Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Violet - Rich

Pike Hill Violet (S25080, 3/07) is a grey katmoget, but displays no spotting whatsoever. I will say that she may well be carrying both the modifier and spotting genes. Violet has a very nice fleece that is quite dense. It still looks tan in spite of her black legs and markings. This is a nice fleece. Violet’s markings remain very well defined and she carries herself in a way that attracts the eye. She stands out in the pasture, which is saying something, given my obsession with spots! She is bred to our yuglet sokket katmoget White Pine (S24374). We’ll see what she throws! We’ll likely repeat that breeding next year. Violet also has a very nice conformation

Tinkerbelle - Rich

Minawae Tinkerbelle (S24923,3/07), is a very nice grey yuglet flekket HST ewe. I’ve been looking for one for a while and she is just what I had hoped for. I wanted to breed her to Cihat this year, but I felt she was too small. We weighed her just before November and she came in at about 45 pounds. I went with my gut feel here and didn’t breed her. She didn’t look that heavy to me and I felt the extra year would do her good!

Myrtle - Rich

This old girl is Lofty Pines Molly (we call her Myrtle) (S11881, 3/01). Lofty Pines? Myrtle was a ewe from our original flock in 2001. Although she is only seven, she has always been the old woman of our flock. She definitely recognizes that she has seniority out there, and expects to be fed separately from the rest of the ewes. She has a nice, medium-colored grey fleece that spins up nicely. Myrtle also had the best conformation of our starter flock, which is why she’s still here. She didn’t have lambs her first two years with us, which made me think she was infertile. I even called her infertile Myrtle. I tried to sell her cheap back in 2004, because I thought she couldn’t have lambs. Then in the spring of 2004, lo and behold, out popped a nice black ram. Then in 2005, she had a nice ewe, then a nice ram again in 2006. Do you see a pattern here? All singles! But each lamb was very nice! More importantly, the rams all had very nice horns! So, we kept her and last year she had two very nice grey lambs! Her first twins! And, sure enough, the ram had exquisite horns! She is bred to Cihat this year because he has one of the nicest conformation you’ll ever see in a Shetland! Plus she carries spots (which I didn’t know until last year). She may not have spots this year, but the lambs should be quite nice. Myrtle is also a heavy milker, so her lambs sometimes go through a bout with yellow poop, but (knock on wood), we’ve always managed to make it go away quickly. Last year wasn’t so bad, but I think it’s because she finally had two lambs to share the milk. She produces enough milk for three lambs, to be honest.

Jasmine - Jen

We elected not to breed Twin Springs Jasmine (S25784, 4/07), a moorit yuglet HST ewe. When we did our weigh in this fall, she was underweight for breeding, so she and Tinkerbelle spent breeding season in a nice cozy isolation pen with no stinky boys. Jasmine has a nice soft wavy fleece with strong markings. She has a very sweet personality that befits her impish stature and is very playful. She is good to excellent in all characteristics Rich thinks are important (Conformation, health, markings, fleece quality), and he is quite critical of our flock. She is very striking and we are looking forward to breeding her to our katmoget ram next fall!

Seraphim - Rich

Minawae Seraphim (s24924, 4/07) gives us something we don’t currently have! In addition to being an HST yuglet, she has those cool brown markings on her feet and pasterns. I like that and none of our other ewes have that. She is musket and is bred to Cihat. I thought about breeding her to our HST katmoget ram, but I’m not really looking for an ag katmoget lamb, and I may well have gotten one. I might go that way next year, however. She also has a nice look about her!

Zabrina - Rich

Bluff Country Zabrina (S19235, 4/05) is our biggest ewe (around 90 pounds). She is Shetland black. When we bought her from a picture, we were told that she was shaela, but I was skeptical. I’m not an expert on sheep color, but she looks black to me. She has a nice conformation and is quite square. She’s not our friendliest ewe, but sometimes it takes a while with a new sheep. I believe she is spotted, but I know she has had spotted lambs in the past. She is bred to White Pine (S24374). I still don’t have a good feel for her fleece. It feels soft, but I don’t think it is as uniform as one would like. It’s tough because she came from an area of the country that was hit by drought pretty hard and they were having a hay shortage. She was on the thin side when we got her and I think her fleece isn’t what it will be next year. I think she has really filled out nicely since we've gotten her! I don’t know what to expect in her lambs, but I’m looking forward to it! White Pine is a very nice ram and we don’t know what he’ll produce either!

HST - Jen

Rich refers to HST a lot when he describes our sheep. HST means the sheep has markings on its head, socks and tail. HST can be expressed in varying degrees, perhaps a ewe only has three socks and one solid leg, or just the very tip of the tail is a contrasting color. HST is nice to have because you get markings that make the animal stand out, but you also get a nice uniform color fleece for spinning. Kind of a best of both worlds. That said, spotted bodies also spin up nicely, with a pleasing variegated appearance. The best way to breed for HST lambs is to have HST parents. It is possible to routinely get HST lambs but you need to breed for it. HST is not a NASSA approved marking, but many shetland breeders use the term to describe the occurance.
The photo above is a nice lineup of a few of our ewes that exhibit HST markings. From the left are Fantasia, Peony, Buttercup, Rose and Southern Belle.

Fantasia - Rich

This is V Creek Fantasia (S24580, 4/07), who I just love to death! She has an excellent conformation, and a nice soft, light-grey katmoget fleece. She has a nice body length and a wider base than most of our ewes. She is bred to Cihat because I’m hoping to get a yuglet katmoget ram lamb that exhibits her wide base along with Cihat’s longer staple length. Hey, it could happen! She is also a sokket, but I prefer more white on her legs. Some would not call her sokket, however, but bottom line, she can have sokket lambs, which is what I’m after. I probably should have bred her to our yuglet katmoget sokket ram, White Pine, but I want a yuglet katmoget son from Cihat!

Betulina - Rich

This gulmoget ewe is Under the Sun Betulina (S24627 born 3/07). Betulina is a moorit gulmoget with a very nice fleece with some crimp. I’ve nicknamed her beauty because she is very beautiful. She just looks nice out there. She has quickly become one of my favorites. She is bred to Cihat (S17465). I don’t expect a spotted lamb here, but I would be excited about a gulmoget carrying Cihat’s spots. I could see keeping a lamb like that! At any rate, she should have a beautiful lamb. I’ll more than likely repeat the same breeding next year, regardless of what we get in 2008.

What a sweet face!

Chiffon - Rich

We've decided to do a series of blogs that feature our breeding stock for 2008. We bred 16 ewes to 3 rams this year. The first one I'm going to write about is Underhill Chiffon (S24888 born 3/07). She is an emsket gulmoget ewe. Underhill Chiffon is extremely pretty. She is registered as Shaela, but she looks emsket to me. She is much lighter than our Dahlia, our black gulmoget. Chiffon is bred to our mioget gulmoget (Clover S24963), so I think we have a good chance at getting a modified gulmoget from that breeding. There’s also a chance the lamb could be homozygous for the gulmoget pattern, which would also be cool! We won’t be getting spots from this cross, however. Rats!

Looks like she lost the snowball fight...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Children's Christmas Service - jen

I work on our church's annual children's Christmas Service with the other Sunday school teachers every year. We try to teach them a new Christmas carol each year, they do readings, sing and at the end we do a nativity tableau.This year Amy's class did a skit at the start of the program, about Isaiah. Will was very convincing as the prophet. I hear from Amy that during Sunday school Will gets loads of feminine attention and teasing, since he is the only boy in his class. They love him.

Stuff I made 3 - jen

Rich bought me a knitting pattern book for Christmas and it had a really easy 4 needle mitten pattern in it, so I went nuts, these are made from Buttercup, our Moorit ewe with white markings. Still need to clean up the loose yarn bits, but that requires sewing, so of course that task will be put off until absolutely necessary.This is a pretty skein of yarn from white wool I dyed using Cushing dyes, purple it is I think. I have no idea what I will do with it, perhaps wait until I finish up the other colors I dyed and make some fun socks or else use it on my table top loom that I still have to figure out how to use...

I made this pillow for Shari for Christmas gift, we draw names at the Johnson's. Anyways, it was way bigger than I thought it was going to be. Note to self, must brush up on my measuring skills. Anyways, the wool came from Black Eyed Susan and Myrtle. The pattern is from "A Handmade Christmas" book.

Hallelujah! - Jen

Another project I worked on over the holidays was a Messiah Singalong. I've always wanted to attend one, but they are always so far away and I hate driving in winter, so I decided to put one on in Middleport. I got permission to use my church on a Saturday afternoon, we had David Bondreau from Lockport chorale direct it, I played my keyboard set to strings/harpsichord/trumpet for the recitatives and arias, and then I had prerecorded the choruses on the keyboard so I could sing along. We did the first section, and I think everyone had a lot of fun.

I had put something in the local papers, send a letter to all area churches and called all the musicians I know to spread the word. As a result, we had 30 singers show up and 20 or so spectators. And all sections were represented. I think next year we will do it earlier in the season so that more musicians can make it, a lot of people were involved in performances that weekend and weren't able to attend. Oh, and the best part was Mom and Katie were both singing at it too, so that was v. cool.

Snow - Jen

I came home one Saturday afternoon in December to this sad scene. Andrew was lying in wait for me to get home. There he was, slain in some fantasy Lord of the Rings battle, partially buried and memorialized with his two ninja swords. I don't know where they come up with this stuff...

Drop Spindle Class - Jen

I am going through my photos from December, things got so hectic, I didn't have time to blog, so I am taking you back through a slight time warp. I should be caught up in about a week. A lot happened in December!

Anyways, I taught a drop spindle class at our Niagara County 4H center to a really diverse and enthusiastic group of fiber enthusiasts. Some had fiber animals, some liked to knit/crochet, some had experience with needle felting. It was interesting to go around the table and find out what drew them to the class. Anyways, I used the kit with the cd's and the dowel, gave them a quick lesson and some fiber and they were off! Everyone got the hang of it after a couple hours. The first hour was pretty quiet and tension was pretty thick as I went around the room and tried to help each person individually. After a while people started getting it and there was more laughing and shouts of "I think I've got it!!!". I have to schedule another class so we can all share our progress and learn plying...

Halloween - Jen

I just found these pictures of Will from Halloween and had to post them. Will was a zombie guy that was killed with a sword to the back. He was all rotting skin, maggots and blood. We had a nice time walking through the village of Middleport, trick or treating. Rich got to wear his warewolf mask, I was a witch, Andrew wore a sign and will was the zombie. This was the first year Andrew went off with friends, but he ended up regretting it cause Will covered more ground with us and got a lot more candy. At the end of the night we went to the fire hall for cider and donuts and Will was in the costume contest. He didn't win this year, but he has one more year to go.