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.