Monday, January 31, 2011

Two different skeins

This is a photo of two skeins of yarn that were wrapped on the same niddy noddy. The grey one is from our very fine (low 20's) and crimpy ram, Bond. The teal one is from the britch wool of Captain Kidd, his britch wool was long and wavy, with little crimp, and is coarse, somewhere in the low 30 microns.

I washed the skeins and hung them to dry in the exact same fashion, with no weights. Notice how Bond's yarn is so much shorter? I thought this was a good illustration of how finer/crimpier fibers have so much more elasticity than the wavier, less crimpy fiber. The grey skein will stretch to the length of the teal one, but then bounces right back to its natural length.

Both have their applications. Bond's wool will be used for a very nice hat for Rich. The remainder of his fleece has not been spun, and I will spin it very fine for a lace scarf. I deliberately spun it thicker, but the whole time the fiber was fighting me, screaming to be spun gossamer thin. So I will succumb and spin the balance of the fleece as fine as a spider web. Can't wait.

The teal yarn is for either more market bags, or else I will use it on a weaving project - placemats or table runners or something, once I figure out how to weave. But definately not for anything requiring next to skin softness or any elasticity (socks/mittens/hats).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Little Buckaroo

Here is a very promising fawn katmoget ram out of Persia and Todhill Jericho. When we elected to do AI last fall, I had hoped for two nice ewe lambs out of Persia. What I didn’t think I would get, however, is a scurred, moorit-based ram lamb! I was looking at the database, and only located two moorit-based lambs out of Jericho. I think Buckaroo is the only poll carrying ram. He’s the only scurred Jericho ram lamb that I’m aware of anyway. Which means Persia is a poll carrier (information I did not have when we brought her in). I did know that both Persia and Jericho carried moorit, but I just didn’t expect to pull that out of them. Anyway, we did, and I’m excited to see how he will produce.

I’ve liked this guy from birth! He is just solid, with an awesome set of legs. The spacing is excellent! I also love his fleece! It’s very uniform and crimpy, and has a wonderful handle! It really is as uniform as it looks in the picture. He has the lowest standard deviation of any Shetland we have ever had (3.7 microns). I have seen that type of consistency from other Jericho offspring, so perhaps that is a characteristic of that line. His fall micron test average was also in the low 20's. I don't generally put very much stock in fall micron tests on lambs, but at least it gives us an idea about where the fleeces might head. And, to be honest, I wasn't expecting a super fine lamb when we selected this breeding pair. I was expecting incremental improvement over his mother, while reinforcing some attributes that we really like. I think we achieved that. His mother is really nice, however, so it was difficult to project exactly what we expected to get. I think that's how it is when you cross bloodlines with which you lack experience. You can feel pretty good about the odds of getting something really nice, but you don't know exactly what it will be.

It’s tough to fully evaluate rams at such a young age, but I think Bucky is going to be a good one. Will his conformation end up being as nice as Pompey’s? It’s hard to say, but I like his leg set better already. Quite frankly, his legs are the nicest we've had in a Shetland. The only ram I've seen with nicer legs would probably be Theresa Gygi's "Apache". His potential to improve our flock is too great to get caught up on the negatives. To be honest, we don’t have another ram with some of his important attributes. We may never have again. Who knows? He is another sheep with a fleece that you just want to sink your fingers into.

Buckaroo is 68.75% UK.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pompey Magnus

Here’s a polled fawn katmoget ram who I like a lot.
I actually purchased him last year, but we just picked him up recently. I just thought he was a ram that could help us. When I started looking at moorit-based rams, he was at the top of my list. I just haven’t seen many moorit rams with his combination of goodies. I really wanted to jump start our polled program, and needed a polled ram who could move us along. I like Bond a great deal, so I really didn’t need to look far before I found a ram that could do the job. Why not his grandfather? I mean, if Bond could be produced in just two generations, couldn’t I create something special with the ewes that we have here? I think so.
I brought him in because I felt his father, William The Conqueror, produced exceptionally well. Sheltering Pines Salicional and Bombarde are also top quality offspring from that ram, and they have produced exceptionally well. More importantly, I like how so many of Pompey’s lambs have looked. He is a producer.
What do I like about him? Well, he has a wonderful fleece and conformation, and is brown-based. I targeted him for our program for all of those reasons. Sure, it would be nice if he wasn’t a katmoget, but what can you do? If you want quality lambs, you need quality sheep. I think this guy is one of the nicest polled rams in the country, quite frankly. If you look at his proportions, legs, body length, etc., it’s all top notch in my book. He is 43.75% UK for anyone who cares about those things, which, quite frankly, I don’t...all that much.
He will allow us to continue our fleece improvement program without compromising conformation. He doesn’t carry spots, however. Oh well. He will get ewes that I think will benefit from his many qualities. I really should put all of my ewes with him this fall, but I just can’t do that. I have so much I want to accomplish with our flock, and he is but a piece of that puzzle.
I have to thank Juliann Budde for selling him to us. He has helped her a lot over the years, and I hope I don’t let her down with how we use him. I feel a lot of pressure to use this ram correctly. I have a vision for what we want here on the farm, and that’s why he is here. I often feel like you have to pick and choose between fleece properties and conformation when choosing a Shetland ram. I don’t have to do that with Pompey. His fleece has nice density, deep color, luster, and his three year old micron test was 25.7 with a sub 20% CV. His four year old test went up a bit, but maintained the low CV and other properties. Judging by feel, I’d say his five year old test will be somewhere in between.

Anyway, I think Pompey will move us a step in the right direction and we are happy we have the opportunity to use him.

Friday, January 7, 2011


And last but not least is Siobhan, which I guess is an irish name, but I had no hand in naming her. She was born on St. Patrick's Day. This one is a bit of a long story, but, for us, it was worth the research and hard work.

Okay, we went looking for a white ewe last spring with the intent on producing an exceptional white ewe lamb that we could AI. That was the plan. The next step was to find one. It turned out to be tough, but we did find Queen Anne’s Lace, who ended up being just what we needed (thanks Juliann). I've seen a few white ewes that I've liked a lot, but they weren't available when we were looking. That's probably a good thing, because the longer we've owned Queen Anne, the more we like her. Plus, she sheared like butter, so that's a nice thing as well!
The next step was to find an AI ram that we liked. To be honest, I’m not in love with a lot of the ram’s that were imported. First, I considered Heatheram Lightning, primarily because he was white and we wanted to improve the odds of getting that in a lamb. Ultimately, we decided on Heights Orion, who I liked a lot better. I like Jericho better, but I wanted to stay away from grey katmoget rams, since, you know, we were already using two of them last year. Plus, I knew from talking with people that the odds of getting a good Orion lamb increased substantially with the use of a good ewe. There was really no point in investing in AI unless we were very confident in the choice of ewes. Queen Anne wasn't our best ewe, so it was a risky venture, but her fleece had certain properties that we were looking to reproduce, so it made sense. There were some other reasons as well, but I won't bore you anymore than I already have. The point is that Queen Anne had some wonderful traits, and if we did no better than to reproduce her, we would've been in good shape. We did better than that, however!
Anyway, we are quite happy with this lamb. Her fleece is so dense and uniform and she has a knockout conformation! She is about as good as we could've hoped for. Plus, she carries moorit from her father and gives us the option of getting black, moorit, or white. Those are all bonuses, but we'll take whatever good fortune comes our way.
I don’t have any gripes about Siobhan! I think she’s a pretty amazing F1 Orion (72% UK). I want to copy her fleece as many times as I can, and at the same time, attempt to shave a micron or two off of it. I’ve found it very difficult to get extra fine fleeces with great density, luster, and length. It’s a balancing act that we may never achieve, but if we can’t, I want all of our sheep to look and feel like this one.
Siobhan is also in the mix for nicest shetlands we've ever had here. It's difficult to compare lambs since they all grow at such different rates, but she has a great frame already. Given that she's older than the other ewe lambs, we'll have to wait a year to really compare, but her conformation is top notch. When we did AI last fall (on a very limited basis), my goal was to reproduce Queen Anne's unbelievable fleece consistency and softness, while improving on her overall conformation (which is actually pretty darn nice already). We weren't looking for spots, a poll carrier, or moorit, however, we merely envisioned combining some cool blood lines to get something really white. Mission accomplished!
Again, none of our sheep are perfect, but I really like this one!

Blue Sapphire

We had a specific vision in mind when we put Onyx with Blue’s Clues last fall. We were looking for spots, but wanted to improve her fleece uniformity. This girl has turned out to be our favorite Blue’s Clues lamb this year! She has pretty much everything I could want. An awesome fleece, conformation, tail, etc. You can take everything I posted about Blue diamond and repeat it here, except that I like this one’s fleece a little better. I think it’s closer to her dad’s than anyone else’s! She's a tough one to photograph, however, but this is the best I could do. I don't have a single good picture of her, and I literally snapped this one today.

In terms of markings, she is a spotted grey katmoget, but she may also be a gulmoget as well. Until I breed, I won’t know. Just like Blue Diamond, she has a lot of white on her, which, in this case, made it impossible to label her completely. And, of course, who likes to be labeled anyway?

This girl is 61% UK. Over the past few years, our UK content has increased in our flock, but that’s not part of an intentional strategy. It’s just turned out that most of the sheep I like tend to have that high of a percentage. That may not always be the case in the future. It’s just something that I’ve noticed. She is an F3 Jericho, for what it's worth.
I've also noticed over the past few years, that I like a lot of the Jericho offspring. I know he has a lot of grey katmoget relatives in North America, but some of the nicest shetlands I've laid my hands on had their blood lines directly traceable to him. We don't have a lot of Jericho blood lines in our flock, but we do have a few nice ewes now that are F3's.
Anyhoo, in my opinion, Blue Sapphire is the nicest shetland we've ever owned. I like Blue Diamond's conformation a little better, so she is close behind, but this one is special!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blue Diamond

I liked this fawn katmoget from the moment she hit the ground. Her fleece is dense and soft! I love her conformation as well. She has a nice long body with nice leg length.

In terms of genetics, if you follow our blog at all, you know that we were quite high on Sheltering Pines Blue’s Clues, this lamb’s father. He had a spectacular fleece that I really looked forward to reproducing in his lambs. Her fleece won’t be like his, but it’s very nice. Blue’s Clues was a Wintertime Blues son, and a Todhill Jericho grandson, which makes this lamb an F3 Jericho and 55% UK. Her mother is Sheltering Pines Constantinople, who has an excellent conformation and overall Shetland type. I would say that this lamb captured the best parts of each parent, to some extent.
Here is a picture of her parted fleece. Nice length, crimp, and luster! It's very soft as well! It's a fleece that you just want to sink your fingers into. You know the type.

So, this lambing was the result of some genetic lines that I think a lot of (if you haven’t gathered that from some of my earlier posts). Anyway, I look forward to shearing next year to see how this girl’s conformation and fleece looks like after a full year of growth.


This ewe is very nice as well. She’s out of Wintertime Bond and S’more Sparkles, who are two sheep that I like a great deal. I like this girl as well. Her brother was amazing, and although I wouldn't quite put her in his class, she's very nice. She’s an F3 Orion, and a Pompey Magnus great granddaughter (52% UK). Not too shabby!

She was spotted at birth, and still maintains some faded spots on her face. I’m guessing that she’s only a carrier. She also carries polled and might carry moorit.
I would say that her fleece resembles her mother’s a great deal in type, but it is finer, and more uniform, which is what we were shooting for with this breeding. Aside from being another grey katmoget, she is a ewe we are quite excited about. We elected not to breed her this year even though she was plenty big enough. I'll talk more about our breeding strategy in the coming weeks, but she certainly fits into our program. It's hard to do better than the bloodlines that she has.
Anyway, we like what we see so far in this girl and we'll see what we can do with her in our program.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


We originally had this ewe lamb on our sell list, but her fleece really changed throughout the summer and it is very nice now! It never was bad, just not my preferred type. As she matured, it became my preferred type. So, I’m not exactly sure what might happen with her. She carries mioget from her mother, and could very well carry spots as well. Test breedings will flush that out at some point. Maybe not this year, but sometime. She is out of Wintertime Bond and Whispering Pines Tiger Lily, and is 42% UK. Here’s a good example of us sticking to our vision and eventually producing something better than what we started with. We started with Under The Son Tiara and Clover, and through careful selection ended up with a ewe that seems right now to be much closer to what we are breeding for. We’ll see how it goes. Those sheep had excellent conformations, which proved to me that you can start with that and work on fleece along the way. Hopefully, we can keep that forward momentum going.

Blue Topaz

Long time followers (I shouldn't presume that we have long time followers) probably recall that we thought pretty highly of Pike Hill Violet. This little gem is her daughter out of Blue’s Clues. She seems to have good qualities from both. Her fleece doesn’t have as much density as some of our lambs, but it has good density, as well as great lock structure and luster. We were always impressed with Violet’s fleece. It had great density. We liked this girl so much that we elected to sell Violet. I hope she continues to breed and produce wonderful lambs like this one! We hated to part with her, but we think her daughter has great potential. I’m very interested in how this lamb produces, and whether she carries moorit. I know she carries spots and, in fact, you can see the white on her face right now.

After much thought, we did, however, elect not to breed Blue Topaz this year. She was big enough, but we felt we wanted to cut back on the number of lambs this spring, which made it easier to hold over some of the lambs from this past spring. Oh well, next year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Holly

Sheltering Pines Christmas Holly is a yearling grey katmoget ewe who we like a lot. She had a nice yearling micron test, and is correct in most ways. She’s also more refined than some of our sheep, which isn’t a bad thing.

Holly is soft and very pretty. I also like her background. She’s out of Wintertime Thayu (a Black Forrest son), and Little Country Possum (a Pompey Magnus daughter). I brought her in for that reason. Those are nice genetics and I wanted to see what I could do with them with some other bloodlines that we have. Last year, we bred her to Bond and got a nice polled ram who we are keeping. We really like him as much as any ram we’ve had born here. He just fits our vision of things. The fact that he is out of bloodlines that we also like a great deal is a nice bonus.

That’s it for the adult ewes. We decided to only keep 10 adults so we could make room for some of the lambs that we liked.

This year’s lamb crop was our best yet, which made it possible to let some nice adults and lambs go to other farms. We look forward to seeing how they produce for other people.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sheltering Pines Constantinople

I saw this ewe last year at Stephen’s farm and knew I had to have her. She is built just like I prefer, with long legs and body, level topline, and straight legs. Her fleece has nice density and fineness. She also has what I consider to be a perfect Shetland head. She’s just correct and typey. Her lambs this year were top notch as well!

She’s probably our largest ewe in terms of height and weight. She’s quite striking to look at out in the pasture, I’ll say that. She also has nice bloodlines that I respect. Just look at some of the nice Shetlands in her immediate background: Greenholme Holly, Northwind Holiday, Sheltering Pines Isadora, and Sheltering Pines William The Conquerer. And that’s just on her mother’s side! On her father’s side you have Thelonius Monk, Bartok, and Minder. That’s a nice collection of genetics to go with her looks.