Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lambing Update

Lambing this year is winding down, so I thought I’d catch up on the most recent lambs.

First, Primrose had a ram and a ewe this year out of Little Buckaroo, our F1 half-poll Jericho ram. The ewe is a collage of color, and a fawn yuglet socket katmoget. She has a lot of growing to do as both she and her brother are small, but she looks nice. I love the small eye patches. Actually, Primrose is our smallest ewe, so it doesn’t surprise me that these two are on the small side.

Her brother is also very pretty. He is a fawn katmoget with nice facial markings.

These lambs are 41% UK. Not sure if these lambs carry one or both horned genes. Primrose is not a poll carrier, but Buckaroo is. The ram has horn buds.

Peridot lambed this morning, and I’m very impressed with her ewe lamb out of Pompey. This was a linebreeding where I was trying to bring out certain characteristics that I admire in both Bond and Pompey. It’s early, but I really like this grey katmoget lamb. This was the first Bond lamb I bred back to Pompey, and although I know it won’t work every time, it did here. This lamb is 43% UK. As I said earlier, we threw Peridot in with Pompey late, primarily because I really wanted to see how this cross would work.

And last, but not least, is Cor de Nuit’s fawn katmoget lamb out of Pompey. This may very well be the nicest lamb we’ve ever had born here at Whispering Pines. Oh my goodness, she has just about everything I could ask for in a lamb. She’s big, so that might be influencing my assessment, but she is just a knockout lamb. She is 44% UK.

That’s it for now. Three more ewes to go: One bred to Egyptian King (Blue Sapphire), one bred to Buckaroo (Irish Lace), and one bred to Pompey (Shiobhan). I’m very interested in all of them!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lambs - Little Buckaroo

Wintertime Itasca is our finest adult ewe at 25.0 microns, and she produced two very fine ewe lambs last year when bred to Bond. This year, we bred her to Little Buckaroo (our F1 Jericho son) in hopes of producing fine fleeced lambs with excellent conformations. We were also looking for lambs in shades of brown.

We’re pleased with the outcome, although only one lamb is brown-based. But both are carriers!

The first ewe lamb is a fawn katmoget with a very nice, consistent fleece. I like this lamb a great deal. It’s very close to what we were looking for.

The second lamb has the prettiest facial markings that we’ve had here. And her fleece is spectacular! Very fine and crimpy, much like Itasca’s lambs last year. We were very fortunate to get ewe lambs out of her again this year.

Needless to say, these lambs are some of the best that we’ve had here this spring. Nice long bodies, great tails, and wonderful fleeces. No one can predict how lambs will turn out, but these two have great potential. Anyway, I feel good about that breeding now. I was originally waffling between Pompey and Buckaroo, and I’m glad we went the way we did. These lambs are 61% UK.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lambs - Pompey

We’ve only had a few Pompey lambs this year, but here is an updated list.

Sheltering Pines Queen Anne’s Lace had a black ewe lamb that looks promising. I was looking for black here, and I’m not disappointed. She is one that we will be watching. She also appears to be a spot carrier, which I did not expect. This lamb is 44% UK.

S’More Sparkles (an F2 Orion) had two nice black lambs recently. The ram looks like he could be something really nice. He’ll be a half-poll with a consistent fleece. I would have preferred a moorit here, but both lambs are very nice.

His sister has cool markings, and also should be very nice. She feels really soft, and I think has lots of potential. These lambs are 45%UK. I’m guessing that the markings on her face only indicate she is a carrier. I do not believe Pompey carries spots. Anyway, two very nice lambs.

Lambs - Bond

All three ewes from Bond’s group have lambed and each gave us a ewe lamb, which will make decision time difficult. But then, it always is. We gave Bond Constantinople, Onyx, and Persia in hopes of getting some fine, high quality ewes, and we’re pretty satisfied with the results. Last year, Bond improved every ewe he was bred to, and we were very interested in what he would do with these particular ewes. Bond’s two year old micron test was: AFD: 23.6; CV: 18.6; SF: 22.5. Our goal is to reproduce that in as many ewes as we can. Plus, we just like the way the Bond lambs look. All have nice toplines, tails, and heads, to go with their improved fleeces.

Here is Constantinople’s ewe lamb. She only had a single this year. The lamb is a fawn yuglet katmoget, with an impressive fleece and is 51% UK. Again, not a huge amount of UK blood in this lamb, but enough to introduce the fleece characteristics that we want.

Persia twinned this year, which was a surprise. Her ram is built extremely well and has a wavy birth coat at this point. I haven’t had time to determine whether he might be polled, but there is a 50/50 chance. He’ll be at least a half-poll. He is black with nice spotting. It’s always cool when we get unpatterned lambs with katmoget-to-katmoget breedings. If I had to guess, I’d say he’ll probably have a four or five inch fleece length, which is about right, I think. I have no idea how fine he’ll be, but out of those parents, he should be pretty nice. He may end up being for sale, but we’ll have to see how he develops. He really doesn’t offer us anything genetically that we don’t already have.

And finally, Persia finally gave us a ewe. And we really like her potential. Great structure, fleece, and presence in one package. She’s a very pretty dark, silvery blue katmoget with a very consistent fleece. We’ll be keeping a close eye on her to see how she develops, but she’s as close to what we are breeding for as we could have hoped for. She’s almost exactly what I envisioned with this breeding. She is 48% UK.

Onyx also lambed yesterday, but I don’t have pictures yet. The lamb looks very much like Persia’s ram lamb, however. Solid black with interesting spotting on her head. Stunning conformation, and a wavy black fleece. I don’t really know where her fleece is headed at this point because her mother also had a fleece like this when she was a lamb and she ended up being fine with a lower CV. I would say this lamb might be very much like her mother, but unpatterned. She is 57% UK.

A good collection of lambs out of these breedings! Some excellent conformations to go with fleece diversity and fineness. We would’ve liked to have put Bond with more ewes, but we’re trying to maintain genetic diversity as we improve our flock, which isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Lambs - Egyptian King

Well, it’s been a tough spring to get pictures, but I finally bit the bullet and took some in the barn just to give people an idea of what we’ve had so far.

This lambing has been much anticipated because it represents several years of work accumulating top notch genetics in hopes of developing a flock that closely resembles what you might see in the UK, where all North American Shetlands originated. We felt it was better to get back to our old world roots than to perpetuate the continuation of a shiny new breed that has been created in the US. Not all of our sheep meet that lofty vision, but the sheep that we have here were brought in as pieces of a genetic puzzle that we continue to assemble year after year. We continue to welcome the incredible diversity that this breed offers, but I do think that we need more Shetlands in the US that reflect the UK approach to breeding (there are precious few of them in the US) and we want to be a part of that. I continue to find it interesting that if you look at our flock, we really don’t have a high percentage of UK content in it. But genetically speaking, they are producers, and it’ll be tough to part with any of them. Anyway, here are some of the lambs so far, starting with Egyptian King’s group.

We bred Whispering Pines Blue Diamond (Blue’s Clues x Constantinople) to Whispering Pines Egyptian King (Wintertime Bond x Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit) in hopes of leveraging some pretty amazing genetics. It was a tough call breeding a wildly spotted moorit ewe to a solid black unproven ram, but it was too good a cross and I couldn’t see doing it another way.

I’m very pleased with the results. Diamond had a solid black ewe lamb with a small spot on her head, and a fawn katmoget ewe. You be the judge, but I think these are stunning lambs. The black one is just what we were looking for – an unpatterned sheep with a stunning, consistent fleece. And in my opinion, the fawn katmoget is even nicer. Both carry spots, and the black one also carries moorit. These lambs represent several years of breeding for fine, consistent Shetland fleeces, and I am quite excited about their potential. The lambs are 53% UK (see, not that high).

Not to be outdone, Christmas Holly (FirthofFifth Thayu x Lil’Country Possum) came through with an incredible black ram lamb out of Egyptian King. This is also a stunning lamb. I know he is black, and who gets excited about that, but we said that about his father last year, and look at the lambs he gave us so far. I wish I had bred more ewes to him.

Again, this lamb has a very dense, crimpy, and uniform fleece. I’m not going to say I don’t wish he was a ewe (and moorit), but you get what you get and you never know who is going to give you the top quality lambs. When you get a Shetland of this quality, we just accept it for what it is without getting disappointed over gender or color. I also expect this lamb to be polled. He is 43.5% UK.

So, the only thing we’ve proven so far about Egyptian King is that he carries moorit and has thrown three lambs that are his equal or better (nice long bodies, fine, crimpy fleeces, great toplines, etc.). We have one more ewe bred to him (Blue Sapphire), and we are looking forward to her lamb (another Blue’s Clues daughter).

I’ll post more lambs on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The first lamb of the season has arrived! Sheltering Pines Constantinople delivered a pretty yuglet fawn katmoget the other day. This lamb is out of Bond and I like a lot of things about her. She has a very uniform fleece -- crimpy right to the tail and very soft as well. I never get tired of getting getting brown based, spotted lambs from breedings involving two black based, solid Shetlands. Just what the doctor ordered, and a good way to start the season.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lamb Goals

Well, shearing is done. It’s a day we look upon each year with dread. Will the fleeces come off properly, or be unasable? Will the sheep be all nicked up. Yes, shearing day has always been an adventure here -- kind of like riding a roller coaster with no seat restraints. But we came out of it fine this year. A few ewes didn’t shear well, but overall, not too bad.

Everyone is in nice condition as well. It seems several ewes aren’t as far along as I would’ve liked, but perhaps they are just carrying singles. Still, I like how everyone looks. No surprises; no disappointments.

We’ve talked about some of our flock goals, but I wanted to share some of the expectations for some of our ewes (in case they are reading this).

Wintertime Itasca

We’re hoping for solid black or moorit. We don’t need any more katmogets, and we are sure to get plenty of them, regardless. Chances are, Little Buckaroo is a homozygous katmoget, so our odds of achieving this goal aren’t great. She gave us our best lambs last year, and we have high hopes again this year. She’s one of the ewes that epitomizes what we are trying to do here. She has a really fine fleece, and we are trying to reproduce that while improving other traits. We’re not necessarily looking for ultra fine lambs with this breeding, just really nice ones with exquisite fleeces.

S’more Sparkles

Sparkles gave us two nice lambs last year when bred to Bond, and I expect the same this year in moorit. She is Ag, so musket would also work fine. We won’t get spots out of her this year, however, but that’s fine. In hindsight, I’m glad we bred her to Pompey. I was on the fence about it, but I think it was the right move. Sparkles is an F2 Orion, and her lambs could be really nice.

Sheltering Pines Christmas Holly

We’re definitely looking for a solid black ewe here. She may carry moorit, but that’s not likely, and she’s being bred to a black ram (Egyptian King). I just want this lamb to be as nice as I envision in my head. The lambs could be fully polled, but that really didn’t enter into our decision to breed her to Egyptian King. The fact that she’s one of our nicer ewes and he’s one of our best rams did enter into it. I don’t know if this lamb will be ultra fine either, but it could be. What I would like, however, is a ewe lamb exactly like the ram lamb she threw last year. He’s darn near perfect.

Whispering Pines Blue Diamond

In hindsight, if we really wanted more moorit lambs, it made little sense to breed this ewe to Egyptian King, but the potential for a high quality lamb was too good to pass up. We’re hoping that Egyptian King carries moorit and spots, but I really don’t know. We would love to get a moorit lamb here, but black is fine too. I’ve grown to like the blacks more and more each year now that I’ve seen what that color fleece can look like when it’s fine.

Whispering Pines Blue Sapphire

Pretty much the same thought process as Blue Diamond. This breeding was interesting, however, in that Sapphire could be a gulmoget, which means we could get a gulmoget ewe here. This is the first time I haven’t been able to identify a lamb’s pattern. There’s really no color on her to help make that determination. There was barely enough to determine that she is a katmoget. If not for the one grey spot on her side, I wouldn’t know that either. There is so much potential in this ewe that we almost don’t care what pattern or sex the lamb is. Still, black is preferred…and a ewe. To me, breeding her to Egyptian King was a no brainer. There are always other options, but she is probably our favorite ewe, and he is my favorite ram right now in terms of overall structure and fleece.

Whispering Pines Peridot

She looks to be bred, which is a surprise to me. We put her in with Pompey late and she never saw a complete cycle. But if she is bred, I would certainly want a mioget, or moorit ewe lamb. Pompey is her great grandfather, so this isn’t a close line breeding, but it is intended to bring out fleece traits that I admire. She is an improvement over her mother, and we liked her mother a great deal. A mioget ewe lamb out of this ewe would be really awesome! She’s a good looking yearling!

Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit

The old lady of our flock (she’s five this spring) is one of our best producers. She hasn’t had a bad lamb yet! She is bred to Pompey, which probably means more katmogets, but it would be really sweet if she had a solid black ewe this year. Heck, any ewe would be welcome. She’s had four rams since we’ve owned her and it’s time for two ewes, quite frankly. I still love this ewe! These lambs could also be fully polled. I haven’t come across many Shetlands in my travels who have the kind of fleece this ewe has. You’ll have no difficulty finding finer fleeces than she has, but not with this density and crimp. It’s a fleece that you want to sink your hands into. By breeding her to Pompey, we are forfeiting our ability to get spotted lambs, but this is a straight up quality-to-quality breeding and we are excited about it!

Sheltering Pines Constantinople

This Salicional daughter is quite nice (maybe not as nice as her mother, but very nice nonetheless). She has also produced well. She is bred to Bond (which excites me), but that probably means another grey katmoget. That’s okay. We know there’s a potential for solid moorit as well. We’ll hope for that. The lambs could also be fully polled or be spotted. We get excited when we get fine, spotted lambs. There is so much work to be done with spotted Shetlands, that it is cool when you succeed in getting a nice one. So, we are always conscious of that when we put our breeding groups together. It’s not our number one goal, but it’s probably fourth or fifth on the list.

Sheltering Pines Onyx Velour

Sure, her name sounds like a stripper’s, but she is also a very nice ewe, who has produced well for us. We have a chance at a gul-kat here, but solid black is the ticket that we would like punched. She is bred to Bond, so just about anything is possible here. We don’t have many opportunities for gulmogets here anymore, so I would welcome that as well. Onyx is always one of our best looking ewes on shearing day. Fleeces have a way of hiding conformational flaws, but not with Onyx. She actually looks better after shearing! Now that I think about it, that's true of many of our ewes.

Sheltering Pines Persia

We love this ewe. She is also a great producer and has a great look about her. Although, we are looking for some spotted lambs in moorit, we know that the odds aren’t good of getting all of that, but excellent quality ewes are what we are after. We would like more ewes like her, regardless of color and pattern. We bred her to Bond this year because it made the most sense. It’s a breeding that I wanted to do last year before we decided to do AI.

Whispering Pines Irish Lace

Finally, a moorit-based ewe to talk about. Granted, she’s a gulmoget, but it counts. This is one of the few breedings where we are guaranteed moorit-based lambs (if she is bred). We are looking for a moorit-based spotted gulmoget here, so I’ll just say it. As I said, Bucky could very well carry two katmoget genes, but that’s okay. I also want more ewes that look like this one. She has longer legs like her grandfather, Wintertime Black Forrest, and I like the look of it, quite frankly. As a bonus, after shearing, it occurred to me that she has no side dusting whatsoever. I like that. I’ve always liked the gulmoget pattern, but I’ve never been a big fan of the side dusting that accompanies it 99% of the time. I think we have Black Forrest to thank for that because I don’t believe the other Dillon gulmogets pass that on. In our case, Firth of Fifth Leyland (Forrest’s son, and Irish’ father) was solid sided, and he apparently passed that on to Irish. I have no idea where Forrest got it. Anyway, it’s always nice to have something fairly rare, and I hope we can propagate that gulmoget trait (starting this year).

Whispering Pines Primrose

She has always been one of our favorite ewes -- great personality (if a bit selfish), and conformation to boot. I would really like to get some nice ewes out of her before we end up selling this ewe. We have a shot at a solid moorit here, and spots are also a good possibility. I’m looking for a slight improvement in her fleece type and fineness, but the lamb must also possess her other wonderful traits. She only looks to be carrying one lamb, however.

Sheltering Pines Queen Anne’s Lace

I don’t know if there’s any chance of getting moorit out of this one, but we don’t need white either. That’s the problem with patterned sheep, you soon get too many of them. I think we have a shot at a solid black here, and that’s what we are looking for. This ewe is a good example of what the breed can be. Her fleece is really quite spectacular for a three-year old – crimpy, silky, nice length (around 4”), and white! I was going to sell her last year, but felt she was too nice to let go yet. I’d like to get one like her in a different color. I just think it was a no brainer breeding her to Pompey. I never considered another option. As a side note, she sheared like butter and so did Pompey, so there’s that as well.

Whispering Pines Shiobhan

Now, we can get moorit here, and that’s what we want! This could be a good one! We could get white, and we could get black, and we could get katmoget, but we could also get what we want here, and the fleece could be something special. I would call this ewe pretty close to my ideal in terms of type, structure, and fleece. Not quite, but close. I considered breeding her to Buckaroo, but I felt Pompey gave us the best chance at what we want in terms of improvement. No regrets there; I think it was the right move. Shiobhan is 72% UK blood, which is the highest amount in our flock.

That’s it; a total of 14 ewes. Four of those will surely single. Persia and Onyx always have, but it’s not a given. If the rest twin, that will give us 22 lambs. Out of those, we’ll likely get 10-12 ewe lambs. Can we get several solid black and moorits out of 10 ewe lambs? We sure hope so. Will they be keepers? We hope so. Are the odds good of getting all of those things? No, but we only hope to add a few really nice keepers each year, so that’s all we can hope for. That’s why we have goals, right?

I think we know we won’t quite get there this year, but we’re looking for a good step forward. We had a good year in 2010, and we expect the lambs this year to be nicer, with a little more variety in terms of color and pattern. It will be interesting how things play out. Having built a nice flock, we want to improve from within and keep moving toward our goals.

Happy lambing to everyone!