Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflecting back on 2009 and friendships

Gosh where did 2009 go?!!

It seems like just yesterday I was wishing for my first AI lambs to hit the ground. Hard to believe they are almost a year old already!

2009 was an amazing year. I traveled to several sheep shows to visit with friends, making lasting, stronger friendships, and I made new friends at the shows. Its always fun to brainstorm with others and listen to their flock goals and where they've been and how they came to finding sheep or Shetland/BFL sheep in general. Thanks to the internet, blogging, and breed associations, I've been able to meet many whom I consider some of my best friends! Whether we agree or disagree on what we do with our sheep, or what our priorities are with them, we never let that get in the way of our friendships. And I can say with the exception of one person, everyone I've met through blogging I consider a friend. Friends look out for each other, stick up for each other when they are getting slandered, call them when they are down, and are there to lend an ear or shoulder. So thank you to all of you who were my friends this year. The sheep are really secondary in that matter. Sheep will come and go but friends will always be around, in some form or another.

I got my amazing NASSA news in the mail much quicker this time and in prestine condition! I must thank those who take the time to write down their experiences on paper (or computer I guess these days), share their life experiences, photos, notes, knowledge. It does not go unnoticed! I am always wanting to learn as much as I can about our ancient Shetlands and am thankful for those both in NA and the UK that have shared their time with me and answered questions that I've posed.

Its also very easy to take things the wrong with the advancement of online chatter. Unfortunately that seems to get taken more the wrong way than the way its supposed to be taken. I cannot apologize for how others read and react to my blog posts, but its never meant as passive aggressive or as a dig. Shame on you for thinking that! For those of you who know me, you know that I am very serious about my sheep, very willing to learn and listen to others and hope that by expressing my thoughts on my blog, that others will take that step to discuss the same issues on their blogs, all in friendly discussion, making it able to be used as education for all, and in turn, creating a better understanding everyone.

Many of you I would not have met, had it not been for the blog. I've sold fleeces because of it, traveled to different parts of the country because of it, and made many friends I would have never met otherwise.

I think that Corinne and Nancy are the most funny people I've ever met (aside from Stephen) and they always make me laugh when we are together. They truly are the friends you would think of when you are sitting in a jail cell and laughing together about how fun it was to do whatever we just did to get in trouble. ok maybe not THAT extreme but you get the idea ;) Never would have met them, had it not been for blogs and sheep!

Theresa and Juliann are amazing ladies with a wealth of knowledge about the breed, production aspects, genetic aspects, they are both wonderful and amazing people.

Stephen is such a gracious host for Michigan Fiber Fest each year and has two houses full of sheep people staying with him. He takes us on field trips around the area for landscape nurseries, shops, restaurants, bars, you name it, he has amazing ones close to him.

Many thanks to the ladies in Minnesota! Sabrina, Becky, Kim and Gail for having opportunities to get together and talk sheep or just hang out! You are all great gals who I am honored to know and call you friends. Any time I need a sheep 'fix' and not be looked at strangly, you are there. So thank you!

Thank you to Cynthia for being there from the very beginning! You are a true friend and mentor, going way above and beyond any sales exchange and letting me ask questions upon questions and constantly ask 'why'. Many thanks my friend. You are very loved :) And I thank you very much for being so supportive along the way!

I should probably stop mentioning names for fear of forgetting others, but if your blog is on my links, let it be known that you all make positive impressions on me and I'm eager to continue to grow and learn together with all of you, while strengthing friendships.

Truly when we are old (well some will be older faster than ME :P) and the sheep have to leave due to our inabilities to care for them properly I do hope that we will remain friends and still get together for laughs.

Friends. It feels good! Happy 2010 and may it be very blessed for you all! I hope that 2010 will allow our paths to cross many times and our joy in our sheep can be expressed between us!


Juliann said...

Love you, brother! It's gonna be a great 2010!

kristi said...

I am probably one of those readers who reads too much into things....downside of being a teacher perhaps, always looking deeper into the meaning of words. Regardless I read your blog because it is informative, esp. the micron info. and I respect your serious for your sheep and what you strive to obtain with them. And while I know you cull and understand why you do, I know and have learned that I couldn't/can't. But neither will I sell inferior stock, lesson learned. What I find frustrating is that 5-6 years ago tails were not a huge issue but now they are. But I was sold stock with tails that breeders would now deem as unacceptable by standards...and prices back then were much higher. One of my flashest ewes I bought has the ugliest tails among all my ewes and even I know that:) but breeding her to the right ram, Jed., has improved the tail end of it. So anyways, as I rattle on and on, I thank you for your blog and I do listen, sometimes LOL.....perhaps I can give you some competition at Cardi Nationals?:)

Juliann said...

Kristi, I don't think tails are a huge issue, it's still only worth 9 points. I think people are culling harder because there is so much out there now available, even compared to 5-6 years ago.
I admit tails are lower on my priority list. They do not interfere with the structure of health of the sheep. To this day I won't cull an otherwise perfect ewe because of an imperfect tail. Some people will, some won't. I even have a ram for sale who has a bit more hair on his tip than he should have, but again I like the rest of him enough to not be ashamed to have my farm name on his registration papers.
I am a sheep farmer, not a tail farmer.
But...the tail is a breed characteristic, so we can't ignore it completely and pretend it isn't there. Look at Windswept farms, who does minimal culling for tails and still is in the ribbons. It's ONLY worth 9 points.
The tail is stressed in the Standard and breed description because of all the crossbreeding that went on, the remnants of which still haunts us to this day. The Standard was used to weed out crossbreds and throwbacks from registration.
For me, culling for tails took a backseat to conformation and fleece quality. I didn't completely write off tails, I kept an eye on them, but they were lower priority. Once conformation and fleece quality improved, now I'm culling harder for tails. If I had to choose between a Shetland with a woolier tail but a nice fleece, and a coarse Shetland with a typy tail, give me the soft one.
I have also been "breeding up", pairing a ewe with a poor tail to a ram with a good tail, hoping for a better baby. It's what breeders do. :)

corinne said...

OMG! You, Nancy and I in a jail THAT is a Jerry Springer moment waiting to happen!
Big hugs little bro! Happy, healthy and prosperous new year to you :).

Sabrina Wille Erickson said...

Happy New Year to you, Garrett!

Nancy K. said...

Now, what on Earth would I be doing in a jail cell??? Corinne and you, I can see ~ but ME???

I guess, if I ever DO end up in a jail cell, I couldn't ask for better company!

Hey ~ wait a second! We can't leave out BRIONY!!! Surely, there's room in the cell for the four of us...


Wishing you the BEST for 2010!

Potosi Sheep Farm said...

I agree Garrett...sheep have given me friendships with some of the greatest people. It is so much fun knowing people of all ages all over the country with the commonality of sheep.We all have different goals and breeding plans for our flocks but that's what it's all about. The blogs educate and motivate me. I am addicted. As for 2010, I am looking forward to your visit in April so I can learn more about Shetlands. BSG will be great too!

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

Well, I didn't get named either, but ya got one of my sheep there anyways :-) Email me when you can, and post more when you get a chance. Hey, I entered 7 dogs in the show at the end of the month, first time in many years. Nothing like going for broke and a 5 point major, is there?!

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