Friday, May 26, 2017

Top Lambs 2017

It's difficult to pick my favorite lambs at this point in the season, but over the next few weeks, I will post some of them (which may help me pick a favorite).

This first guy is probably my favorite so far out of Jane Eyre. He just stands out in terms of build and fleece quality. Nitro is his sire. Jane Eyre's two year old Spinning Fineness (SF) this year was 18.3 microns, which in addition to being similar to last year's, is also the finest we have in our flock. Jane's father, Canterbury, has similar numbers. That happens to be another factor in why I like this lamb so much. Here we have a great grandmother (Pearl), a great grandfather (Khan), a grandmother (Florence), a grandfather (Canterbury), a mother (Jane Eyre), and a father (Nitro) who are less than or much less than 24 microns as adults. I could go back one more generation and both Pompey and Bond were also less than 24 microns as adults. That's a lot of generations of the best genetics I've been able to assemble over the years.

I believe (and I have been wrong before) this lamb will be nicer than all of them, even if he isn't finer.

Elizabeth Bennet is another excellent ewe out of Canterbury. Her two year old SF was 23.4 microns this year. We have finer, but for a moorit, that's pretty good. This year, she had a ram (moorit) and a ewe (moorit and spotted). I like both of these lambs out of Nitro. Both were born outside on a cold rainy day when I wasn't home. The ram had a faint pulse and was ice cold when I found him. The ewe was in surprisingly good shape. I milked the ewe and fed the ewe to warm her up. The ram seemed like a lost cause. I did, however, try feeding him with a bottle, and was quite surprised he took to it (albeit weakly). I gave him two ounces, covered him with some towels and then went back to work, fully expecting the worse when I got home.

Wouldn't you know it, when I got home, he had shed the towels and was jumping around like nothing happened. It was another first for us. If I had found him 30 minutes later, it would not have turned out so well. It was also interesting in that the mother rejected both lambs at first because they got separated and were wet from the rain. That's the first time I was able to get a ewe to unreject lambs, but it was the second one this spring. Anyway, I like both of these lambs.

This ram out of Emma and Nitro is also growing on me. I liked him at birth but thought him to be nothing special. A few week's later, he's looking to be quite nice. Emma's two year old SF was 23.0 microns. Emma is a Canterbury daughter that I was lukewarm on at birth also, but who has grown into a nice spotted ewe. This ram might end up having a spot here come fall. Sometimes you don't know which ones can help you and which ones are just sentimental favorites. It really comes down to how they grow and whether their fleeces bring us something we lack. All three of the lambs behind him are nothing to sneeze at either.

Once I get more pictures, there are a lot of other really nice lambs that are worth mentioning. As I said previously, all of the rams our superb. There are several noteworthy ewes also, however, and I will post them when I have good pictures.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

2017 Lambing

We had another good lambing season in 2017 here at Ye Olde Whispering Pines Shetland Sheep Farm! Time isn't allowing me to post all of them, but I will post some of the noteworthy ones. At this point in our breeding program, the bar for what is noteworthy is quite high now, so there are really nice lambs that don't get noticed like they once would have.

In general, we had more rams than ewes, which isn't terribly helpful, but once again, the quality of the rams is off the charts. If anyone knows why we consistently find our ram lambs to be consistently of higher quality than our ewes, I'd love to hear a theory. I don't have one, but it happens every year without fail.

This has been a year of firsts for us in many ways, but I would say, the biggest one had to be Genoa's lambs. We've been doing this now since 2002, and this is the first time one of our ewes has had triplets.

Two black ewes and a moorit ram. All very nice. It's also the first time we have had lambs born 5 hours apart. The second ewe lamb arrived five hours after the first one! The ram very soon after. I just could not get to the second lamb, so I opted to wait it out. These lambs are out of Nitro. Nitro's two year old fleece micron tested very well at a Spinning Fineness of 20.2 microns. We have rams that are finer, and some very close, but none have the full package of fleece traits that he has. It would be nice  to get that in black. I've also often said I would take a full flock with Genoa's fleece, so I would be happy if the lambs took after either parent.