Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ewe a day - Kelly Kelly

Whispering Pines Kelly Kelly is out of Whispering Pines Stonehenge and Whispering Pines Kahlua. Stonehenge had a longer fleece, but it had such a nice handle. Kahlua also had a great handling fleece if a bit short. My goal was to add length to her while retaining her fineness and we were able to do that. Her SF this year was 21.5 microns, and it’s held really constant all three years we’ve had her.

One thing I should say at this point is that these ewes have parents that were born and raised here on our farm. If you look back at our Wall of Fame ewes, some of them were born here, but one or more of their parents were not. The reason I’m mentioning this is that I have high expectations for the younger ewes for that reason. It’s one thing to hand pick ewes from other farms for what you think they can do for you, but it’s quite another to consistently produce that on your farm. With each generation, we’ve been able to improve the consistency of our lamb crop so that more and more meet our requirements. I’m somewhat surprised that the older ewes have produced as well as they have because they just don’t have the generations of fine breeding in their backgrounds that the newer ones do. That comes down to their genetics. I’m pleased with the quality they have produced, but I expect that out of the younger ewes now.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ewe a day - Kyrie

We have two ewes remaining from the class of 2014: Kyrie and Kelly Kelly, both moorits. I don’t remember why we only ended up with two, because that was a nice class, but that’s what it is.

Whispering Pines Kyrie is out of Whispering Pines Egyptian King and Pearl. I remember specifically targeting black lambs when I put those sheep together. Well, that failed, but we did end up with a nice moorit out of it. Her SF this year was 24.3 microns, which is quite nice for a three year old Shetland. It’s crept up by a micron each year that we’ve had her, so that warrants monitoring, but the density is there and I like the way her fourth fleece is coming in.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ewe a day - White Pines Reawick

The last of the adult ewes is White Pine Reawick, one of only two white ewes that we have here. She is also four years old this year. Her fleece is superfine with an SF of 23.4 microns. It has good length, and a pretty bold crimp that is different from what we normally shoot for.  She can make a contribution to our goals, and I like everything else about her. She is also an F3 Jericho, which I can’t, quite frankly, get enough of.

That’s it for the old women in the flock. I’m somewhat surprised that I have retained all of them as long as I have, but that is more of an indication of what they produce. There is a lot of diversity in fleece and body types in that group and it’s safe to say none of the younger ewes would exist without these flock matrons. If we had a Shetland ewe Wall of Fame, they would certainly be on it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ewe a day - Treviso

Whispering Pines Treviso is another Itasca daughter that I’ve always liked. Her fleece won first place in a large adult Shetland class last year in Wisconsin. I believe there were 25 fleeces in that class, and most were top notch. She is also a Pompey daughter, one of only three we still have here. Her four year old fleece had an SF of 22.7 microns. She also had two nice lambs this year that we liked.
Treviso 2017

Treviso in May 2013 with mom Itasca
Treviso fleece from 2017 clip

Parted fleece this summer

Treviso's Ewe x Nitro - Gilly


Treviso's ram - didn't retain him

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Ewe a day - English Garden

English Garden was also born in 2011 out of Itasca and our F1 Jericho ram, Little Buckeroo. As Shetlands go, she is rock solid. We sold her a while back and then brought her back in last year because I wanted more Todhill Jericho genetics in our flock. Fleece-wise, she has nice density and length, which is also something we value. Her SF this year was 26.7 microns, which is high for us, but her AFD is 26.8, so that’s not too bad really. I decided a long time ago not to chase micron results and be influenced by them if I liked a particular ewe, and she is an example of that. I was really happy with both her lambs this spring, so I think I am on the right track.

English Garden in 2017

Fleece shot summer 2017
English Garden's ram lamb 2017 - Jon Snow

English Garden's ewe lamb 2017 - Cersei
English Garden Lamb summer 2011

As Newborn with mom Itasca

English Garden and her twin - Enna Ernest

Saturday, November 25, 2017

What I am working on

Found some uncarded Mrs. Hughes tucked away in a paper bag, I sold all her wool as batts during fiber festival season, so this was a happy discovery.  I am just about done with the singles, and will be plying soon - did as a gradient, can't wait to see the finished yarn, she is so soft and lovely.

Started to knit the Bousta Beanie pattern using yarn from Elara, a black fleece we bought from Garrett of White Pines and Vogue.  I plan to make kits of yarn to sell for this specific pattern.  I love the chance to knit with my own homespun yarn.

Cora is complete and all in the shop now as yarn.

I also finished carding Sybil, I got 10 oz of batts which are now in the etsy shop, plus a little extra which I will use for the self striping rolags.  Also ended up with some curly bits that were so coiled and cool, couldn't bear to ruin them by carding.

I want to make up kits to do your own stocking from felted sweaters, it takes me forever to make up kits, I probably won't have done before Christmas at the rate I am going.  

Almost done carding Sybil, so lovely and soft, I've decided this will be going to batts, it has a nice length and I want to share the enjoyment of spinning this pretty wool.

The self striping rolag is no longer an idea, but a reality!  Here is the final hat and a 1 oz skein which will hit the shop today.  The hat used one oz of wool, used size 6 needle for a perfect little cap!

Rich took down the electronet fencing, so that signals the end of warm weather.  Ewes are all coated.  We set up 4 breeding groups on 11/22.  Rich now has 7 separate pens to tend to.  Once we finish the ewe a day blogs, Rich will do a writeup on the groups and his strategy.  But for now, here is what they look like (I don't want to steal his thunder on who we are using and who they are with):

Breeding Group 1

Ram Lambs being retained but not used, can't put in with adult rams until they are bigger.

Breeding Group 2

Breeding Group 3

Ewe lambs - don't breed lambs

Group 4

Adult rams not using this year, but too good to not retain

Ewe a day - Siena

Siena is another Pompey daughter from 2011 who has helped us a lot. She also lacks the fineness that our more recent ewes have, but her great density more than makes up for that. Her SF this year was 25.4 microns. So, Siena, Itasca, English Garden, and Vogue are really the only ewes we have left that are not what we would call Superfine. Each has a purpose, however, and none of them owe us anything.

Sienna baby picture

With her mom Sheltering Pines Cor d Nuit

Siena with her first lamb, Cordovan.  Protective insticts are intact judging by the look on her face and the honor wounds on her poll

Gives her a quick sniff

And yummy

Siena's gorgeous 2017 fleece

our beauty Siena

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ewe a day - Genoa

Whispering Pines Genoa was born in 2011 out of an F1 Orion daughter that we produced. We only got two lambs out of that first (and last) foray into AI, but this one continues to reap rewards. She is out of Pompey Magnus and Shiobhan. This year’s micron test yielded an SF of 23.0 microns. She also produced triplets for us this year, which is the first time that ever happened on our farm.

Genoa's Baby Picture

Genoa and me pretending to be a hand model