Friday, March 19, 2010

Bond's Group

Yesterday I posted information about Blue's Clues' breeding group, so today it's Bond's turn. Grab some coffee because this is long.

I liked Bond as a lamb and still do. His mother is V Creek Sarah and I’ve never seen her in person, but I hear she is nice. She is fine, carries polled, has nice bloodlines, and is a grey katmoget. That’s what I know. Bond’s father is Lil’Country Nightcap, who I have seen in person and like a great deal. Nightcap’s yearling AFD was 21.1 microns, which is outstanding. Bond is also a Sheltering Pines Pompey Magnus grandson. Why is this relevant? It’s not really. I just like that ram a lot. His three year old AFD was 25.7 microns. Those are just numbers, but I like shetlands who can reproduce that. Anyway, my point is that Bond comes from good genetics and has fineness in his pedigree on both sides. When you can combine structure and fleece characteristics in one sheep, you have something. Here we have three generations (son, father, grandfather) of fineness and structure. You could probably extend that back one more generation, but I’ve never seen his great grandfather in person. I know he produced well, however (Bombarde, Salicional, etc.).

Genetics aside, what do I like about Bond, and what does he bring to the table? He has nice density, fineness, and consistency on top of what looks to be a great conformation. He was a knockout as a lamb! I’m always somewhat reserved when I talk about ram lambs because they grow so much in that second summer. I do think he will mature out as a stunning ram, however. He has great legs!

Bond is one of those rams who I expect to have a strong impact on our flock. In three years, I expect to look back and be impressed with what he did for us. You never know, however. He has too many ewes to mention in detail, but I’ll comment on a few:

Wintertime Itasca. I love her fleece. We could get something quite remarkable here. Sure, they will most likely be either black or katmogets, but they should be nice. Both of these sheep are a cut above in my mind. It probably depends on what you like, however. Itasca’s fleece is very crimpy and looks to be a little short, but his has a nice length. I think I could’ve put her with Blue’s Clues as well. Itasca is out of Whistlestop 0427 (Blues’ and Jazz’ mother), and Wintertime Landslide. That makes Itasca a half sister to those spectacular rams. I don’t know all that much about Landslide.

Whispering Pines Jasmine and Dahlia. These two are nearly identical. I like both of them, but I don’t know what to expect here. Sure, they’ll be grey katmoget lambs, but I just don’t know what else to expect. I just felt Bond was the best fit for what they have/lack. This is also a good test to see whether Bond has spots or not.

Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit. She was actually put in with Bond as a backup, but I think he bred her. This was a no brainer for me. She has one of our nicest fleeces and carries polled. I would expect her to have some of our nicest lambs when all is said and done. Yes, more grey katmogets. All I can say for sure is that she is bred. Her micron is 28ish with an 18% CV. Not bad for a four year old. I really hope she gives us ewes as nice as the rams she had last year. All of her lambs so far have been knockouts. Cor has a fabulous pedigree (Bramble Dixen, Thelonious Monk, Justalit’l Lana, etc.). By all accounts, Dixen was an amazing polled ram. She’s a third generation of amazing fleeces. All I know for sure is that if I was going to a show, and could only take one sheep with me, she'd be the one.

Whispering Pines Primrose. Another spotted ewe. I think she could have a really nice lamb out of Bond. They are both nice, but he complements her pretty well. I’d really like a moorit here. She went in late with him, so I don’t expect anything until late April. Will the lamb be spotted? I’m not counting on it, but one can hope. I still like her fleece as a two year old. It has a nice lock structure and handle. It has a bolder crimp, however, which is something he can help her with. So, we could get something pretty nice here. I don’t have new micron results on her but I would anticipate 29ish with a 25% CV. Hopefully better. It feels better than that.

Morning Glory. An excellent ewe that needs to be finer. It’s really pretty simple. She’s not coarse, but she’s not as fine as she needs to be. Her fleece is pretty typical of a NA Shetland. Pretty good lock structure and about six inches long. We think Bond can improve her fleece, that’s really the whole deal here. I like this ewe a lot, so we’re hoping for nice lambs. Her parents were both nice, which always influences my decision process.

Whispering Pines Cosmos. Onyx’s daughter has great potential. She’s really a nice ewe and her fleece is more like Morning Glory’s. They are virtually identical. I would characterize both as double-coated, but the length is not extreme. So, I don’t know what to expect here either. She’s not as level as Morning Glory, but her parents are, and Bond looks pretty good in that area right now as well. These two ewes are probably the nicest Cihat daughters that we kept. Cihat was a Darius son, and virtually a carbon copy in many ways. Cihat’s fleece was much nicer, however. So, I’m looking to pull some of that out of his daughters. It’s a crapshoot, however. There is some strong double-coating in the pedigree, which I don’t have an issue with, but can I make them finer though in one generation? I really don’t know. That’s what makes this fun. It’s a goal. Cosmos is another one who was in Crimson Autumn’s group for one cycle, so she’ll lamb late. Better late than never.

S’more Sparkles. I love this F2 Orion! Great density and silkiness. Just a great fleece. I’d like to shave a few microns off of it, but that’s about the only thing we need out of her. Her son last year was very nice. Sparkles has a very full fleece with good length. It’s about as long as I like in a Shetland fleece, but it spins like a dream. I’m not sure how well this year’s fleece will spin. It’s not as fine, but it still handles well. I think she’ll micron in the high 20’s, but should have a decent CV. Even though her fleece might test similar to Primrose’s, it’s a much different fleece. It’s much denser with less tip.

Sparkles is probably our prettiest ewe as well. Her head, body, and markings are pretty remarkable.

Whispering Pines Irish Lace. She is a Black Forrest granddaughter out of Firth of Fifth Leyland and Whispering Pines Buttercup. She is a product of our attempt at combining the best of her parents. She is an improvement on both in many areas, but she isn’t built as nicely as her mother. It’s very hard to get the best of both parents. It almost never goes that way. All of Leyland’s lambs had interesting lock structures. All had more tip than we’re used to. Her fleece is more typical of the NA shetlands that I’ve seen. Those Leyland lambs were all cool, mind you, just different. We really didn’t have a strong opinion on the fleeces one way or the other. They handled fine, which is all we cared about. Irish doesn’t look bred, but she would be late anyway. She and Primrose will probably be last. Anyway, I like the idea of combining the Black Forrest line with the Pompey Magnus offspring. I like the way her fleece handles, but it’s longer than I prefer. I think she’ll have nice lambs, however.

Sheltering Pines Christmas Holly. A nice ewe that is the result of the same line cross I just referred to. I still don’t understand her fleece completely. I’ll have to look closer after shearing. I would call it double-coated, but the inner portion is very fine and crimpy. This is a straight line breeding on Pompey Magnus, however. We’re breeding a Pompey Magnus grandson to a granddaughter. She is fine and consistent, and so is he. I don’t often breed this closely, but breeders of other animals (like horses) often do, and I don’t feel all that uncomfortable doing it once in a while. Her last micron test was: AFD: 20.8/ CV: 20.3. Again both of her parents tested quite low as yearlings.

Sheltering Pines Broom Hilda. A nice ewe with great genetics. As a black ewe, she is not as nice as Itasca, but her fleece does have a nice handle. She’s out of Wintertime Blues, but she didn’t inherit his fleece type. Given her bloodlines, I think she could have something really nice out of Bond, but who knows. Her fleece is also crimpy underneath. I don’t care for it as much as Holly’s, but there’s really nothing wrong with it either. It’s just not my type.

So, I talked about more ewes than I should have, but there are some interesting breedings here. Most probably won’t pan out like I had hoped, but I would be shocked if we don’t get some really outstanding lambs here. I’m only asking for three or four really nice ewe lambs! We’re looking for improvement in most cases, although there are several that I would like to clone. If we get duplicates, we’ll probably sell the mothers. You never really know where the nicest lambs will come from. They might come from some of the ewes I haven’t even mentioned. That’s happened before.

Last year, we ended up with really nice lambs even though we didn’t keep all of them. That’s the way it works on our farm. We have to keep a cap on our numbers, so some nice sheep are always for sale. Some are lambs, and some are adults. I really can’t say who they will be at this point. I like all of them. It really does depend on what the lambs are like. Last year, our nicest lambs were rams. If they had been ewes, the choices would have been very difficult.

The one thing I’ve decided is that the choices really need to come down to quality, rather than patterns, markings, or color. If you start chasing those things, you’ll end up with cool looking sheep, but how good will they be? It took me a while to wake up to that fact. Of course, it has led me to a lamb crop that will be 80% grey katmogets, so maybe I need to rethink that. The choices will be tough enough as it is. Do I really want a flock that consists of mostly grey katmogets?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blue’s Clues Group

This group is really about one thing – fleece. All of the ewes in his group have excellent (or very good) conformations, but they don’t have his fleece. I like their fleeces as well, but he has what I would call my gold standard. His father was like that as well. Overall, his father (Blues) remains one of the nicest Shetland rams I have personally seen. He’s probably as close to my ideal as it gets. I hear his brother Jazz is just as nice, but I’ve never seen him in person.
As a result, I’m hoping for the following from this group:

Lock structure. I haven’t paid a great deal of attention to this until this year. It’s an undervalued characteristic, however. It directly impacts how well your sheep meet the standard because it translates into how open or closed your fleece is. In functional terms, it impacts how well the sheep shed the weather. I think density plays a bigger role, but both are important.

Density. All of these ewes have excellent density, but I wanted to ensure that we maintained that in their lambs. We value density a great deal. To me, it’s like wearing a windbreaker vs. a winter coat in January. That’s not a great idea where we live.

Consistency. This is reflected in both the uniformity from head to britch, and the standard deviation of the fibers themselves. This ram has both. His CV was 18% and it looks that way from his neck to his britch.

Fine crimp. I love fine crimp and don’t care much for the bolder style. I also don’t like the straight fibers because they don’t meet the standard. It is possible to have double-coated sheep with straight outer fibers, and a fine crimpy under coat, but that’s not against the standard. But it’s not what I like in a Shetland fleece. I’ve seen both single and double-coated fleeces that have the type of crimp that I like, but his matches my preference exactly. As I’m writing this, I’m wondering why I didn’t put more ewes under him.

Fineness. Blue’s Clues is a fine-fleeced ram, but most lambs are. The trick is projecting their yearling micron results out to where you think they will be as three year olds. I usually add about two microns a year to the lamb micron results in my projections. It’s difficult, however, because some fleeces are hard to project. Fleeces like his often go down between the first and second years, but most are not like that. Anyway, without getting into a thesis on fleece genetics, I feel that his projects well, but I would have liked a lower AFD for his age. Not a big deal for me since his CV is so low. His spinning fineness is a very nice 23.2 microns, which is a function of the CV. To make a long story short, if all of his lambs had his fleece, I would be doing reverse handsprings up and down our street. He is that good (I can’t even do a handspring, reverse or forward).

Color. I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on color and pattern this year. That should be obvious because what idiot would breed all of his ewes to grey katmogets? I mean, who does that? But that blue-grey katmoget fleece is to die for, and I feel fortunate that both of our rams have it this year. I like it better than emsket, but that’s just me. I have no idea what an emsket katmoget fleece would look like.

The following is a short discussion of what I expect from each of his ewes. Keep in mind, I am very very critical:

Pike Hill Violet. This ewe has about everything one could want except his color, consistency, and uniformity. She has good uniformity, but her CV is not as low as I like (around 25%). She also lacks the blue-grey color, but that’s not a big deal (or is it). I really liked her as a two year old last year.

Sheltering Pines Onyx Velour. I don’t have many complaints about this ewe either. She is a little longer bodied than Violet, but her fleece isn’t as nice. Again her CV is around 25%, but I don’t feel that her density is quite as good as Violet's. She could also stand to be more uniform. She has a bit more britch wool than I like. But this is one great looking ewe though. Obviously, I want to make a good fleece better here and improve her overall fineness and lock structure. Would I like a spotted gulkat here? Yes, but that’s secondary and not the reason I put her with this group.

Sheltering Pines Constantinople. I think this ewe is on par with Onyx and Violet in the conformation department, and I like her fleece a lot as well. She’s shorter stapled than the other two, but wasn’t as fine as a yearling. So, obviously, Blue’s Clues could improve that. But don’t get me wrong, she is a very high quality ewe in just about every way. She has some wool on the poll to boot! She carries spots and her mother carries the polled ram gene. I would have put her with Bond if not for the size difference. Constantinople is a pretty leggy ewe. I also like that in a Shetland. She, Persia, and Onyx are very elegant looking ewes for that reason. I don’t like short legged shetlands. Some of the UK rams are shorter in leg. It depends on the bloodlines. There’s probably some ratio involving body length and height, but I haven’t found it yet. I know what I like, but I wouldn’t apply that to the entire breed. If anyone knows of good guidelines around that, I’d love to hear from you. I know there are guidelines for body-to-leg height.

Sheltering Pines Pyrenee’s Morn. This is another really nice ewe with a very dense fleece. She has the best density of the four ewes here. She also has an ultra low CV (around 18%). She had two very nice ram lambs last year that also possessed great density. It’s a longish fleece with a nice blue-grey color as well; pretty uniform from front to back. There is great potential with this breeding.

So, that’s Blue’s Clues’ group. We’ll likely get all grey katmoget lambs here. That’s what I’m expecting, and surely some of them will be homozygous kats at that. I like having double-patterned shetlands.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Breeding Groups

Let me apologize in advance for the way this is going to come out, but I lost the source files for the pictures and didn't know how to make picture files out of a word document. Hopefully, these jpeg's will do the job.

Now that lambing season is upon us, I thought I would finally get around to posting the breeding groups that I planned last November. As always, there were some last minute changes. We put Crimson Autumn in with a group, but I'm not at all optimistic that he bred any of them. As a result, we cut his group short and put all of his ewes in with Bond. Crimson was just too small for this breeding season. A shame? Yes, but his loss (and ours) is Bond's gain.

Sheltering Pines Blues Clues

Blues Clues is an amazing ram out of Wintertime Blues and Wintersky Alafair. I like his parents a great deal, which always puts me in a difficult position when it comes to buying their offspring. I never want to do it, but when you see good bloodlines pay off with a ram like this, it's very difficult to say no. You all know what I mean.

So, what do I like about this guy? Almost everything, but his fleece was the real draw. If the pictures come through, hopefully you'll get a feel for what I mean. He has a fantastic lock structure; almost like lace. And it's the deepest blue-grey color! I'm a sucker for that color in a nice fleece. Crimp? He has it. Very fine! His micron was a bit of a disappointment. But it's a good example of why having low CV fleeces is so important. They have a nice handle and they feel finer than they sometimes are. His numbers were: AFD: 24,4/CV: 18.2. Nice, but the average is nothing spectacular. But his uniformity is something special. He looks virtually the same from neck to britch. I've never seen that before in a shetland. Rarely anyway. So, if I can get uniformity, color, crimp, density, lock structure, and low CV in one animal, I'll take it every day of the week and twice on Saturday (no work on Sunday, of course).

And that's not to mention his bloodlines. That also contributes a great deal to my thought process. It fits in with the genetic puzzle I'm assembling. He was a good addition.

Fleece pictures:

We bred the following ewes to him:

Onyx Velour



Pyrenees Morn

All are top notch ewes, but if I could add his fleece to them, I think I would call it a successful lambing season!

Wintertime Bond

Bond is pictured above next to the parted Blue's Clues fleece picture. He is a pretty spectacular shetland! Overall, I think he is a better ram than Blue's Clues, but that's just my opinion. His fleece has a different lock structure, but it is finer than Blue's Clues'. Here are some pictures for comparision.

Bond's Fleece:

He's a handsome boy isn't he? And yes, he is a full poll. We've never bred with a full poll, but I like this guy. He too has that magnificent blue-grey fleece that I like so much! He's not quite as uniform from head to tail as Blue's Clues, but that's something to work on over time. Great density as well. How fine is he? Pretty fine so far. His numbers were: AFD: 20.2/ CV: 20.5! Not too shabby. I like 20/20 in a lamb! Especially one that is this nice! His father and mother also had very low numbers, which isn't a foolproof indicator of how he will turn out, but I like it nonetheless!

His ewes were (everyone else):
Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit

Sheltering Pines Queen Anne's Lace

Sheltering Pines Persia

Wintertime Itasca

Sheltering Pines Broom Hilda

Sheltering Pines Christmas Holly

Whispering Pines Morning Glory

Whispering Piness Jasmine

Whispering Pines Dahlia

Whispering Pines Tiger Lilly

Whispering Pines Cosmos

Under The Son Tiara

S'more Sparkles

Whispering Pines Irish Lace

Whispering Pines Primrose

Bond was busy as a beaver last fall. It's hard to say how many are actually bred. As I said, some got put in with him rather late. I'll post the rationale behind this group later this week. Believe it or not, I don't use a random number generator to pick groups. It just seems like it.

Having said all of this, I think one things pretty clear - if Bond doesn't carry spots, I'm pretty much screwed in the spotted lamb department. It would actually be a bonus if he did. I wasn't counting on it when I brought him in.
Whispering Pines Captain Kidd

A stupid name? Yes. I had a pirate theme in mind at one point last year. Kidd was one of our nicest lambs last spring out of Cihat and Cor de Nuit. He has excellent structure and fleece density. It's a crimpy fleece as well, just not fine. But for a spotted shetland, I'm pretty happy with him overall. He's also a half poll. So, I like him a great deal, but he wasn't fine enough to use extensively. His only ewe was V Creek Fantasia. I'm hoping for a nice ewe out of that breeding. At the end of the day, I would have liked to put Fantasia under Bond, but Kidd was too nice to not use.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fiber group - Jen

Had our next to last fiber group meeting on Saturday, we had it at the Lockport Historical Society. Very nice turnout, great work, and pleasant conversation for a cruddy, cold, rainy Saturday morning.

Our sole 4her made his niddy noddy from pvc pipe to complete his collection of spinning supplies for his exhibit at the fair this summer.
We had a little show and tell, Rhonda brought her natural dyed skein, and also brought her albatross of a roving that she's been spinning on her cd spindle.

Then we all dug into a needle felting project which everyone seemed to enjoy, lots of creativity!!!

Our next (last) meeting is April 17th at my house, we'll go over fleece preparation and will play with dyes. Should be a lot of fun!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Flock hat - Jen

I just finished this hat the other day, it's pretty cool because its made of samples of wool from all the sheep in our flock. We did some sampling in the fall for micron testing, and i washed, carded and spun up the individual locks, spun them in the lock and did a quick ply job. Then used my v. simple brimless cap pattern, size 6 circ. needles, cast on 90, 2 inches for the brim, 4 inches for the hat, then decreases. Easy peasy! I'm posting it to my etsy shop and hope it sells, I'm saving up to send some wool I was given out to process into roving to make into rugs.

Can't wait for shearing, we are going to have wonderful fleeces this year!