Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meet the ewe - RiverOaks Eliza

River Oaks Eliza - S19622

AwtAa, B?Bb, SSS?, white ewe, single born 5.2.05

18.75% UK

Eliza was originally purchased to use in AI last fall. The night before the sponges were to be pulled, hers fell out, not enabling us to use her in the AI. So THIS year we have CIDRs instead of sponges and those things do NOT come out easily! She will be bred to Campaign Timothy this fall.

Eliza was purchased from her breeder, Becky Utecht for her greyling genetics. At the time I knew of very few animals with any of his line left in my neck of the woods and thought I should get her. Her fleece is around 4" in staple length, it is very soft to feel and crimpy. She's a nice bodied ewe who carried and raised twins nicely and quickly on grass alone. She has one of the largest udders I've ever seen and told Becky often that she had 'Holstein udders' on her Shetland ewes :) Obviously Becky has a great forage system!

Below is Eliza's 2009 micron. This was her fourth fleece. In my opinion you can't get much better than that! I don't for see it moving much more as she matures, but I'm sure she'll like to prove me wrong!

Thanks to Becky, these next two micron reports are from her. Below is her 2009 micron report.

Eliza's yearling micron (full lamb fleece)

I really am hoping for a cute white ewe lamb out of her, or a wonderful moorit or black ram. I just don't see many good white ewes out there (or any white ewes for that matter) and think that everyone should have at least a few white sheep on their farm!

The Simmental Breed of Cattle

Its a rainy day and my back is still thrown out from holding and catching sheep yesterday for blood draws.

I thought it would be interesting to refresh my memory of my beloved Simmental breed.

This link is a great summation of the Simmental breed, but I wanted to quote a few things from this article.

*The American Simmental Association registers over 80,000 animals YEARLY in the USA alone! We are in the top four registries in the US for amount of calves registered each and every year. Truly NOT a rare or heritage breed.

From our associations webpage:

*Simmental as a breed are number 2 in the WORLD for number of animals (registered only, with unregistered there are undoubtedly many more) only behind the Brahma breed.

*The Simmental has between 40 and 60 MILLION registered animals worldwide! Being the 2nd largest and most popular breed certainly has its benefits.

*Even though there are 80 MN State Simmental Association members, there are closer to 400 breeders of Simmental in just MN alone. Truly a worthy breed to think about if you are thinking of getting cattle.

More links:

Meet the ewe - ShelteringPines Fleur de Lis

I've been neglectful of the 'meet the ewe' series so I should continue on!

ShelteringPines Fleur de Lis - S25993

smirslet gray katmoget ewe - twin born 3.13.07

AbAa, BBB?, SsSs

Fleur as a lamb at Stephen's took my breath away. Her solid conformation, her katmoget pattern and her cute and wide smirslet face won me over. When Stephen decided to let her go, I had to jump at the chance. Her parents were wonderful representatives of the breed and both were spotted. Her sire, Underhill Thelonius Monk went to Canada, and her dam moved on to another farm in the US. Below is Fleur in nearly full fleece. Her staple length is 4-5 inches and is single coated. Her fleece sold immediately after shearing.

Below is her 2009 micron as a two year old. Look at how HIGH the numbers are on the left of the graph. That's a great thing :) She has a larger crimp than is typical of UK style Shetlands, but has a low SD and CV, which means she is highly improvable towards finer AFDs in her lambs, when bred to the proper rams. This past year I had her bred to Jazz, and got a gorgeous black krunet ewe I named Festus. (two wildly spotted katmogets and i get a black krunet! That's my luck!) She was a big girl at birth, and just a single, but her fleece is jet black and lovely to dig my fingers into. Better yet she is probably the nicest conformed ewe lamb from this year. Fleur this fall is going to be AI'ed to Greenholme Holly in hopes of spots and finer fleece.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Farming as a way of life

For the past 117 years this farm has been a way of life for FIVE generations in my family. Farms as most of you know do NOT have a secondary income, do not have off the farm jobs and everything that we have, has come from farming the land or making milk with our dairy cows or meats with our beef cattle, pigs and now sheep. For a farm to make it through five generations, something must be working.

I cannot fathom living any other life. This life is not easy, nor would I want it to be. The new and daily challenges that it brings, can only make a family stronger, body, soul and mind.

Farming MUST make money to continue in existence. As a young child I cried every time I had to sell one of my cows because they were poor performers in some field (calving, milking, putting pounds on a calf etc) or were old, losing molar teeth, bad feet etc. I promised I would try and breed better animals that were more sound, healthier, lived longer (longevity), milkier, easy keepers with low input. I"m proud to say our family has attained some success but our work is NEVER done. I feel there is always room for improvement.

Its nice to have pets to scratch on their backs or under their chins but in the reality that is farming, we have to sometimes let those go, even if they are our cherished friends. In truth, new friendly animals find their way to us and we have new friends to scratch and tell our secrets too :)

Today I just had the vets come out to draw blood samples on 54 mature sheep. It took 6.5 hours (what could have happened DID happen). Do I have the 1,000 dollars to pay for all the testing, the lab fee, the vet visit and their hourly rates? Its a priority to me and I make arrangements to have it done. Its something I feel strongly about and don't think you need to do it. But I must admit its a good selling point. People feel 'safer' buying from someone who has tested for these blood diseases and micron tests. Those are two of the very first questions asked when I get emails regarding sales. Do I do it for the sales? they sure help pay for stuff, but ultimately for the health of my flock and the strain on my body/mind are the main points. I get paranoid about having any sheep or cow or pigeon that is sick or unthrifty. The more I can do to keep them healthy, the better.!

Dogs are also a huge part of our farm operation. If we didn't have herding dogs, breeds that have been around for hundreds or thousands of years (just check out the 24ish breeds in the herding group with AKC) we would be lost. The dogs not only bring us the livestock, but they do it in a calm and easy manner, something a 4wheeler or person could never do. These dog breeds were MEANT to work on the farm, period. I wouldn't have any other type of dog than a herding dog. Especially since I live on a working farm.

Integrity. I stand behind my animals. Their health, their quality, their purpose. I would think any farmer would. The proof is when you have repeat customers. They are the best advertisement you can have :) And I thank my customers....those that have purchased beef (breeding stock, stock for feedlots and those that purchased meat) pork, (meat purchases), lamb (breeding stock, fleeces and meat..yes all three), pigeons for pets or breeding stock and soon to be dogs. Being a multi-faceted farm is like any 'old school' farm, where diversity ran rampant and the concentration of one species in climate controlled barn was never thought of.

Our family farm works. Plain and simple. It has to, or we wouldn't have jobs, a place to live or a paycheck. I have no one else to pay for my bills, no spouse to work off the farm to make the real money. Its just me. And I need livestock that sells and produces goods whether it be meat, milk, breeding stock or fleece. And I think I'm doing just fine thank you!

Just a few weeks...

...until my sister and her family move into their new home just 1/2 a mile through the fields from my sheep pasture. With them will be their dogs.

I encourage everyone to check my archives on this horrendous act of killing my goats.

And for a better story yet, please read this in its entirety.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Visiting the Bluff Country

I spent ALL of yesterday driving. I left yesterday at 7am and drove down to Zumbrota, MN to the animal auction. It is exactly four hours away from my home and I brought 7 Shetland ram lambs that were not of breeding quality, and two ewes that were no longer being productive. It was my very first trip to the auction market with sheep, and as hard as it was to see them run down the lane to their pen, a sense of satisfaction and relief swept over me knowing that I will have less mouths to feed this winter and more room to concentrate on the animals I want to keep. I still do have several ram lambs available in case anyone was wondering :)

Below is a view almost immediately after you get off of Interstate. This reminds me a lot of west central Wisconsin too.

I was hoping to stop and see Nancy but I didn't have her number! Thankfully Juliann came to the rescue! I left Nancy a message and as I was driving to and through her town to get my next purchase, I came upon this sign. No WONDER Nancy lives here! :)

I'll give the town some WAS a Sunday and early afternoon at that so it was not the most bustling town I've seen. I stopped to fill up gas at one of the gas stations here and took a photo op!

More of the countryside.....gorgeous reds, browns and dark yellows left on the trees here.

This was right on the Mississippi River looking at the land on the MN side. Just gorgeous!

My purpose for this visit to the Bluff Country was to pick up a purebred Texel from Dr. Charles Wray. He is well known for selling top registered, purebred Texel rams for thousands of dollars at their annual sales. He does his own ET (Embryo Transfer) on his ewes and he also heavily does AI to the best UK sires he can find. I was put in contact with him last year after the Jefferson show where Mark had told me where he had gotten his Texel ram from. Mark and I chatted about his Texel over the winter and I went to Dr. Wray's website and really was impressed with what he was doing.

This summer when I went to visit Brenda's BFLs I was able to see their ram, Igor (or is it Egor?) and was really impressed with him. This year after the Jefferson show, when I brought home my Shetland-Cheviots and my Shetland Mules, and was instructed by our UK judge Mr Stott to get one, my first thought was to contact Dr. Wray. After a few phone calls and emails, this is the ram lamb he picked for me (much to my pleading that HE pick one out for me as he KNOWS the breed far better than I).

I wanted to call him "Tex" but figured Theresa and her husband Jeff would call their Texel Tex...following suit of "Cheever" the Cheviot and "Ol Blue" the Bluefaced Leicester. I didn't think we needed TWO Tex's in our small circle :) So I thought maybe "Hans" as that sounds Dutch, but realized "Champ" was more suiting for him.

Champ is nearly 97% UK, out of many many many generations of AI and ET (embryo transfer) and tested negative for OPP, Johne's, CL, and Blue Tongue (per my request). He is also registrable and is Scrapie genotyped QR. I purchased him unregistered as I could not foresee getting into breeding Texels, but Dr. Wray tried very hard to sell the breed to me :) Champ also is an ET offspring out of three more generations of ET procedures (not to mention the imported semen again).

Below is Champ unstacked. I will hope to get new photos of him after breeding season.

Here is Champ with one of the Shetland-Cheviot ewes that I purchased from Theresa and Jeff.

Same two sheep, different pose.

And here is the happy Champ with his 5 girls for the fall. The two Shetland mules are in the foreground, and the three Shetland-Cheviot ewes are in the back with Champ. All of the animals weigh between 90 and 100 pounds as 7 month olds, all just on pasture.
Another reason Champ was purchased from Dr. Wray, not only because of the wonderful genetics, but was that Dr. Wray, being a veterinarian also believes in forage based farming, and his ewes and lambs are raised only on pasture (spring through fall) and hay (winter).

This small 3-Tier system is here for the data standpoint. If I can get data for side by side comparisons for the Shetland Mules AND the Shetland-Cheviot crosses, I can do lamb, growth, weaning, carcass trait comparisons side by side to see which is the better cross for this area of Minnesota. And then the hard sell to those huge meat sheep breeders that live all around me. Suffolk, Polypay, Dorset, Hampshires, Columbias, etc. I hope that by having hard data with evidence in the form of spreadsheets AND live animals, that I'll be able to make some converts.

That corn keeps getting more expensive.......grass is going to be the new way to do sheep business period. I hope they can get on the boat while its still docked here :)

After picking up Champ I headed to La Crosse, WI to meet Cynthia and her husband Christopher to pick up three of their ewes I am borrowing for my AI. There is never enough time in the day to talk to those two and I told them we have to stop meeting this gas station parking lots trading sheeps and goods :) Soon a trip to their farm is needed, to just relax and talk sheep. SOON!

A long drive home it took me about 5 and 1/2 hours to get home around 9:30pm, and then I had to unload sheep and put them into their respective pens.

Champ didn't know what to think at first of his ladies but after a night with them, I swear he is smiling!

I am super impressed with this Texel ram and if any of you ever think about using one as a crossing ram in any situation, I would highly recommend Dr. Wray and his Portland Prairie Texels!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More F1 rams available

I have several other F1s available as well.

WhitePine Solomon SOLD- black ram - Campaign Timothy x Justalit'l Shasta. Solomon carries spots, possibly carries moorit and is 62.5% UK. He is intermediate in fleece with a soft handle, but little crimp.

Solomon was stretching after just getting up, but he is 4-square and otherwise nice conformation. He'll have more UK style horns.

WhitePine Rufus SOLD is also 62.5% UK out of Heights Orion x FirthofFifth Rooibos. He is more of a fawn color and again in intermediate in fleece with larger crimp in the fleece. His right horn (your left) lost its casing in the fenceline when he was quite young so it doesn't look as symetrical as it could.

Rufus was NOT cooperating this day...he was frozen solid/stiff and I could not hardly get a good photo

Close up of his fleece mid side.

WhitePine Phineas is out of Heights Orion x Underhill Peep. 75%UK F1 Orion,F3Greyling/F3Jamie. He is musket with possible poll gene (super slow growing horns)

He appears to be single coated with no glaring faults other than he appears to fall at the britch and is a bit narrow from the rear. He doesn't always look like that but sometimes, while resting, standing up he tends to look narrow. Maybe I'm being overly critical.A fleece shot mid side. He has not been microned.

WhitePine Philemon - twin brother to Phineas. His lamb micron was AFD 20.9, SD 6.2, CV 29.4, fibers less than 15 micron was 13.2%!! CF of 90.1% He has a long single coated staple with tiny crimp. He has full horns and is fawn/moorit in color. I was going to hang on to him but have rams wtih lower CV than he does. Wool on poll and cheeks, I cant seem to find fault in him, other than his higher CV.

If you biggify you may be able to see his lovely tiny crimp.

Friday, October 23, 2009

F1 ram lamb available

I have decided to part with WhitePine Uphaz, a musket smirslet sokket F1 Minder ram lamb. His lamb micron was AFD 22.4, SD 5.7, CV 25.7, CEM 10.8, CF 90% with fibers less than 15u 4.8%.

He is 69% UK out of Shirehill Minder and Underhill Ulla. He carries Aa (solid) and is brown based. AND he is spotted!! I didn't know before this but Minder was a spot carrier! One of very few F1s that are spotted, that is for sure.

His lamb photos:
Above he is just born.....

Below he and his brother Ulam grazing.
And again....(with mom right behind them)
And their lovely tails and rears.

if anyone is interested further, please email me for a more current photo and pricing.

CIDRs in!

19 Shetlands and 2 BFLs were inserted today with CIDRs. I myself am hoping to AI 18 shetlands and both BFLs and having someone lease another ewe from me for the AI.

Overall I'm extremely pleased with the girls I've chosen and look forward to the AI date and more importantly the lambing :) Several girls seem, ahem.....more receptive....than others so I feel like the rest of the girls should be cycling normal now, as we have had some super low night time temps (its currently 27 F at 11pm)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Change of Plans

After a lack of sleep last night from a fear of breeding the AI ewes to the wrong rams, I conferred with my mentor, whom I respect highly and appreciate her opinion more than anyone else!

After much discussion both pros and cons this will be my final decision on the ewes to AI. the CIDRs go in on Friday. 18 Shetlands and 2 BFLs, read on about all of them! (maybe get a cup of coffee or tea).

I still after all of this is said and done will have 9 straws of semen to use down the it next year or 5 years...depends on how my lambs keep turning out :)

Campaign Timothy - black ram - a ram with unknown microns, a more intermediate fleece type that was not super consistent. His strengths were his perfect horns, his non iset fleece at 8 years of age and conformation that was astounding. These ewes we picked for him are ewes that are consistent in fleece and its structure, soft, crimpy fleeces. They excel in conformation as well so the lambs should have spot on conformation, with hopes of improving fleece style and consistency.

Timothy will be bred to the following three ewes:

WhitePine Centennial - gray katmoget ewe 56% UK F2 Jericho F3 Minder F3 Drum Ram etc
AFD 26.7, SD 4.9, CV 18.3%, CEM 8.6

RiverOaks Eliza - white ewe 18% UK - (Holly and Greyling genetics) four year old ewe.
AFD 26.6, SD 5.6, CV 21.1, CEM 10.8

OwlHill Pranilla - gray ewe 75%UK F1 Greyling, F2 Orion
AFD 29.9, SD 5.9, CV 19.8, CEM 10.2.

Greenholme Holly - blaget black ram - Holly is a proven poll carrier and some have said he is a modfied ram or carries it. Not much else is known about this ram from trying to find any information. The thing to remember about these rams that were in the first importation was that they were used on ewes that are not of the caliber of todays current ewe flock. That being said I think the results will be better as the ewes overall have better conformation and fleece qualities that I can find any information on. Again someone correct me if I'm mistaken!

Holly will get the following two ewes:

RiverOaks Lucy - gray katmoget ewe - proven poll carrier (produced my Levi this year from a non poll carrier ram Jamie). She is F3 Dillon F3/F4 Holly. I wouldn't really call it a linebreeding as its fourth generation now in the lamb, but it still goes back to Holly :)
AFD:27.7, SD 4.9, CV 17.8, CEM 7.9

ShelteringPines Fleur de Lis - smirslet gray katmoget ewe. F3/F3 Minder, F4 Holly, F4 Timothy, etc. I'm trying for spots with this breeding as well as a good fleece improvement incase the ram is super high, since we don't know his tests.
AFD: 27.3, SD 5.8, CV 21.3, CEM 11

Willowcroft Jamie - moorit ram. His conformation and depth of color were stunning and he had no iset in his fleece as a mature ram. I'm saving one of these straws for a future breeding, and the other is going to:

FirthofFifth Rahu- white illget ewe F3 Dillon, F4/F4 Lightning, F4 Greyling. Her conformation and fleece structure are fabulous! Her lambs have been great and her numbers are very promising from an improvement standpoint. She carries solid and 'could' carry moorit. I'm dying to find out!
AFD 27.6, SD 5.1, CV 18.6, CEM 9.2

Heatheram Lightning - white ram- I was so surprised to have SIX different breeders inquire about white ewes this past year, and didn't raise a single white ewe lamb! Aside from my four white ewes and a white F1 Orion ram I'm using this fall I thought it wise to use a few of these Lightning straws I had here. He carries black so we could have the possibility of something other than white, but white we are hoping for! Lightning in the photo I have seen of him seems to be quite large and long, with a 'coarse' looking face. By breeding him to two typey, feminine ewes with more breed characteristic, and finer fleeces, we are hoping for the whole package. I can be optimistic right?

FirthofFifth Koosi - gray katmoget - F1 Jericho F3 Minder etc. Proven producer and homozygous katmoget. Even the white lambs will carry katmoget so that is good to know! Consistent from front to her rear, with crimpy, even lock structure.
AFD 25.6, SD 4.4, CV17.2, CEM 7.2

BlackForest Tilly - black gulmoget - F3 Dillon etc. I had thought about using her to Orion but wanted to use those straws on solid black carrying moorit or moorit ewes to try and find those fine fleeced solid ewes and rams!
AFD 22.8, SD 5.7, CV 24.1, CEM 12.7

Shirehill Minder - Ag katmoget (moorit based). I've heard he carries or is modified and he is a proven spot producer too! I was really impressed with his ram lambs out of Ulla this year. Consistent from front to rear, very crimpy and decent microns for lambs. Not super fine but not garbage (25.5 and 25.7 AFD). Conformation and horns are stunning on them and I needed to use Minder on different styles of ewes to see what i could get:

FirthofFifth Taika - black gulmoget. She was my last 'meet the ewe' in my previous blog post

OwlHill Butter - musket - F2 Greyling F2/F3 Orion F4 Holly etc. A tall, large bodied yearling who has super soft and crimpy/consistent fleece. I am praying for no AgAg lambs but I'm sure if I got one it would be nice :)
AFD 24.4, SD 5.6, CV23.1

Justalit'l Chloe - fawn katmoget. yes she's homozygous. I can only get fawn katmogets or fawn Ag katmogets from this pairing. Chloe has really proven herself with AI to Jericho and to Holly. This will be a linebreeding as she is F2 Minder. she previous post on 'meet the ewe'

ShelteringPines Nessebar - smirslet gray katmoget. carries moorit and spots. Minder produces spots and is moorit based. The worst? Ag katmogets or AgAa lambs or homozygous katmogets. If the fleece is great why complain? Greyling, Minder, Timothy lines.

Todhill Jericho - homozygous gray katmoget. carries moorit and spotting. He is one of the two rams who I think can do the most for the NA flocks. His micron test was 25 AFD and his lambs fleeces that I've seen are incredible (think Jazz/Blues and Koosi). Since all he can throw is MORE katmoget, I'm using him selectively.....

Justalit'l Black Lambo - black ewe, no iset at nearly 9 years old. Lambo has proven herself as a producer to Dillon, Orion and hopefully to Jericho. She truly is a great ewe! Check her 'meet the ewe' profile for more info on her.

FifthofFifth Ashegon - moorit ewe - F2 Jericho. Yes we are breeding her back to her grandsire. A linebreeding may be wise in this situation. Again all lambs will be katmoget but will carry Aa (solid). Its a win:win situation
AFD 23.5, SD 5.2, CV22.2, CEM 9.8

ShelteringPines Nirvana - horned gray katmoget ewe - F3 Minder F4 Timothy/Holly/Holly/Jamie. She really produced with Blues this past year giving me two great ewe lambs so wanted to see what she'd do bred back to Jericho.
AFD 28.5, SD 5.9, CV 20.6, CEM 10.2

Heights Orion - moorit modified ram - with the ultimate in fleece improvement and modifier genes. Wide sweeping horns, consistent from neck to britch, he's been our best import to date in terms of fleece fineness. His 5 or 6 year old fleece microned at 26 AFD. Amazing for that old of ram here in North America. I used him heavily last year and was impressed with most of his offspring. This year he is going to three solid ewes to improve those lines in my flock.

OwlHill Miss Lilly - F1/F4 Holly, F2 Orion black ewe that carries moorit. She is 81.25% UK, my highest % ewe and consistent from front to rear, conformation is spot on and she looks as though she can really produce put to anything! Thanks again Susan :)
AFD 28.5, SD 5, CV 17.5, CEM 8

FirthofFifth Ashanti - moorit smirslet F3 Dillon, F4 Timothy with a gorgeous deep moorit color and so consistent. I'm really hoping Orion might carry spots? :) Regardless the lambs will be moorit and soft and that is what I'm hoping for!
AFD 26.1, SD 5.2, CV 19.9, CEM 9.2

WhitePine Skor - shaela ewe. My first homebred girl that I retained for purebred breeding. Please check our her 'meet the ewe' blog post from earlier today.

That's 18 Shetland ewes I've decided on using. Underhill Ulla who I thought I'd use on Orion, is instead going to an F1 mioget Orion son Ephraim instead. Ephraim thanked me :)

The two BFLs that I am AI'ing are both going to Beeston Titan who is a heavier fleeced ram that was collected and imported. Both girls I am using are finer fleeced mother/daughter duo.

Beechtree Kearsley - homozygous white ewe. Always produces nice pigemented lambs. She only has two UK rams in her background so I can use her in just about any direction.

Beechtree Kershope - white ewe carries color. Again lovely pigment in her. She's also finer fleeced so breeding to a heavier fleeced ram should do them both good in that department! Thanks Lisa for letting me get the Titan semen from you!

Meet the ewe - FirthofFifth Taika

FirthofFifth Taika - S25033

black gulmoget ewe, single born 4.28.07

AbAa, BBB?, SSS?, 44% UK

Taika was my very first gulmoget. I was dying to get one and Cynthia graciously allowed me to have one. Taika had very minimal side dusting as a lamb and it wasn't apparent until after her first shearing that she was going to have more of it. I'm not sure if she carries moorit, but could, and she is a full sister to Tilly, who I wrote about a few ewes ago.

Above is Taika and her daughter Talitha who is a Barish daughter from May of 2009. Taika looks dainty but she is not as refined as her full sister Tilly. This was one day after shearing.

Below is her 2009 micron report. Again, slightly higher CV but very workable.Most importantly, look at how HIGH up the left side goes. That means she has a ton of fibers at those numbers...which is a good thing :)

Below is 2008 micron. The overall histo looks the same for most of these girls.

I'm breeding her to Minder this fall. While she has a nice histo, it is a bit to the right trailing. I'm being selfish and wanting an Ag Gulmoget >:)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meet the ewe - WhitePine Skor

WhitePine Skor - S26419

Shaela ewe, single, born 5.6.07

AaAa, BBBb, SSS?, 28%UK

This was my very best home bred lamb my first year of lambing. She was born jet black to a ewe who had this very same coloring. As a lamb her first fall she looked dark brown, but upon shearing time, she was the same pewter color that her mother, Meleng was. As she has aged, her color gets more pronounced with each season. Last year she was bred to Barish in hopes of getting an emsket (he carries modified as well). This fall she be going to Heights Orion as he throws a lot of modified lambs (and hoping again for emsket) and always improves fleeces. If Orion can't do it, you don't have much else out there.
Skor's 2009 micron. She and her mother had always had really low AFDs but higher CVs. Orion's super low CV will hopefully improve Skor's rather high CV

Skor's 2008 micron (yearling) tests.
Its interesting that most of my ewes are black based but yet still carry moorit. Skor is one of these ewes. I have very few AaAa ewes as I've tended to keep sheep based on their micron tests and handle (and structure) rather than having an equal amount of all patterns/colors. As you can see most of my flock is not spotted, nor solid bodied due to this fact. Perhaps its just the lines I'm working with? But when I do get spotted or solid animals they are blessings! I have 4 black ewe lambs and 3 moorit ewe lambs i've retained in these very hopes!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Jazz's fleece

This is my Jazz's lamb fleece. He is a gray katmoget with the blue hue to most of his fleece. I had no idea it would spin up like this! How AWESOME!

I finally found someone to make me something out of his fleece. Since I haven't learned how to spin (yet) I really wanted something to remember a few of my special sheep by. A gal named Lisa Christensen came up one weekend to look at whethers for a fiber flock. After much discussion she opted to take raw fleeces instead. I then told her how I wanted something made out of my special sheep and she said she'd willingly and gladly do it! I was so stunned! And very appreciative!

I am going to have a scarf and hat made out of this lamb fleece of his. This is what she said about it: "Garrett, Here's a pict of the spun yarn. It's a 3-ply worsted weight and super soft. The color is awesome and the fiber really shines in the light."

After seeing this yarn and how that actually came off of MY sheep, I have this huge desire to learn how to do that too! Not that I really have the time of the patience, but after seeing that, it makes me want to learn how....even if its not super pretty when I do it!

I have another fleece I would like made into something. Its a shaela/pewter color and want something made out of it. What else for a GUY could it be made into? A sweater? more hat and scarfs? I guess I don't realize what can be made with wool. I think its too fine for socks.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Meet the ewe - Underhill Ulla

Underhill Ulla - S18254

moorit ewe, single born 4.20.03

AaAa, BbBb, SSSs, carries spots. dynamite conformation and breed type, 38% UK

Wool on poll, crimpy, solid, wide and square ewe. She's not super friendly but they don't ALL have to be. This is a business folks!
Ulla in June with only a few weeks worth of wool on her. Look at her nice condition :)

Ulla's 2009 micron. This past year she was AI'ed to Minder and I got two lovely ram lambs. A musket smirslet sokket and a light badgerface. This fall she is going to be AI'ed again....this time to Heights Orion. I need more moorits! (and less katmogets!)

Meet the ewe - Justalit'l Chloe

Justalit'l Chloe - S15371

Fawn Katmoget ewe, single born 4.2.03

AbAb, BbBb, SSSs, 31% UK F2 Minder

This gorgeous homozygous katmoget ewe is just a sweetheart of a ewe, as well as a superb mother.

Below is Chloe relaxing with her 2009 twin katmoget ram lamb out of Greenholme Holly, named WhitePine Caiphas. He does carry moorit and solid and his fleece was wonderful in lamb micron testing, and it is BLUE and super crimpy. Also note the huge horns!

Below is her 2008 micron. You can see that yes she is over 30 AFD, but she is so highly improvable that I've retained all of her offspring born here...three ewes and a ram lamb.

Below is her 2009 micron. She is now six years old and believe that after three years of microning her, her numbers will stay about the same at this point. I'm also going to be using her going on three year old daughter Koosi whose numbers are just unbeatable: AFD 25.6, SD 4.4, CV 17.2, CEM 7.5 and CF87.2. She is homozygous gray katmoget as both her mom (Chloe) and her sire (Todhill Jericho) are both homozygous katmoget. With numbers like that Chloe is a gem!

I'm so fortunate to have had the ability to use Chloe, but after next year, she will be available for sale as I will have so many of her offspring here to replace Chloe, some other flock certainly deserves her wonderful lines.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A few promising heifers

Speaking of calves....

These first two photos are out of my 3rd generation home bred bull, SenSim Tuscon, a black baldy bull, purebred Simmental (not fullblood, purebred...and yes there is a difference). This is SenSim Rosa. She is out of SenSim Reagan (who also is the aunt to the black baldy yes these two girls are sisters AND aunt/ very related) a gorgeous dark cherry red cow. Rosa's EPDs (expected progeny data) are just astounding, in the top 25% of the breed for 10 of the 13 top traits that the ASA (American Simmental Association follows). For my 'commercial' herd this past year we put black bulls over all of my reds, and my dads blacks and we got both red and black calves in both groups. This year, with smaller numbers we combined the two groups into one. This girl Rosa has everything I want in a replacement heifer, except I wish she had goggles around her eyes (pigment helps keep pink eye and skin cancer from sunburning at bay)

No I didn't just change the color of the calf in PhotoShop :P This is SenSim Renata out of SensSim Tuscon and SenSim Regina (daughter of Reagan). She looks almost identical to Rosa except for color of her hide. Her numbers are also breathtaking with nearly all of her EPDs in the top 15-25% of the breed. Both girls are being retained. Renata is slightly stretched in this photo but hey...she was standing still, with her head up. Something near impossible for me to get in the cattle OR the shee! And its they are kinda wet.

This little cutie of a calf is my favorite spotty of the year. I only had three spotted heifers (two of which are actually spotted, the other is just a carrier) and they were all born the first part of July , so only three months old. I havent' name her yet, but she is a stinker...finding ways to get in and out of the fence without leaving a trace. She kinda looks smug in this photo, doesn't she?
Below are three of my original four Guinea hens. They are ALL four HENS too. These are the plain Pearls, with one also being Pied.

AI breedings in our cattle

Its always fun to switch it up a bit. I know some of you like to hear about my pigeons and cattle from time to time, as this IS a farm blog, not just a sheep blog :)

My dad and I did some interesting things with the cattle this year. First of all we sold quite a few cows as bred cows this past winter/early spring and then sold some this fall as bred cows. We had to lease a Red Angus bull this year, for commercial calves next year for dad's black cows and my solid red cows. The Simmental x Angus and Simmental x Red Angus seem to be the most sought after commercial crosses right now, so I thought I might as well get a premium for my commercial calves right?

I also imported two bulls from the UK to use. This year we are using Corskie Radium, shown below. This guy has been bred to 8 cows, with hopes of adding length, bone, capacity and milkieness to my tradtionally marked girls.
The bull below is a bull from the late 80's, early 90's called SSR Polled Ringeye. I was able to purchase a few remaining straws of him and the final two were used this year. Both cows are confirmed bred to him, so I'm excited to see what I will get out of him as well.
Another bull from the same time frame and Ringeye is DS Polltime. He's a yellow baldy that I purchased 30 straws of. I'm really excited to see what the two girls I bred to him this year will produce. I have only one yellow cow left and she is crazy wild, but I have retained her as she is my ONLY yellow cow. Many of my red cows carry yellow but haven't thrown it yet, so I'm hoping to get a few more yellow calves next year by using this bull.

We in the past ran three herds of Simmental here during breeding time (May-September) and had them in different pastures. My dad's black cows went to a black bull for commerical calves, and my solid red or baldy red cows went to either a red bull or a black bull for registered red/blacks for myself, or for commerical purposes, and finally I had a herd of traditionally marked red and yellow spotted cows with a bull at home. I am going to continue to AI my spotties to either older collected bulls or imported UK bulls as I feel those are depicting what the Simmental is really all about, but will still maintain a commerical based purebred cow herd to feed the needs of that market as well.

A great place to visit if you are into the fullblood Simmental (traditionally marked) is the British Simmental Cattle Society. Loads of good information, photos and links

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MUCH needed humor

The Shepherd's Lament

Now I lay me down to sleep,
Exhausted by those dog-gone sheep;
My only wish is that I might
Cause them not to lamb at night.
I wouldn't mind the occasional ewe,
But lately it's more that just a few:
Back into bed, then up again,
At two o'clock and four AM....
They grunt and groan with noses high,
And in between, a mournful sigh.
We stand there watching nature work,
Hoping there won't be a quirk:
A leg turned back, or even worse,
A lamb that's coming in reverse.
But once they've lambed we're glad to see
That their efforts didn't end in tragedy.
There's no emotion so sublime
As a ewe and lamb that's doing fine.
I'm often asked why I raised sheep,
With all the work and loss of sleep;
The gratification gained at three AM.,
From the birth of another baby lamb--
How can you explain, or even show?
'Cause only a shepherd will ever know!

Author: D. L. Salisbury, D. V. M.

Why micron and venting.

Its been a LONG time since I"ve used my blog for venting...and I can't take it any longer.

For someone who is learning like me, I think microning is a great tool to learn stuff about your own sheep.

I can 'feel' how soft a fleece FEELS but I can't tell you how fine it will be. I can pick any number and say...16 microns...but who am I bluffing? I have shown evidence of my testing, unlike others who claim to have such fine fleeces but never have the data to back it up. Handle yes is important as are all other things...scales, density, etc. Its just a tool that I use and am happy with using to get my desired results. And its working for me, and I couldn't be happier with it. Are my sheep perfect? Absolutely not! Am I a genius? FAR FROM IT! I'm still learning and want to learn all I can. Its the bashing that I cannot take.

With less than 15 known breeders of single coats I'd say we are by far the underdog here in this NA flock of sheep that are getting too coarse, too big and way too primitive.

Where is the historical evidence of THREE fleece types? The double coats here in the US are not anything like the UK double coats they call beaver or scatter. Check out the Stanley Bowie article in the last NASSA News. He said that there is no mention of kindly/beaver coats for centuries and that the classic Shetlands are of single coated sheep, with few scatter fleeced typed animals that happen to have an outer coat ONLY along the back and maybe a ruff/mane on the neck and they aren't even registered.

AKC (American Kennel Club) has a breed standard for all of the dogs that it recognizes. I had heard on the general Shetland list that NASSA is first and foremost a registry to preserve the breed. I think if NASSA keeps this stance up, it will end up like AKC....just a registry that anyone can register animals as long as it has registered parents. My last girlfriend had an AKC registered Pomeranian. Standard calls for a dog of 2-5 pounds (or so, i can't remember) and hers was over TWENTY pounds. I thought it was a mutt crossed with a sheltie. She was offended and said she paid big bucks for this AKC registered Pomeranian.

Do we want to be like the AKC and just allow poor breedings to continue to happen? Bowie also states in his article that the double coats we have are bred down from crossbred sheep and are different than the UK sheep. Bad breeding should not be rewarded. Its time to stop breeding animals together because they are cute or friendly when the structure and fleece is being ignored.

And I do not think that we should forfeit fleece types or animals because they micron at such and such or have a double coat. That was never my intent, but like Linda W said....we need to move FORWARD with what we have and breed towards the standard that's been in place over 80 years to PROTECT the BREED. Let's move forward together to create the ideal sheep...fine fleeced, within fleece and size limits, according to the standard. There is enough room to merit variability without having commercialized sheep.

If you don't want to follow the breed standard, don't register your sheep. I'd hate to see 150 pound horse hair sheep winning at shows that are being called Shetlands. Oh wait, that's already happening. And people are buying them. That scares me. And they are bigger than Icelandics. Why should we allow Shetlands, that should have NEVER looked like Icelandics for centuries to all of a sudden be OK to breed from? They are not following the standard.

AKC allows any registering of animals that have registered parents...even though they have a standard, they don't have a way to examine the animals prior to registering. Let's not go the way of the dogs....let's put good breeding practices into effect, breed forward, learning together, and be good STEWARDS of the breed, without a personal agenda.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Breeding Groups in!!

I am SO sick of going back and forth...trying to decide who goes to who, who should be bred at all, who goes pure or cross, yada yada yada. So today, while I was out watching the sheep I decided to separate the ewes from the ewe lambs. Seemed the most logical. In the end however all the ewe lambs are STILL with the 17 ewes I'm going to be AI' least until the CIDRs go in on the 23rd.

This year I for the most part ignored pattern and color on the breedings. I went for fleece improvement (duh) and conformation. Pattern and Color are nice, but are not my priority. IF I get something that I an moorit gulmoget ewe or an emsket, then that is just a bonus!!

I was like Theresa, where I could clone several ewes to put with every ram. I've made great strides I think with my flock and my goals and am very happy that I have this dilemma!

I did end up using 2 F1 ram lambs, both Heights Orion's sons. And Jazz and Angus.

Wintertime Jazz - smirslet gray katmoget F1 Jericho - 87.5% UK. AbAa, BBBB, SsSs.

His ewes:
RYL Rachildas - white illget ewe F4 Lightning. She's been bred to Heights Orion and an F1 Orion son with both amazing results. We'll see what she can do bred to a Jericho. I was going to put her to the BFL but needed one more year from her pure (I'm greedy I know). She is homozygous black and carries Ag (AND SPOTTING!)

WhitePine Rush - white ewe - Rachildas daughter out of Aman (F1 Orion) She has really come into herself this year. Gorgeous ewe, perfect tail and conformation. Her ear set is slightly high if I have to be picky about her :). She carries solid and moorit.

ShelteringPines SnowCloud - smirslet gray katmoget. This ewe is Suzanne Nevada's ewe. I"m hoping she wanted the lambs this coming year as I got to keep Salome (yuglet sokket ewe lamb from this year). I was going to put her with the BFL instead if she didn't want the lambs but decided even if she didn't Salome was so nice I'm hoping for a repeat :) Carries solid and modified.

WhitePine Candance - fawn katmoget smirslet - F1 Holly F3 Minder. This is one of the 5 ewe lambs I'm going to breed. She's already 65 pounds. She has a higher CV in her lamb test so breeding her to Jazz in hopes of bringing that down AND spots! Carries solid and modified.

Sommarang Emerald - black flecket ewe - She's a huge ewe...over 100 pounds and is going to be three and never bred. I obviously want loud spots, and hoping that Jazz softens up that fleece. She's one of my coarsest ewes for my purebred breeding and wild and all get out. She managed to sprain my thumb today so just adding to the long list of body parts she's damaged or bruised while I'm working the sheep :) At least the babies will be pretty :) Hopefully carries moorit!

FirthofFifth Angus - emsket gulmoget ram gets the following ewes:

WhitePine Sedalia - smirslet sokket gray katmoget ewe. Carries moorit. She is one of my finest ewes, hoping to pass that on to her lambs out of Angus, who has a higher CV. Anything gulmoget would also be helpful :)

WhitePine Bethany - F1 Orion - fawn ewe lamb. She is my nicest of the three AI girls that I have, and lowest CV so that is why she went with Angus. Angus 'may' carry moorit and if that is the case, I could get moorit gullies out of any of these girls! :)

Sommarang Eva - gray katmoget - She has one of the lowest SD and CV in my flock. She could carry moorit also. Big girl who hasn't lambed yet and will be three. I'm eager for maybe a gulkat or something fun. She carries spots too....and Angus could also :)

WhitePine Naomi - fawn katmoget ewe lamb. (Blues x Nirvana). She carries spots too, and a double patterned lamb wouldn't be so bad, would it? She had lovely fleece.

WhitePine Ephraim - F1 Orion mioget ram lamb gets the following three girls:

Minwawe RedBud - shaela, domestic ewe. I wouldn't call her fleece primitive, but it has no crimp to it. Its very soft and a gorgeous color. Her fleece is already reserved for next year. I'm hoping for an emsket out of this breeding! (one of my only color breedings), but I'm also hoping for fleece improvement (she has a higher CV)

FirthofFifth Booto - F1 Timothy - fawn katmoget ewe. She had a gorgeous ram lamb out of Orion this past year and so I thought I'd breed her to an F1 Orion to see if I can get a ewe lamb out of it. Will be moorit based lambs...which are rare here thanks to Jazz and Barish :)

Wintertime Galina - black gulmoget ewe. Now I'm sure you are did another color/pattern breeding! Well in truth, if I get a moorit gullie or modified gullie that is wonderful, but Galina needs a lot of help in the fleece department. She's a big girl, near 100 pounds already and she is solid sided too (no side dusting). Let's hope, right?

WhitePine Roman - white F1 Orion ram lamb (carries spots and moorit/solid) gets these four girls:

WhitePine Castle Rock - I think she is homozygous katmoget, so any white lambs will carry katmoget (which is nice to know!). Her numbers came back quite nice, so I am putting her an F1 Orion son (last year was F1 Timothy, Barish and her daughter was stunning!)

ShelteringPines Myra - fawn katmoget ewe. She had dynamite ram lamb out of Jazz last year, and am hoping for an equally nice lamb out of her next year, bred to this lovely boy.

WhitePine Eve - fawn ewe lamb F1 Orion - she goes to Roman in hopes of white or moorit lambs. All lambs will carry moorit if they are white...and I'm hoping Roman brings Eve's CV down.

White Pine Neriah - smirslet gray katmoget ewe lamb (Blues x Nirvana) Thinking maybe spots if Roman indeeds carries them like I think he does. Fleece wise they will be nice and hopefully have their mothers rock solid hind end!

That is 16 ewes bred to ground breeding, one is not mine. That is up from what I said I would breed, but I added two back from the BFL breeding and 5 ewe lambs :) I couldn't resist! The lambs are all 60+ pounds already and I've put the groups together a month earlier than normal.

The sad thing is my AI group will be the very LAST to lamb, although only a week later than last year (and they were a month earlier to lamb than my ground breedings). I'm going to separate all the groups the weekend of AI and put EVERYONE back together again in one big group. I'll then put a clean up ram in with the entire group, as I'm hoping they'll all be bred (both ground and AI girls). If I do get any late April lambs, it will be the clean up boy. I think I'll use Levi, my polled F1 Jamie to do those honors. Yes he's 'only' black, but he has a krunet and his fleece and conformation are just amazing. I wanted to use him this year but ran out of girls, so he'll get the whole flock as a clean up ram. I just need to remember he's in there :) :) If something doesn't catch with him, I'm certainly OK with that too

Now I can sit back and dream about lambing season again...and stop worrying about breeding groups! Less stress is good :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sheep photos via phone

These were taken last week when it was still NICE OUT!

Above is WinterSky Layla, F1 Orion horned mioget ewe. She's such a love, and one of my nicest fleeced ewes. NCWGA registered.

Above is Beechtree Kershope (white) and Kiloran (natural colored) showing love.
And again......

And again!

Below is a view of Beechtree Kearsley laying down in front of me and Kershope's body on the left.

Sheep so content below that they lay within feet of me.

and again....

Available sheep

With my work load continuing to pile up, and less time to spend with the sheep, I am offering the following: My entire flock of BlueFaced ...