Monday, March 30, 2009

Morning Glory - Rich

Morning Glory is an excellent moorit gulmoget ewe out of Betulina and Cihat. We don’t have micron test data on her, but she has a full fleece that feels pretty soft. I’m also wondering whether she is fawn the more I look at her. She has a redish brown color that her mother doesn’t have. The gulmogets are hard to identify because of the natural side dusting, so I continue to struggle with how they should be registered. Morning Glory was bred to Black Walnut. I’m very interested in what she produces for a number of reasons, but especially for the fact that it will be the only lamb we’ll ever get out of Black Walnut. Her lamb (if she is bred) would be one of the first second generation sheep on our farm that resulted from a conscious improvement plan. We’ve had second generation sheep on our farm, but none that originated from any genetic plan per se. When I say, second generation, I mean two Whispering Pine sheep bred to each other. In fact, I don’t recall ever breeding two Whispering Pine sheep together now that I think about it. We might have done it once or twice, but we didn’t do it to achieve any particular goal. Buttercup was a second generation Whispering Pines ewe, but she is out of a Sheltering Pines ram (as is Morning Glory). As I said in an earlier post, we tend to look at the genetic potential of the lambs when we put our breeding groups together. I could’ve easily put Morning Glory with Leyland , but that would’ve left Black Walnut out in the cold. He was too nice not to use. Given how things developed this year, I wish I would’ve sold him when we had the chance, but you can never predict how things will go. I had planned on using him on one or two more ewes, but then didn’t.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

We sheared - Jen

We sheared yesterday, 20 sheep. There were some small nicks, but nothing major. I would say most of the fleeces came off really well and are going to be fun to process. And our sheep look really good! Wool can hide a multitude of sins, but when it comes off, you really are confronted with your conformational flaws. And this is the first year when we are really happy with all our girls (and boys). We did our shots, worm and feet after the shearer left. We also obtained fiber samples for micron testing. We got a lot done, now I'm tired, but too bad! After church today I will get started with skirting.

My sister Katie took the pictures, helped bag and brought me a delectable piece of cranberry nut bread to help calm my nerves. A couple people from the fiber crafters group also came out to watch/help/get orders barked at was truly a blessing to have such competent helpers during this stressful time.

We started with Fantasia, I love her fleece and she has such a nice agreeable nature, figured she would be the best place to start.

Here is the before shot. They know something is going on. And they want to be fed. Look at violet right in the middle with the badger face. Her expression is just begging for a funny caption.

What Will would look like as a ghost. "Come into the light"

Rich's stressed out inner turmoil stance. Me barking orders to Will.

This is me sending mental messages to the shearer. "Don't cut her. Slow down. No second cuts."

We had two staged at all times so the shearer could just keep on clipping. Another reason to have really well halter broke animals.

This is Queen Anne's Lace, our only white ewe. I have a few fun dye projects planned for her lovely wool.

Man it was nice to have help. Cindy came to watch and was put to work...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Betulina - Rich

Betulina is one of our moorit gulmoget ewes. She produced Morning Glory last year and we decided to repeat the breeding to Cihat again this year. I’ve always liked the way Betulina looks. She has an excellent conformation and is the ideal size for a shetland ewe (75-80 pounds). The person who bought her fleece this year really liked it. There’s not much to dislike about her. Her fleece isn’t super dense or fine, but it’s a pretty fleece that spins up nicely. If she has a nice lamb this year, we’ll probably sell her, but we haven’t decided. It will depend largely on what kind of lambs we have this spring. I like her genetics and she’s really nice, but we can’t keep accumulating lambs and keeping all of the adults as well. Our flock is much larger than we’d like and we can’t continue adding ewes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bluebell - Rich

Bluebell is Tiara’s mioget daughter from last spring and looks a lot like her. We don’t have micron data on her, however. She was, however, the smallest lamb that we bred, so I’m always a little anxious about that, but she’s right in line with where Violet, Peony, Chiffon, and Tiara were last year at this time. They were all smallish ewes and did fine. When I say smallish, I mean dancing around the 50 pound mark at the start of breeding. Bluebell was bred to Leyland and feels quite soft, so we’re quite interested in this lamb. She doesn’t have the density that some of the other ewes have, but it’s a nice fleece.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lavender - Rich

Lavender is also a nice ewe. She is primitive like her mother, but we bred her to Leyland to try and improve her fleece. Her fleece is nice, but it lacks crimp and I have no reason to think it’ll be fine. It’s a cool looking fleece, however, and it’s extremely black. I expect her fleece will spin up nicely and make some beautiful yarn. I was hoping she would end up Shaela, but I don’t think so. We’ll see at shearing. I’ve not seen a true Shaela, so hopefully, I’ll recognize it. I’ve noticed that some people think iset is shaela. Leyland is supposed to be Shaela, but I don’t see it in him. I know his father carries the modifier, however, and throws it quite often. Once he’s sheared, I might feel differently. When all was said and done, I just felt that Leyland was the best ram to use with her. I expect a nice lamb out of her (if she’s bred). She was plenty big enough for a ewe lamb.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tiara - Rich

Tiara is another very nice ewe. She is on the small side, so it was tempting to throw her in with Leyland , but we decided to hedge our bets with Clover. She was also too nice to leave open. We hope to have a couple of nice mioget lambs out of her this year. Last year that pairing produced Bluebell, who we really like. Tiara is like Buttercup in many ways. She’s not our finest ewe, but she’s as nice as any that we have. If we were after ultra fine-fleeced lambs, we probably wouldn’t keep her, but she produces a beautiful fleece that spins up wonderfully and she’s too nice to part with right now. Part of me is second guessing the decision not to breed her to Leyland , but we really wanted to see what she and Clover produce together again. Leyland might carry the modifier, but I don’t know for sure, so there’s a lot to learn about him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Buttercup - Rich

Buttercup is one of our smaller ewes, but she is also built beautifully. I would like to replicate her several times with a better fleece. Her fleece is very dense and full, but lacks softness. It does spin up nicely, so it meets that part of our strategy. I just like her a ton. Maybe it’s because she was our first spotted ewe or maybe it’s because I stepped on her foot when she was two days old and still feel bad about it. She was fine a few hours later, but I still feel guilty about being a lumbering Sasquatch in the barn. Most lambs don’t get under your feet, but she was always naturally very friendly like her mother. Buttercup is bred to Leyland for obvious reasons. I don’t know if we’ll get a lamb with his fleece and her conformation, but it’s not impossible. His conformation isn’t too shabby either, however. He is actually maturing very nicely. Had I known he would be so nice, I probably would have gambled and bred more ewes to him. Of the ewes he was with, Buttercup is the only one that looks pregnant. It’s a bit early to make that assessment, however. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. When I stated that Cor de Nuit was one of the nicest shetland ewes I’ve seen, I should’ve mentioned that Buttercup was in the discussion as well. She might not be the prototypical sized shetland, but she’s built as well as any I’ve seen! Cor de Nuit has more width in her back legs, and is larger, but that’s the main difference in the conformation department. Buttercup actually has a better topline that Cor does! I wanted to breed her to Cihat badly, but I also wanted to try Leyland out on a few really nice ewes, so that made more sense. This was one of those breedings where I probably gave up spots for something that could be really nice! Leyland could carry spots though, so this might help to determine that. I know his father carries spots.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

4h Needle felting class - Jen

The fiber crafters met last Saturday at the Niagara county 4H building to learn about needle felting. I supplied a batt of white wool, and a small kit of 6 colors, plus a needle and with a quick lesson, the group went to town! All but one of us did a cookie cutter on foam, one talented member did a free form egg, (because I ran out of foam blocks). No serious pricks, and wonderful results. Look forward to seeing these as fair exhibits this summer!

This makes me long for June and fresh strawberries!

The free form egg. Easter is just around the corner!

Sisters working quietly, elder made a gorgeous tulip, younger made a cute owl!
K. took to it like a fish to water, she left with a cute heart!
The boys did really well, they made a decorated circle, and apple, a train and a pretty maple leaf. I made a worm for the apple, we'll see if it finds it way to the apple!

It was so nice that everyone left with a finished item. Such a pretty flower!

I love this little lamb, precious!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Queen Anne's Lace - Rich

Queen Anne’s Lace is out of a ewe from our original flock. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, she’s one of only two that we have left. Buttercup also links back to our first flock.

We’ve always liked QAL. We almost sold her as a lamb, and again as a yearling. She also has a very nice conformation. Her fleece feels very soft even though it doesn’t have a fine micron reading. We’ve liked the garments that Jen has made from it. It feels pretty soft on the skin. QAL is bred to Leyland this year (we hope). I’ve been told that a few of our more primitive ewes might be tough to improve in the fleece fineness department, so this will be interesting if she has lambs this year. She isn’t a spectacular ewe in any one area, but she is very good in all areas. She also has that delicate facial structure that we like, which I expect is the reason we haven’t sold her. Her first lamb was a pretty fawn ewe, so we’ll have to see what she does this year. Last year, she had two white ewes. I wouldn’t hate a nice fine, white ewe lamb out of her, but I’m not sure how likely that is. She also carries spots and may be spotted underneath that white coat.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Onyx Velour - Rich

Onyx Velour is my favorite ewe for sure! Does that mean she’s our nicest? Not necessarily, but I think she is most like what I’m after in a ewe in terms of the total package. First off, I really think she would do well in the show ring. She’s not as wide in the back as Cor de Nuit is, but that’s about her only flaw. Her fleece is more intermediate than single, but it’s in between. I’m very interested in what she throws this year. The good ones sometimes disappoint because their lambs don’t typically live up to them, but we’ll see. She was also bred to Cihat for some of the same reasons that I gave for Cor de Nuit. Onyx also would’ve worked with Leyland , but there was a substantial size differential and I didn’t want to risk leaving her open this year.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pyrennees Morn - Rich

Pyrenee might have the best conformation in our flock and I like the look of her fleece. I would say that she’s our largest ewe. We don’t have micron tests on her, but it’s a nice looking fleece on the hoof. She’s also quite dense. She is bred to Clover. I couldn’t really decide who to breed Pyrenee to. I felt she was too tall for Leyland and Black Walnut this year, and she isn’t a spot carrier (I don’t believe). I felt Clover got shortchanged last year, so we went with him. I expect her to have a nice lamb. Whether it will be a gulkat or not, who can say? She also has mioget in her pedigree, so that would be a bonus.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cour de Nuit - Rich

Cor de Nuit is quite simply a spectacular shetland ewe. I’ve only seen one or two that are better, to be honest. She has an excellent conformation and a very dense, crimpy, single coated fleece. Boy is that one nice fleece! I can’t wait to see how it spins up! I said that I personally prefer Sparkles fleece, but a fiber person would probably question my sanity (like most people do). She’s not our friendliest ewe, but there’s not much wrong with her that I can find. She’s also very wide in the back, which is something I value. We bred her to Cihat this year because I feel they complement each other from a structural standpoint. I could’ve used Clover on her as well and not gone wrong, but the allure of a striking spotted katmoget was too much for me, and to be honest, I think this combination will give us the best overall lamb. Who knows? Having said that, I really wanted to breed her to Leyland , but I felt he was too small. That would’ve made for an interesting lamb, but so will this one.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Violet - Rich

Violet is looking good as a two year old. I’ve always wondered what the standard meant by carriage, but now I know. She has it (whatever it is). I always characterize her as our most alert ewe. She’s not friendly, but she’s not a wild spazz either. She’s also one of our nicest overall ewes. She is bred to Leyland . So, we have our finest ewe bred to our finest ram. That was my easiest breeding decision last year. Of course, a monkey could’ve figured that one out. Her fleece is more intermediate, but has excellent density and luster. Here is roving and yarn from her lamb fleece, very soft and bouncy.

Her ram lamb from 2008, Black Walnut, looked nearly identical to her.
I felt she had one of our nicer fleeces heading into 2008 and I haven’t changed my mind about that. We have a few that I like better now, but that’s only because I really like those fleeces. There’s not much wrong with this ewe, to be honest (and I’m very critical of our sheep).