Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Shocker




I went out to feed the horses and the llama tonight after I got the sheep and goats in. Carlyn (the father) came over to say hello. He really is like a big dog and loves to be scratched and pet. He was nearly on my lap as I pet him. Lo and behold here comes Mr. Inquisitive over to see what his daddy is so involved in. I nearly got him to sniff me today. When I had Shocker and his mom in a box stall he really seemed to be too frightened so this way he can come up to me when he is ready. Seems to be working. His mother is more standoffish so I didn't expect him to warm up so suddenly but he is. Next we'll try some apple treats!!





More English Trumpeter Photos






As promised here are my 'family' of birds I talked about in the last email. Can you tell they are related? :)

I'm pretty eager to show them this fall and will of course keep you in the loop :)

Grand Champion!




Last Saturday I had the pleasure of going to the English Trumpeter Club of America's Squeaker Show that was held in Onamia, MN at the home of Jeff Krause. After having been in the breed for 15 years it was a surprising, yet satisfying day when I came out with the BEST IN SHOW with a blue bar cock that I raised (pictured above). He was one of the first birds I raised this year and he set up nicely in the show cage and never moved! Perfect stance, angle and the whole works, all with no training prior to the show!



His nestmate, a nice dun hen was also in the Color Class Finals and was agreed upon later by everyone there minus one person that she should have indeed been 3rd overall best bird of the show.

Also a sibling of the above two mentioned birds was a nice smokey bar hen who placed second in her class (behind her brother who won the show). My thoughts were that she too could have placed in the top of the show had we done a Reserve Champion at this show.

These three will be a force to reckon with as they continue to molt out and mature into gorgeous birds. Will keep you updated as to how they do. Our next show is the 2nd weekend in October in Albert Lea, MN. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oliver

My second Cardigan, a red brindle boy I imported from Finland, Oliver, came to the rescue last night! My ram lamb Barish who is an F1 timothy from Cynthia Allen somehow missed the dinner bell and when I counted I must have counted wrong. He somehow squirmed through the cattle panels I have yet to revamp (but I did revamp their entire pasture with new fencing!) and somehow found his way to my doorstep. Oliver saw him and drove him all the way back down to the pasture, around the new fence and up onto the hill on the other side where Barish finally stopped and stood his ground. Oliver stood his ground too and wouldn't let Barish move a muscle until I got there to pick him up. This was Oliver's first REAL interest in the sheep but then again they've never been out when the dogs have been so maybe they just need to get out more so Oliver feels the need to herd?

A second brag on the Big O is that we competed officially for our first Rally Novice leg in Fargo last Sunday. We had a score of 79 so it wasn't perfect but was nonetheless entertaining!! On the final station where I asked him to do a 'moving down' he didn't know what to do for me (flustered I guess because he does know how to do those) he tried jumping up on my lap twice and then finally just jumped up and licked my nose LOL! The crowd loved it and we qualified so that's all that matters! My friends took photos so when they develop the film I will be posting them on here :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Breeding Groups

I've been pondering many of the following thoughts/questions for the past few weeks. In no way am I going to try and offend anyone here or critisize your breeding programs. Then again its my blog........lol

Having gone to school for Animal Science, emphasis in genetics and nutrition I find it rather frightening to see how some people in all species that I keep can vary so much in their interpretation of their written standard. Even more frightening is their reasoning for the breeding "oh their babies would look so CUTE" or "i'll make so much money from this breeding" or other 'RED FLAG' comments that scare me about the future of the species that I love and am committed to.

Having grown up on a farm there are obvious advantages to breeding programs. I've had a full life of learning early (like before my teens) of how important certain qualities are in our species. It seems to me that many people within city limits who are breeding dogs, or parakeets or goldfish or pigeons or whatever do it more for the emotional aspects of it. They do it for fun and because they enjoy it. Is that really what the breeds were intended for? For fun? Sure their enjoyment is inevitable but let's try to reason with ourselves. It seems that those who were born on farms have a better understanding of breeding programs and of things such as butchering, putting animals down, tagging, dehorning and the like. They also understand that the animals were put here for a purpose and that purpose should remain in tact for future generations and breeding should not be taken lightly.

In our dairy cows we emphasized strong feet and legs, correct udder placement, longevity, productivity (long milking history, a calf every year), fertility, temperament.....the list goes on and on (and in no particular order). Not just because they had to milk, but because those traits were things that would keep our animals around longer and keeping our paychecks bigger.

Beef cows we bred for (and still do) good mothering ability, grazing efficiency, high milk (for a beef cow) sound temperament, longevity, fertility, carcass traits (marbling, leanness, yield grade etc) and their list goes on and on.

Pymgy goats we breed for flat and wide pelvis' (those slanted rear ends with narrow pins only creates nightmares during kidding season and that trait is highly heritiable!), the wedge shaped head, adequate rear angualation, sound feed and legs and of course that wonderfully sweet temperament.

In our Cardigans it varies and although I've never bred a litter, I do know what I will be looking for. The proper wrap in front, a proper front that drops with a nice posternum, a level topline with gorgeous rear angulation, level planes on the head with large round ears, wedgeshaped head and colors that are rich and wonderful to look at.

Now for Shetlands. Wow where do I begin? I've done a lot of pedigree researching, trying to figure out lines and trying to figure out where they are coming from and where they are going with their groups. I've visited several local new friends whom I've drilled for information in regards to their breeding programs, their likes and dislikes, their goals, etc. I've asked a lot of questions in regards to nutrition and how it interacts with fleece quality, and I've felt numerous sheep at a few of their homes and really dug into them to try and see what they see and ask questions as to why they like them.

Realizing that the Shetland Sheep breed does not have an official written standard, how does one realize the 'uniformity' of a 'breed'? Obviously each shepherd will realize that their interpretation is different but that is why we have mentors, and judges right? that is who should know all there is to know about the breed, where it came from and where it should be going. Then why so much difference?

I realize that people's goals are going to be different than mine. I realize mine will be different than theirs. I do feel however that we must all be going for the same uniformity overall. So you like short crimpy UK fleeces? Great!! Make sure that they are consistent from neck to britch. I don't think I've seen more than 6 sheep in the past year that are really truly consistent from front to rear. That is a breeding goal that we should work on. Having a ram that falls out at the britch no matter how nice is going to produce those without. Genetically it can't happen. Prove me wrong!

So you like the long primitive Dailey stock? Good for you! Make sure those fleeces are just as consistent as the UK lines or the classic lines. Why should any one 'kind' of shetland have a different fleece ? Sure the length, handle and feel of the wool will be different but that consistency should still be there.

So you like polled animals? Great! Not that many years ago I found that most 'abherent' horns or scurs were frowned upon. Why all of a sudden are they 'ok' to have? If you want polled, you better make sure they are polled, or have those huge horns that are D style like the breed is known for. I've seen some rams with horns that remind me of my motorcycle handbars. Way out and far around. What is that all about? Who said that was acceptable? Do you see what I"m getting at? I don't care if you have them, but geez where did the uniformity of our breed go?

What about colors. Ah yes that question. Modifieds are 'all the rage' right now. But you have to remember they are recessive. And nature made them that way for a reason. In pigeons we have a 6 month turn around for generations so we can get two of them in a year. After breeding pigeons for 15 years I can tell you I have not raised past 3 or 4 generations any type or recessive color without having huge losses due to lower immunity towards diseases, genetic defects i.e. blindness, 6 toes, twisted beaks, etc. You must introduce the 'normal' colors that are dominant and found more often in 'nature'. In one generation you can breed it back and start over. Do everything in moderation!

I don't care if you raise Ag, white, moorit, mioget or emsket but for pity sake NAME THEM RIGHT! I have been trying to figure out the difference between emsket and 'light grey' (Ag) Some Ag has that bluish tint to it. So does emsket. They aren't interchangable (again correct me if I'm wrong) so why are we calling them one if they really aren't? I've been looking at pedigrees and there are numerous pedigrees where the genetics just don't make sense. You cannot have a musket come out of a moorit and an emsket. something tells me that person thought their Ag grey was an emsket. Genetically Ag has to be expressed in order to have it. End of discussion! You cannot get it that way and either a ram jumped the fence and bred a ewe in another pen or you can't tell what your colors are in your own pen. If you don't know, test breed and alter your assumptions by seeing what the results are.

I had a friend in pigeons that had a pair of yellows raise three red babies in two years. Well again, genetically yellow is recessive to red. If they are yellow they cannot be anything but yellow. Come to find out there are red cock birds in the same pen and someone is getting frisky and copulating with that yellow hen. Its good to know your basic genetics.

It really sounds like I"m bitter. I'm not! I"m trying to educate. I'm not going to say I know it all, or know everything about Shetlands or about animal genetics or about farming. But I hope that this makes you rethink your decisions as to why to breed something.

So while you are out in your coops, your pastures or your paddocks this year and you are planning next year's babies please try to keep the emotional aspect of it out. Cute might sell but is it really for the betterment of the breed?

*turns and steps off of soapbox and exits stage right*

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

New Ewes


RYL Rachildas is a white ewe who carries a bunch of 'secrets'. That silly white covers it all up. I decided I needed to have one white ewe in the flock and figured I should get one that will throw a bunch of interesting stuff. She has already thrown a bersugget, whites and also black so there is a ton of potential with her. She is being bred to a F1 Skeld son this fall.







Bono Creek Lavender Brown is a dark fawn with a lot of potential. She has bred many fine lambs for Cynthia and that was the only reason I was able to 'steal' her away from her :) She will be bred to Jazz this fall.





Justalit'l Chloe is a fawn katmoget (homozygous for katmoget too) out of Underhill Bartok who is an F1 Minder son. Chloe was bred to Toddhill Jericho this year and had two amazing lambs. She will be bred to Jazz (an F1 Todhill Jericho son) in hopes of repeating this great breeding.





RYL Corild is a black primitive fleeced ewe that is out of the Blackfeather Duncan (son of Wind River Mackenzie). She is now five years old and just starting to show iset in her flank area. I'd say at five that that is ok. Better than on a lamb fleece! She is going to be bred to Jazz as well in hopes of 'improving' the fleece, while maintaing that jet black fleece.




PiLo is a gorgeous grey katmoget whose father is V Creek Silver. On her mother's side, her grandsire is Bramble Conner a very gorgeous white ram. She microned with a 24.1 AFD, 6 SD, 24.1 CV and fibers over thirty only 18. I'm very excited to have her joining the flock.

New faces at White Pine Shetlands




I decided to add some photos taken by Cynthia while they were at her house (for the time being until I can get new updated photos). The top photo is of my other F1 ram lamb, Barish. As you remember he is an F1 Timothy and Minwawe Boppitty. The second photos is of a white ewe lamb, Rahu. As she has matured she has gotten a ton of phaeo on her legs, face and neck. She is a Forrest daughther (black gulmoget F2 Roban Dillon) and RYL Rachildas who is also white (and I also purchased her). She is white and carries gulmoget so am excited for that. Her half sister is the black gulmoget girl named Tailka out of the same sire and out of a jet black ewe named FirthofFifth Twiling. Both of her parents microned around 21 or 22 AFD with very low SD. As you can tell I'm pretty excited about these youngsters. Will keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

F1 ram lambs!

My main reason for joining the Scrapie program was to take advantage of the AI program and the UK genetics. My good friends Cynthia, Karen and Meghan were doing some AI at their farms and I looked forward to seeing their results. They had a phenominal year with some superb F1 ewe lambs and ram lambs.


I am fortunate enough to be getting two F1 ram lambs. The photo provided above is of Wintertime Jazz who is a Toddhill Jericho son out of Whistlestop 0427 a black ewe whose father is Drum Ram, and grandsire is Drum Jings. With all this UK influence this puts Jazz at 87% UK, one of the highest percentages UK in the USA today. Jazz is a medium grey ram lamb with perfect katmoget markings, perfect horns and a very crimpy, intermediate fleece. Jazz had spots on his rump when he was born so we know that he will throw spots as well! His brother is going to be an emsket katmoget so he has the potential to also throw modified colors. He is a VERY EXCITING addition to my breeding program and I look forward to what his lambs will look like, over a variety of colored and patterned ewes. Stay tuned for more news!

My second F1 ram lamb, Barish, is an F1 Timothy son. He is one of the last F1's that there will be out of Timothy as all of his frozen semen is now sold and/or used. Barish has a square, solid body, with good horns and tail. His mother is Minwawe Boppitty whose mircron report came back very good, AFD 23.5, SD 6.2 and fibers over thirty microns only 13.3! Barish is a medium grey katmoget with soft, crimpy fleece. Barish also has the capability to produce emsket as he carries modified and that is something we will try and work towards with him. This fall he will be placed with a nice variety of ewes to see just what his potential will be. I'll keep you posted! A photo of him will be coming soon!

Thanks Peeps!



These two photos show Minwawe Lyra, a black smirslet, sokket, bronget from Peeps. The first photo is of her as a baby, the second is one when she is about 6 weeks old. Now at 10 weeks old she is very beautiful and I cannot wait to see what her fleece test is when I send it in this fall! She will be bred to my new F1 ram I will talk about in the next post.

These two photos show Minwawe Skippy as a baby who was moorit and now has modified into a nice looking fawn girl. She is also very feminine and am anxious to see her develop more as she grows up!


Here we have Minwawe Slipper. She is a smirslet with two 'anklets' instead of sokkets ha ha. She is from Peeps' ewe named Bippitty and I just so happen to be getting an F1 Timothy ram lamb that has Bippitty as his grandma! Slipper is a very friendly ewe lamb and I'm excited to see how she develops.

THANKS AGAIN PEEPS!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Mini Shepherd gathering happened on Sunday at Gail VonBargen's farm. Gail, myself and Mary Ellen Kelly aka "Peeps" were there. We enjoyed a few hours of sheep talk, stories and education (thanks ladies!). Gail supplied the great steaks (and they were great because they were SIMMENTAL, just like my cattle!) and the wonderful lamb brats. I tried my hand for I believe the 2nd time in my life to grill and it was 'decent' I think!

Many thanks to Peeps for entrusting your girls with me, they are so adorable and nice, thank you again! Thanks also for driving them up this far north, at least it wasn't 95 like the day before!

Gail's lambs all had grown so much since I had last seen them, when was it, May? Almost every ram lamb had beautiful horns and all lambs were friendly 'enough' and typey. Thanks Gail for the idea of us meeting at your place! Make sure Bourbon behaves himself with your boys!

A breed I can't stay away from

its true I guess that I would be first known for the fine wooled Shetland Sheep that I have procured and traveled across the USA and UK to ...