Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - White Pine Reawick

It didn't seem like I would ever be saying this, but this is the final Ewe-A-Day post and it comes on the last day of 2015. It took a long time to get through our ewes. After this, it's on to the rams.

White Pine Reawick is the first ewe we’ve brought into our flock since 2011. Back then, we were desperate to bring in fine moorits. That worked out so well, now we have too many of them. Now we are lacking blacks and whites. The good news is that we have some black based sheep to work with, so there’s hope on that front. Whites are a completely different story. If you don’t have at least one white sheep, you have exactly 0 % chance of getting white lambs.

Reawick may not give us the white lambs that we are looking for this year (one never knows how the genetic dice will roll), but she is a good start to our goal of re-establishing white in our flock. She’s also a very good looking ewe with a soft fleece. I don’t have the fleece stats on her as we brought her in after the latest round of micron testing.

I just think she is a nice ewe and she brings us genetics we don't currently have. It can take some time to learn about new genetics and how to best use them, which is why we don't bring them in often. You really do get to know your own genetics over time. Of course, they weren't our genetics at one point, so it's always exciting to see what we can do with new ones. Chances are, if we are able to reestablish fine fleece white sheep in our flock, we'll have this ewe to thank. Thank you to Garrett Ramsay in helping us get this ewe in time for breeding season!

In our next post, I'll ramble on about our rams and why I think they hold the key to our flock's future. I am very bullish on what we have out there and can't wait to use them!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Jane Eyre

As the saying goes, always save the best for last. This isn't the twelve days of Christmas, but this is the 12th keeper ewe lamb from 2015.

I said that most lambs don’t really stand out at birth, but every now and then, one does. Unfortunately for us, we usually have five or six ram lambs every year that meet that description, but not as many ewe lambs. Harriet was one ewe lamb that really stood out this year, but so did Jane Eyre. We don't get many lambs this nice, but it makes it all worth while when we do.

Jane is out of Canterbury and Florence. Florence is a Pompey daughter. When you have a lamb like this, you often wonder where it came from. Sure, the bloodlines are very impressive, but that’s true of all our sheep.
A lot of our lambs at birth look like they have fantastic fleeces. But you don’t know until September or so, which ones are winners. Jane had the look, that’s about all I can say. There was never any question she would be the top lamb from this year, and she is. But that would’ve been true regardless of her fleece stats.
Her fleece stats are: 17.9/4/22.2/6.5/17.6.
That’s even finer than her dad. I suppose there is a limit to how fine a Shetland can or should be, but this might very well be the finest sheep that we ever produce. I have no idea what to expect with this one, but if my nutrition theory holds up, I would expect her spring numbers to be very similar. She is pretty refined like her father, but she did grow very well this summer and has excellent body condition. Jane reminds me of her father a great deal, so we’re hoping her fleece develops like his as well.

Lamb picture:

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Fanny

Fanny is a fawn katmoget out of Canterbury and Siena. I really like her twin brother and she is nearly his equal. We’ve had a long running goal to reproduce Siena with a finer fleece, and this ewe lamb might just be the ticket. Her fleece stats are: 21.1/4.3/20.6/7.9/20.5.
Stats never tell the entire story with a sheep, but this is a really nice ewe lamb by any standard. We knew Siena was something special immediately and I can’t make the same claim here, but then again, we didn’t have 25 lambs on the ground when Siena was born, so you tended to notice the really nice ones more. Now it seems like all of them are nice, so it’s hard for a lamb to really stand out unless they have flashy markings or something of note.

Lamb picture. She is the dark one on the left.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Charlotte

Charlotte is a fawn katmoget out of Canterbury and Vittoria, who is another one of our Pompey daughters. Nothing jumps out at us in terms of fleece quality, but I think that’s a good thing. If all of your lambs are improvements on the parents, that doesn’t say much about the parents as far as I am concerned. I think it should be tough to improve on the parents. I do like Charlotte better than Vittoria by a smidgeon, but her fleece is not going to be finer. But, the bar is set pretty high on that and her fleece stats are very good: 22.4/5.9/26.6/9.1/22.9.
The problem that we always run into is that if we elect to keep 10 ewe lambs every year, we have to sell 10 adults to make room. Which means that you are looking for that little flaw that one has and another doesn’t. Her fleece doesn’t have visible flaws, but the numbers probably won’t compare favorably to some of the other sheep in our flock. But that’s not something I am concerned about at this point.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Catherine

Catherine is an interesting fawn katmoget out of Canterbury and Constantinople. What we learned over the years was that Constantinople had a fairly high microning  fleece as a yearling, but it held there through the age of 7. It essentially never increased. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before in our sheep. So, when I saw Catherine’s fleece stats, I wasn’t particularly moved one way or the other: 23.2/5.7/24.6/8.8/23.3.

In other words, her fleece is nicer than her mother’s at the same age. I am very interested in how this fleece turns out next March because I particularly like the conformation on this ewe. Plus, all of Constantinople’s daughters are outstanding producers.

Below is her lamb picture along with her mother. I thought I had a current picture, but I'll have to get one soon.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth Bennet is one of the few moorit lambs that we had this year. She is out of Canterbury and Vogue. Her micron results are pretty good: 23.6/4.9/20.7/7.7/22.9.
Again, we’ll have to see how all the lambs come through the winter and re-evaluate in March, but if she was a micron finer, that would influence my thinking on her. If you just evaluate the fleece handle, you can’t really tell these lambs apart from a wool standpoint.
Her fleece picture:

Here is what she looked like as a lamb:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Marianne

Marianne is another daughter out of Egyptian Autumn and Pearl. She is a fawn katmoget with very good fleece stats: 22.4/5/22.3/8.3/22.1. As you can see, a lot of our lambs had very similar fall micron test results. What I like most about Marianne and Elinor is that they are out of two excellent super fine parents. I like the fleeces on their parents a great deal, but I think the combination could bode well for future generations. There is a very high likelihood that lambs like this can produce exceptional lambs of their own when combined with the type of rams that we have. It’s always tough to wait two years to see that offspring, but that gives you a chance to get a good look at last year’s lambs that we were so high on.

Ewe-A-Day - Anne Elliot

Anne Elliot is out of Canterbury and Blue Sapphire, so she is a bloodline that we care a lot about. Her fleece stats are: 21.8/4.5/20.6/7.2/21.2.
As you can see, pretty much the same as Elinor’s. We really have no experience with Canterbury offspring, so we will see what happens. Both he and Blue Sapphire, however, both have fleeces that are both exquisite and have held their fineness well year-over-year.

I do think this lamb is going to be an important adult in our flock, but like all of our lambs, she'll go on the shelf for a year before she's ready for primetime.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Elinor is a grey katmoget out of Egyptian Autumn and Pearl. It’s always nice to get black based sheep, and she is a good one. Her fleece stats are: 22.1/4.5/20.5/7.7/21.4.
Her bloodlines are just exquisite. Her fleece is a little bit longer also, so we’ll see what that ends up meaning. The winter growing season is always interesting because fleeces can double in length during that period. One never knows how a second fleece will look like, but when you have standard deviations of 4.5, you can only be optimistic. Rosanna had a lamb fleece like this and I really liked it. Then again, we haven't really evaluated her second fleece yet.

I'm sure I sound like a broken record, but I look at genotypes and phenotypes in virtually equal weight, so if a sheep looks good and has the bloodlines that this one has, we'll generally keep her until we learn what his/her true genetic potential is...especially when they are black-based.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Harriet

Ahh, Harriet, our lovely fawn smirslet katmoget ewe out of Canterbury and Cordovan. She was our bottle lamb from this year and has been fed like a pig. She even has a little pig nose. She is my second favorite ewe lamb from this year, although I don't know how lived, to be honest. She was nearly dead when she was born and I had to revive her. Then it was touch and go for a week. She was born very small, but has responded well. Of course, I left her on the bottle until October in an attempt to get every pound of growth on her that I could. As of two weeks ago, she was at 42 pounds, which is pretty good given her refined build. She'll never be 80 pounds, which is something I like. It's possible that all that nutrition impacted her fleece numbers, but they are still pretty respectable. I will be interested to see how her fleece grows this winter. It's been fairly warm this year so far compared to the last two winters. So far, the ewes have been able to convert all of their feed into body weight, but it's not clear to me how temperature impacts fleece growth. I know nutrition impacts fiber diameter, so if warmer temperatures might lead to higher micron results with less competition with the cold.
Harriet's fall fleece test was: 20.2/4.5/22.5/8.1/7.2/19.9. Very good average, but a little higher standard deviation like most of the lambs this year. As I said, I'll be very curious about the spring test on a full fleece.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Lydia

Lydia is a striking lamb out of Canterbury and Kahlua.
I like everything about her, quite frankly. Her fleece stats are: 23.0/5.3/23/9/6.5/22.8.
I would be willing to bet money, however, that her spring test will be much better. This is actually excellent for a spotted Shetland, but I would have expected she was finer looking at her fleece. I could be wrong about thinking her average and standard deviation will decrease by spring, but we'll see.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Kyrie

I did kinda find a picture of Kyrie, so I'll post about her and then get a better picture this weekend. She is the little moorit behind Emma.

Kyrie is out of Pearl and Egyptian King and is moorit. We were trying to get black out of this breeding, but what can you do? Instead, we got a nice moorit with excellent fleece stats: 22.7/4.1/18.3/7.1/21.6. I think that projects well and I expect her two year old fleece to come in under 25 microns. I love these genetics with both Bond and Jericho in there.
I also like her small size relative to our other sheep. Both Egyptian King and Pearl would be considered of average size, and Kyrie is a bit smaller, but she isn't two yet, so we'll see how next summer goes. The picture is a bit of an illusion in that she isn't the same size as Emma. But she is the same age as the fawn kat next to her.
Anytime I can play around with Pearl's genetics, I get excited. And yes, she is named after the Mister Mister song (one of my favorite 80's songs from a band I don't think much of). You can always tell the sheep we like the most because they get the good names.

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Emma

Yesterday, I nearly finished up the adult ewes, but I need pictures of two of them, so I'll come back to them at the end (because it will probably take me two weeks to get them). The yearlings are always exciting because we have waited almost two years to see what they can producer and it's always interesting to put them in groups that have great potential.

Having said that, we typically have lambs that are better, so I tend to get more excited about them. This year is no different. We have 12 really good ewe lambs to work with and five ram lambs that are even nicer for the most part.

Yesterday, I finished up with the yearlings, so now we are off to the lambs from this year. None will be bred, but the future looks good for next year. I didn’t realize this until I started working on this list, but we are keeping 10 Canterbury daughters and five sons. Enough said.

Emma is out of Canterbury and Cordovan. What I like most about her is that she is spotted and mostly white. Her fall fleece statistics are what they are, and I don’t put a lot of stock in them. I do think they are useful though. Still, her fleece stats are pretty decent: 24.2/5.3/21.9/9.2/23.7. I believe she will end up being for sale next spring because my experience tells me she won't break the top 25 or so ewes when it comes time to put our sales list together in May. If her fleece was a micron finer, it would make all the difference in the world, however, since she has the build and fleece density that we like. I would like to use all of the Canterbury lambs at least one time though, so who knows? I am a firm believer in the genetic potential of ewes even if they don't exhibit all of the traits we want. In Emma's case, she only lacks fleece fineness, so that will weigh heavily when decision day comes. I also believe she is mioget, so that will also be a consideration.
We will see how her fleece comes in over the winter. I'm looking for reasons to keep her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ewe - A - Day - Whispering Pines Caramel Mocha

Somehow, I missed one of the prettiest two year olds in our flock.

Whispering Pines Caramel Mocha is practically out of royal bloodlines. Her father is Khan and her mother is Genoa, a flock favorite of ours. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t included her in our two year old ewe-a-day posts until I set up breeding groups last week. When I came to her, I was scratching my head trying to figure out who it was by her eartag. She is a moorit with a fine fleece, but I just like her look. I fully expect to have delightful lambs out of her and Canterbury next spring. I never know which ewes will produce the best lambs, but we know we will have some special lambs out of one or more of these great ewes!

Ewe - A - Day - Whispering Pines Kelly Kelly

Kelly Kelly is another Stonehenge daughter out of Kahlua. I was pretty high on this moorit ewe immediately and I still like what we have here. Her fleece stats are: 21.5/4/18.6/6.8/20.5. Fleece wise, she is a cut above the others I have presented so far. She reminds me a lot of her mother except she is smaller.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines 99

Here is a super fine spotted ewe out of Egyptian Autumn and Irish Rose. We call her 99, after the Toto song of the same name. All of our ewes from last year were named after songs about girls. Her fleece stats are: 23.7/4.2/17.9/7.6/22.5.
I don’t know if her two year old fleece will come in under 25 microns, but I really want to see what kind of lambs she will produce. She is the only lamb we got out of her mother, who was a Bond daughter. I like her though. I think her yearling fleece stacks up nicely to our other yearling ewes. More importantly, perhaps, I love her straight topline and overall build.
Her lamb picture:


Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Sarah

Sarah is out of Stonehenge and Kiyah, so we have another combination of Jericho and Bond Genetics in this ewe along with Orion. That’s a pretty nice trifecta of bloodlines. Kiyah was out of Blue Diamond, who was out of Blue’s Clues, who was out of Blues, who was a Jericho son. That’s a long walk to get to Jericho, but it’s worth the journey. Stonehenge is out of Genoa, who is out of Shiobhan, who is out of Orion. A little shorter stroll. Her fleece stats are: 21.7/4/18.2/7.2/20.7.
She has a little more britch than I like, but that's okay as long as the fleece doesn't start out fine in the shoulders and then gradually fall apart the further back you get. Hers doesn't do that. It's pretty uniform right back to the hips. I still don't like it, but I don't consider it to be a severe flaw, and in her case, it's about the only one she has.

Her fleece is right there with Kelly Kelly’s in terms of quality, which finally convinced me that Stonehenge was producing exceptionally well given the small number of ewes he was bred to that year. We ended up keeping four ewes from him, and if I remember correctly, he only had four of them.
I have to include her lamb picture because she was one of the cooler lambs we've had:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Sherrie

Sherrie is another Stonehenge daughter that we are high on. Her mother is Blue Sapphire. Her fleece stats are: 22.9/4/17.3/7/21.6.
I think when you get your standard deviations down to 4.0, you are doing well. As with most of our fawn katmogets, I wish she was a different color, but when you get superb fleeces like this, you have to be happy regardless.
As with all of our sheep, however, I tend to get most excited about their genetics and what they might produce. Our yearlings just have several generations of fleeces that we really like. That increases the odds of getting really nice sheep. Having spent years breeding decent fleeces out of average or below average fleeces, I eventually came to realize that throwbacks are common place with Shetlands. The odds are much improved when you have three generations of genetics in a sheep's pedigree that meet our standards. That way, even if they throw back, it's to something really nice. Five generations would be better, but I don't think we have anything like that yet.
Here is her lamb picture:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Mustang Sally



Mustang Sally is another yearling moorit that we like a great deal. She is out of Khan and Siena. Her fleece results are: 23.1/4.6/19.9/7.8/22.3.
We like the super fine moorit fleeces, if for no other reason than how rare they are on our farm. I wouldn’t call her an improvement on her mother, but she is finer at this age. She is one of two Khan daughters that we still own. We do still have many of his grandkids, but we did have to move out some of his kids to make room for them.
I also thought she was a pretty nice lamb as this picture shows:

Ewe-A-Day - Whispering Pines Pamela

Pamela is out of Egyptian Autumn and Frangelico, who are excellent Shetlands in their own right. Pamela is finer than both of them were as yearlings, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

Her fleece stats are: 22.7/4.3/18.9/7.1/21.7. Frangelico was probably my favorite Khan daughter (or top three anyway). Having lambs like this, unfortunately, forced us to sell her to make room. It's a curse sometimes to have improved lambs, because at some point, you have to part with animals that produce really well. In Frangelico's case, all her lambs were outstanding. It's always a tough call to make, but you can't continue improving if you hold onto all the good ewes. You have to sell them knowing full well that their offspring carry even more potential. I don't think I've ever regretted selling a ewe, but Frangelico and her twin sister, Irish Mist were tough ones to let go.