of our best lambs this year!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How long does it take to make that? - Jen

I get the question all the time, how long does it take to make that? My answer? I have no clue. Depends on how far back you go I guess. How do you express that the point isn't racing to a finish line with a timer? I sort of meander around aimlessly with my fiber hobby. I make decisions as I go along, with no final objective in mind most of the time. Every step of the process (except for shearing) is executed with the sole objective of enjoying what I am doing at the moment. I don't look at the lamb and see a sweater. I enjoy the lamb. I mess around with dyes. I feel like sitting at the wheel and grab some fiber. Once in a while I want to make something and I dig around to see what I have in my stash at any point in the process (wool, roving, yarn) that's closest to the final point.

For example:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whispering Pines Primrose - Rich

Whispering Pines Primrose - S27356
Twin Yuglet Sokket Ewe 4/24/08
Sire: Windswept White Pine
Dam: Sheltering Pines Kiraz

Primrose is a very nice ewe lamb. She has an excellent conformation and yuglet HST markings, and a nice tail. She is a dainty ewe, and I’m not planning on using her this fall. She will have an intermediate fleece, I believe, and it is quite soft to the hand. This lamb also inherited some of the strengths of each parent. She’s also one of our friendlier lambs and gets quite temperamental when she doesn’t receive enough attention. She is impossible to photograph - she is so friendly you practically have to push her away in order to get a picture.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Whispering Pines Morning Glory - Rich

Sire: Sheltering Pines Cihat S17465
Dam: Under the Son Betulina S24627
Single Moorit Gulmoget

No discussion of our nicest lambs can take place without including Morning Glory. She is out of Betulina and Cihat and inherited some of the strengths from each. She is our largest lamb right now, although she wasn’t at birth. She has grown nicely. Although, I don’t make final breeding decisions on our lambs until late October, it’s clear that she will be big enough to breed this year, so we’ll probably use her. We have our strongest ewe roster to date, so there’s no need to breed lambs that have marginal size. We love this lamb!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Whispering Pines Bluebell - Rich

Whispering Pines Bluebell S27359 Single Ewe
Sire: Under The Son Clover
Dam: Under the Son Tiara
This mioget ewe will have an intermediate fleece with a nice handle. I like the intermediate fleeces because they are a little longer than the single coated types and they often have nice crimp as well. I think our flock will be primarily intermediate for the next few years and I think this ewe will be one of the cornerstones. It’s not that we don’t have any single coated sheep in our flock, we do. I just prefer a little longer staple length than many of the single coated sheep provide.

Once I start coming across some nice single coated fleeces on sheep that are structurally sound, I would be interested in that. But I’m not going to give up conformation just so I can have a bunch of single coated fleeces. That doesn’t make any sense to me. The intermediates can be so lovely on the right animal. And they spin up so nicely as well. I won’t dispute that the single coated sheep might be finer on average than the intermediate or primitives, because I really don’t know. I’ve heard that, and I can’t dispute it. I think most people would agree, however, that you can have staple lengths that are too short, and I don’t care for that.

Fantasia, for example, has a nice fine single coated fleece. It’s a beautiful fleece and I want more sheep like that, but it is a touch on the short side. Again, I wouldn’t want all of my ewes to have that style fleece, but it is very nice! I hope to some day find the magical balance between fineness and length. I need to enjoy the journey, however, and I really like this ewe!

I’m also curious if she carries spots. That’ll take some time to find out. Her mother was a krunet, but I have yet to prove that she is truly spotted, because I haven’t bred for that. It doesn’t really matter, because both mother and daughter are outstanding ewes! If I cut our flock back to five or six ewes, they’d probably make the cut (on my scoring system). Again, she is set up extremely well, and I think we can get some gorgeous, improved fleeces out of these ewes with the right ram. It’s fun to experiment with different genetics!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Whispering Pines Lavender - Rich

Whispering Pines Lavender S27357
DOB 4/25/08
Sire: Sheltering Pines Cihat
Dam: Windswept Peony
This little princess is a bit of an enigma. She shares the outstanding conformation of both her mother and father, but has less spotting than either of them. I love her markings, don’t get me wrong, but I was surprised she doesn’t have more white. What she does have was something that I felt we couldn’t do without, a fabulous “look at me” conformation. I will confess, she doesn’t stand out in the pasture. She is blacker than black. She’s a true black, not shetland black! We’ve never had a true black before.
She has very little sun bleaching and she is so black, you can’t even see her eyes much of the time! I truly believe she’ll always throw lambs with more spotting than she has. I’m excited to find out! We’ll have to wait and see what type of fleece she’ll have, but I think it will be an intermediate type with a gentle, wavy crimp. Regardless, she was too nice to let go this year. She brings too much to the table in terms of spots and conformation!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

To Breed or Not to Breed - Rich

That is the question. It’s a question I often stumble around with like a drunken pirate in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

How do we pick our breeding groups? We start with an idea about the type of lambs we want, don’t we? Do we want a brown or black based lamb? Do we want patterns or spots? What about modified colors? I think we consider all of these characteristics, don’t we? Or do we merely throw caution to the wind sometimes and put a ram and a ewe together because we like both of them and think we’ll like the lambs as well? Or do we pair up the ewes with rams that we think they'll get along with the best (you know, like we do with people). I was only kidding about that last part, but the point is that we all have different reasons for why we put together certain breedign groups.

For example, as we've discussed our breeding approach this fall, we have been afraid we’re going to end up with too many black based lambs. But we have a clear plan for where we want to go, and to be honest, lamb color isn’t really high on the list of what I am after. I don’t really care whether a lamb is brown or black based. Yes, I would prefer a nice mix, but our focus remains on conformation and fleece. I came across lots of rams this year with nice characteristics. I even found a few browns that I liked a lot. But I didn’t find a brown that had everything that I wanted. I saw some darn good ones that I probably should have taken, but at this point in our program, we're after very specific things in our rams (and I won't bore you with them).

As a result, most of our ewes will go with our two mature flock sires this year once again because they both have more of what I want than any others that I came across. Cihat and Clover both have excellent conformations, nice fleeces, and either carry brown or are brown.
Clover is mioget, but doesn’t carry spots.
Cihat is black and spotted and may carry modified genetics. I don’t know about that yet. But I do know that both rams have exceptional conformations by my standard (which admittedly, might not be the same standard that everyone else uses).

Then there is Black Walnut, a ram lamb born on the farm this year. He is the closest thing we have to all around perfect! He has a perfect conformation, a lovely intermediate fleece with nice luster, and is a spot carrying katmoget. Does he carry modified genetics? Possibly. So, we are going to use him this year on a few ewes to see what he throws. I haven’t decided how many yet. So he’s kind of a hybrid between Clover and Cihat in terms of what he brings to the program.

So, what else do we need in our program? Well, this is year three of our conformation improvement plan, so if all goes well, we should have a flock of ewes with conformations that don’t make me vomit every time I walk into the barn. I’m already comfortable with where we are at with conformations, but I think we can do better. Some people might think I’m nuts to poke holes in our ewe conformations, but I have a high standard in that area. I'm not saying other people don't have as high of a standard as we do, I'm just saying that there is a very specific type of conformation that we want and we are still working hard to get that. I want people to see one of our sheep and say "hey, that looks like a Whispering Pine sheep".

And I’m not one to believe that a spotted shetland can’t have an excellent conformation and fleece as some would suggest. I think we’ve all seen examples that prove that thought process wrong. We have several in the barn that prove that incorrect. It seems to be more of a struggle with the spotted sheep, but I remain dedicated to developing excellent spotted shetlands.

So, what else do we need? We need better fleeces. I think we share that goal with just about every other shetland breeder out there. Shetlands should not have average microns above 30. I think most people would prefer something closer to 25 than 30, but that doesn’t mean everyone should strive for 20 micron sheep either. I think you can have nice fleeces in the middle of that range and be quite happy with things. In fact, we have a lot of ewes just like that, and we are quite happy with them. But it’s fun to play around with genetics, so we are beginning our fleece improvement program in earnest.

Black Walnut plays a part in that, but we brought in Leyland almost exclusively for that purpose. I’ve already blogged about him, so I won’t add much more. He is different than anything else we have. His fleece type is different, his markings are different, his conformation is different. He just looks different. I think that’s good. We aren’t going to use him heavily this fall, but I do want to see what he can throw. If he improves the fleeces on some of our ewes, we could have something. Plus, he doesn’t act like a ram. He’s very laid back. So, we’ll see. This is only year one of the fleece improvement program. If he doesn’t give us exactly what we’re looking for next spring, we’ll have some nice lambs to sell. I’ve found that a lot of people are quite happy with sheep that I’m not in love with. It’s more a matter of taste than quality. We sold some sheep this year with nice conformations, but not exactly what I like. That’s a win win situation, so I’m happy about that.

Next spring will be one more leg of the journey. Each year, I feel like our lamb crops have improved, and if that holds true again, we’ll have our nicest crop this spring. Given the planning that we put into it, I wouldn’t expect anything different. We put a lot of thought into the potential of the offspring when we put two sheep together. If we don’t see the possibility of an improvement in more than two characteristics, we don’t do it. It’s that simple. It could be an improvement in the ram, or the ewe, it doesn’t matter. We’re also getting too old to be gaining ground in two characteristics while we take a step back in one or two others. As a result, that weighs heavily in our breeding decisions. It’s okay if we don’t improve in all areas, but I really don’t want to take steps backwards.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Niagara Celtic Festival - Jen

We were invited to bring our sheep to the Niagara Celtic Festival on the shores of Lake Ontario last weekend. So we pitched our tent, set up our little mini pen for Zabrina and Daisy, (part of our "travel flock") and put out our educational materials. We met a lot of nice people, ate too much and caught up with old friends - can't ask for much more than that!

We were settled right next to the pipe & drum encampment which was fine with me!
Zabrina and Daisy were a big hit.
I was demonstrating the drop spindle

Our neighbors

Andrew the Brave

William the Great