Monday, May 30, 2011

Moorit Gulmoget Ewe For Sale

We’re finally getting around to creating a sales list, and are offering a few sheep at this point. As the spring rolls on (or arrives), we’ll continue making the hard choices.

First, Irish Lace is a two year old solid-sided gulmoget out of Firth of Fifth Leyland and Buttercup. She is a Black Forrest granddaughter.

I really hate to sell this ewe, because she is built quite nicely (as the shorn picture shows) and because she is very rare (being a moorit, solid-sided gulmoget who carries spots).

Her fleece is 5” to 5.5” long, which still meets the Appendix A guidelines. Her two year old micron test average was 27.7. I wouldn’t hate keeping her, but for now, she’s for sale.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 Lambing Thoughts

1. I'm still having a tough time picking which lambs I like the best. I think we ended up with more top notch ewe lambs than I expected. I was hoping for four really nice ones, and maybe it'll end up that way, but right now, there are quite a few great ewe lambs out there.

2. It’s hard to get all of the colors, patterns, and spots that you want while also improving quality. As we raise the bar each year, it becomes more of a challenge.

3. Egyptian King turned out to be a great ram. His lambs are everything I hoped they would be.

4. I’m happy that we haven’t taken a step back in terms of conformations while working on fleece improvement. I was worried about that. I’m not sure why.

5. Pompey made a nice contribution to our flock in only one year.

6. As did Buckaroo. I wanted to introduce more Jericho blood into our flock and he allowed us to do that.

7. We’re still reaping the benefits from bringing in Blue’s Clues and Bond two years ago. I’ve done (and continue to do) dumb things, but those were good decisions.

8. We’ve built up a nice foundation of poll carriers. Three years ago, I don’t think we had any. Leyland was the first half-poll ram we ever used, and at that time, we were breeding him to ewes that I knew didn’t carry polled. This spring, I believe all but one lamb carry one or more polled genes, and some carry both of them. So, I’m happy that we’ve been able to introduce that into our flock without giving up other things as well. It’s still not our number one priority, but we’ve been able to make good progress.

9. I continue to be amazed by the diversity in this breed. I mean, we have a lot of katmogets here, and yet, no two are the same. The fleeces are different, the colors are different, the pattern itself varies. The same is true of gulmogets.

10. I continue to find joy in learning about different fleece types, and speculating about how each lamb’s fleece will turn out. There is so much to consider beyond color.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lambing Stats

Here are the stats from this year's lambing:

13 ewe lambs
6 ram lambs
4 grey katmogets
8 fawn katmogets
6 blacks
1 grey

That’s 19 lambs, which quite frankly, isn’t too bad. Of course, I say that because 13 of them were ewes.

As expected, we certainly had a run on katmogets again this year. We are still paying the price for breeding with two grey katmoget rams two falls ago. But we are also reaping the benefits of that decision in terms of fleeces and conformations. In year three of our fleece improvement program, I can honestly say we struck gold. Much work remains, but it’s nice to see some incremental improvement.

Our goal heading into this spring was to add some solid black and moorit ewes to our flock to go along with the overall quality of the sheep. We were able to add blacks, but not a single unpatterned moorit. Still, if I had to choose between color and quality, quality wins every time, and that continues to be our philosophy.

Now, we did add some exceptional fawn katmogets, so we’ll take that. We didn’t have a single fawn katmoget ewe last fall, and we wanted to add a couple.

We are attempting to put together a sales list, but it’s not the easiest thing to do. We believe strongly that we need to keep a nice mix of adults and lambs, and we’re trying to do that. We really hate to part with any of the adults. But our goal is to breed for quality, and the difficult part is deciding whether a mother or daughter is a better fit for our plans for next year. That is very difficult to evaluate with lambs that are only a few weeks old. Some certainly will not be improvements on their mothers. And it might take months to really gage that with any accuracy. And some of the mothers are such great producers, that you really need to include them in the breeding program. Other adults are young, but already showing promise.

Last fall, we kept 18 ewes and bred 14. I don’t know how many we are keeping this year, but it won’t be more than that. More important than the number is our goal of making sure each flock member is outstanding. Some might be finer than others, some might have more crimp, some might have greater density, and still others might have better conformations. Maybe none will have all of the things we want. But looking at the progress we’ve made this year, I feel confident that our flock can reach the goals we have set for it. I’m not sure how long that will take, but I’m pleased that we are starting to contribute to the breed in a positive way. Sure, with such a small flock, the contribution is very small, but it’s rewarding nonetheless.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lambing - Final Stretch

Two new lambs to talk about. Blue Sapphire lambed on Wednesday and gave us this extremely fine fawn katmoget ram lamb. He’s 56% UK and a half-poll. He’s just a beautiful ram in my book!

Now that all of the Egyptian King ewes have lambed, I can say that I’m blown away by his lambs! Each one has his fleece type. I can’t say that all of them will be 20 microns, but they are going to be fine. Granted, we did breed him to two Blue’s Clues daughters, so I shouldn’t be surprised at the outcome, but I was very pleased with his lambs this year. Christmas Holly’s ram lamb out of Egyptian King is also looking impressive. He may or may not be as fine as his father, but I like his structure better already. He’ll be one to watch over the next few months as we figure out which way to go with breeding next year.

Whispering Pines Shiobhan, our F1 Orion ewe from last year, also lambed on Wednesday and had a very pretty grey katmoget ewe lamb out of Pompey. She is 58% UK and the second darkest katmoget we’ve had here. I love those dark blue katmogets and would have four or five of them if I could. This lamb looks promising so far.

Only one ewe left to go, Irish Lace, our solid-sided gulmoget (shown here trying to elude my camera). She is bred to Little Buckeroo, our F1 Jericho son.