Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ewe A Day - Persia

Well, It took a while, but here is the last ewe in the annual Ewe A Day posts.

Sheltering Pines Persia is another one of my favorite ewes. She has a great fleece and excellent conformation. Overall, she ranks very high on our ewe scale. She's one that I think stands out in our flock, but at the same time, is highly improvable. She has an incredibly beautiful blue fleece. It is very nice! Her markings are also very nice, but her strength is probably her conformation.

Persia is out of Justalit'l Too Unique and Sheltering Pines Starry Night. She has some nice relatives as well. She has Bartok on both sides and is an F3 Minder.

After reviewing the entire ewe flock this year, it has become clear that it will be tough to part with any of them, which is going to make choices very difficult this spring. You always expect lambs to be better than their mother, but the reality is that it doesn't always go that way. In fact, most of the time it doesn't play out that way. I'll post breeding groups next, but all of our groups targeted fleece improvement. That was a challenge because that meant sacrificing spots and moorits. This is the first year that we really didn't breed for those things, because, quite frankly, we just didn't find the correct combination of conformation and fleece in a spotted moorit ram.

There are always constraints that you have to deal with in a breeding program, but I didn't feel like we needed to take a step back in the fleece and conformation departments just to produce flashy spots or moorit. We still hope to get plenty of both, but it wasn't a focus, and I remain convinced it was the right thing to do.

At any rate, I'm very happy with our ewe flock right now. I wouldn't necessarily say that any of them have everything, but they all bring something important in our main areas of focus.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ewe A Day - Christmas Holly

Sheltering Pines Christmas Holly is another ewe lamb that we brought in this year for a specific purpose. I didn’t initially care for her fleece, but it’s much different at the skin than at the tips. Her fall micron test confirmed my suspicion (AFD: 20.8, CV 20.3). Hopefully, that carries through to her yearling test but I never get excited about lamb micron reports. Too much can change between the fall and spring tests. This is why I use micron testing. Her fleece feels soft, but is it fine? We'll re-test her in a month or so.

So, what do I like about Holly? I like her bloodlines, for one. She’s out of Little Country Possum and Wintertime Thayu. So, she’s a granddaughter to both Wintertime Black Forrest and Sheltering Pines Pompey Magnus, two rams that I think highly of. She also has Greyling in there. I also like her structure. She’s a bit more refined than some of our ewes, but I still haven’t decided how I feel about that. I guess if I was showing, I wouldn’t want that, but I personally do like the look. I’m less concerned about that than I am fleece, and overall conformation.

Possum is a poll carrier, so Holly may or may not carry that. I think she’ll end up being a foundation ewe for years to come, but probably won’t show her real potential until next fall.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ewe A Day Broom Hilda

Sheltering Pines Broomhilda is a black F2 Jericho ewe out of Winter Sky Alafair and Wintertime Blues. She is about 70% UK. Blues is quite simply one of the nicest Shetland rams I’ve ever seen in person. I still don’t have a handle on her fleece (pun intended), however. Right now it’s about five inches long, but there is some nice crimp underneath it. So far, she looks like a winner to me. She had a nice micron test (AFD: 25.2, CV: 22.2), which is about where I thought she would be. Whether that will hold or not, I can’t say.

Hildie is quite the melting pot of genetics. She is an F3 Holly, Drum Ram, and Jamie, and an F2 Jericho.

I’m not a person who collects certain genetics for the sake of doing it, but if I can see improvement potential, I’ll sometimes take a gamble. I really didn’t need another black ewe after our experience with black lambs this past year, but the upside with this ewe is enormous! I’m looking forward to seeing how she produces with the ram I put her with. That particular line cross is what convinced me to add her to our flock in the first place. Like I said, we really didn’t need another black ewe. At least she wasn’t a grey katmoget. I certainly don’t need another one of them either.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Ewe A Day - Queen Anne's Lace

This past spring, I was looking for a white ewe with a fine, lustrous fleece. It seemed a simple enough goal. It wasn't. I was surprised at how difficult it was to find one that I liked. Either the fleece or conformation wasn't what I was after. I had seen Queen Anne's Lace at Stephen's farm before and I did like her, but Juliann had recently bought her, so I didn't think she'd be an option. Then, as I was looking into other options, I discovered that Queen Anne would be available after all. So, to make a long story short, I took her and she is better than I remembered.

She is a Bramble Nick daughter and an F3 Greyling. She also has Lightning in her pedigree and several other noteworthy rams. She has a nice conformation, but her fleece is her best feature, in my opinion. She's another one of those ewes who is nice in her own right, but who offers much in the way of future offspring. I just think she can produce some very nice lambs that fit in with our goals.

What do I like about her? I think she has a very nice shetland build. She's also a good size. She weighed in at about 90 pounds last fall, but she doesn't look that big. Last year was a good growing season, so I'll be curious what the weights look like this spring.

I don't have any other shetland fleeces like this. It's very uniform and lacy. I'll need to get some close up shots to do it justice. Her last micron test was: AFD: 29.4; CV: 17.0%. I love CV's less than 20% - especially when the entire fleece is like that, as this one is.

Anyway, lots of potential here. I have big plans for her. Thanks again to Juliann for letting us have her.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Ewe A Day - Constantinople

Sheltering Pines Constantinople is another Grey katmoget (yes another one) out of Salicional and Starry Night. She has a large amount of UK breeding in her as well as some nice bloodlines. I love this ewe's conformation. She is square and has a very nice topline. Her fleece? Very nice density and uniformity. She has a low CV and wool on the poll to boot. Not all of our ewes have that.

Her bloodline includes Holly, Justalit'l Black Lambo, North Wind Holiday, and William the Conqueror. All of those shetlands have made a significant impact on the breed.