Tuesday, June 30, 2009

re-evaluations and for sale animals

The joy of not selling your lambs before they are born, or immediately when they are born, or when they are 8 weeks old is awesome! My AI lambs are now 14 weeks old. I now cannot decide which of the 14 ram lambs I should keep!

I thought initially there were a few 'duds', and then at 8 weeks there were a few I thought would go directly to the freezer, but now...I'm seeing some AMAZING things happen to the boys! The fleeces are coming in really crimpy. The bodies seem to have caught up to the long tails on some, the horns on some that looked to be headed towards 'fatal' are now curving out and away very nicely. Heads are looking less ugly. I have got to be honest. I'm hooked on this AI thing :)

I KNOW I do not need to keep both rams from a set of twins. Just deciding which one to keep will be my problem!!

I plan to offer NOW the option to be put on a waiting list for one of the following boys. After micron tests the 1st of September I will be able to figure out who I want to retain over winter and/or use for fall breeding groups. The others would be available for sale, if they are deemed of breeding quality. Those that have bad fleeces and/or bad conformation will be held over and butchered in the spring. Yes F1s can be eaten too, no worries ;)

The following rams may be available:

ONE of the following two rams: WhitePine Simeon (Ag gray) full horned ram or WhitePine Solomon -black scurred ram. One will be available. F1 Timothy F3 Gordon. Dam is Justalit'l Shasta. 62.5% UK. They appear to be more intermediate in fleece or a long single coat. VERY square boys.

ONE of the following two rams: WhitePine Rhodes or WhitePine Roman. Both white rams, one has illget markings on legs and face. Both full horned rams, F1 Orion 56% UK. GORGEOUS crimpy fleece including the tail head. very little or no britch wool. Dam is RYL Rachildas.

ONE of the following two rams: WhitePine Philemon *musket* or WhitePine Phineaus *Moorit*. Philemon is scurred, and Phineaus seems to be full horned. Both are a big leggier right now that I like but they are really filling out nicely with nice even crimp. 75% UK. Heights Orion x Underhill Peep.

ONE of the following two rams: WhitePine Ulam (light badgerface, moorit based) or WhitePine Uphaz (musket yuglet sokket). Ulam is full horned, very square with a slight leaning towards intermediate or long single coat. Uphaz is appearing to have UK style horns or slow growing horns or scurred(?). He is more single coated of the two. Sire is Shirehill Minder. Dam is Underhill Ulla. 69% UK.

WhitePine Rufus. Fawn ram with scurs or slow growing horns. He is out of Heights Orion and FirthofFifth Rooibos. Will be long intermediate fleece. Very square and built ram for those who wish to have a longer staple. Lovely wool on poll and cheeks already too! 62.5% UK.

Please contact me for prices on F1 rams of this high of percentages. Photos are available if they have not been posted lately.

I also have several ewes still available:

Justalit'l Shasta. Ag smirslet flecket horned ewe. Possibly carries polled gene as well. Great mom. Really produces

Minwawe Flopsy. A mature ewe who has given me amazing lambs this year when bred to Jazz! She is domestic with a more singlecoated fleece. She is moorit who is a proven spot producer and is very structurally correct. A great asset to any flock.

Minwawe Dark Chocolate. Gorgeous jet black ewe who carries modifed and spots. Extremely nice conformation and a fleece that has some larger crimp.

Minwawe Sterling. black krunet ewe. She is not the ideal ewe but has given me two years of dynamite ewe lambs to retain! She is a proven producer who has given me my softest lamb of 2008. Her 2009 lamb is also very amazing.

WhitePine Columbine. black ewe with tiny horns. Complete love. she was my bottle baby last year. yearling micron was 20.1 with a comfort factor of 99.6%. She was not bred last year. I have other black ewes I am wanting to take a chance on and so she is available. her CV was not her strong point.

There are also two black ewe lambs that I am still waiting to have 'wow' me in the fleece department. I think they will be more intermediate and I don't really 'want' to have them as I prefer single coated. One is 65.75% UK and the other is 35% UK. One has a silly white smirslet on her head, the other is solid black.

Will give discounts to multiple purchases. All yearlings or older are tested negative for OPP, Johne's and CL. Micron reports available as well as lambing history of ewes.

Please inquire >:)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Newest Additions


I just *HAD* to have more loud and annoying Guinea Hens added to my 4 females running around the farm. With Lyme's disease way up in dogs and cats here in Minnesota, I thought what better natural way to defend them by tick/bug/frog/snake/rodent eater/killer. And don't forget alarm clock, intruder alerter and just all around noisy but beautiful birds!
I ended up getting 9 keets but lost one over night. The remaining colors are:
2 Pearls
1 Pearl Pied
2 Royal Purple
2 Coral Blue
1 Lavender

Keep checking back for new photos as they grow up!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AI lambs

SUCH DECISIONS!!

This ram is to show Juliann ;) He is my F1 Jamie ram out of a Dillon/Holly linebred ewe named RiverOaks Lucy. He carries moorit, spotting and is a smooth polled :) Check out the leathery patches.
WhitePine Levi coming towards me.
Levi's side.
Levi's rear. He already has 6 poll carrier ewes planned for his fall breeding group! >:)
Below is WhitePine Philemon. F1 Orion F3Greyling/F3 Jamie. He's a musket with short scurs.
Another angle...

This is WhitePine Rhodes...or his brother. He is Orion x Rachildas. They are just dynamite rams that I can hardly tell the difference. One will stay...the other will HAVE to leave. In the background is his half sister, FirthofFifth Rahu (she is out of Rachildas and Wintertime Black Forrest)
Underhill Ulla (left) and her sone WhitePine Ulam. He is F1 Minder F3 Jamie/F3 Timothy. Notice the light 'purse' he has. I turly believe he is light badgerface.
Look at the nose here...he is NOT Ag as he could only get katmoget from his dad and not both Ag and Ab.
Hey! One of my THREE AI ewe lambs is below! WhitePine Eve is shown here. She is fawn now, but could be mioget. She is Heights Orion x FirthofFifth Evidence of Autumn.

This big boy (yes he is the size of his mother already) is WhitePine Barnabas aka 'Bug' out of Heights Orion and FirthofFifth Booto. He's one of my current favorites!
here is Bug coming to see me.
Bug again but this time with WhitePine Bethany (she is Orion x Justalit'l Black Lambo). She is my favorite of the three ewes for right now.
Bethany here showing her pretty head with WhitePine Rufus. He is Orion x FirthofFifth Rooibos. He may be a poll carrier (or slow growing horns) and will be more intermediate in fleece.

Bethany again...watching me as she grazes.
Maybe more photos tomorrow ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer dolldrums

Its hot. And muggy. This Scandinavian boy can't take the heat! Ideal temps for working are 60-65 for me with a blue sky, low humidity and slight breeze. Fall is my favorite time of year as these are the days when this ideal setting takes place. You can work all day and not break a sweat!

Unfortunately now, with the high 80's for temps and super high humidity most of the day is pretty worthless...The animals don't want to do much, so its hard to evaluate lambs. The dogs are too hot to play and spend a lot of time napping.

Today we had a huge thunderstorm go through the area and we got another inch of rain. In the past week we've had over 7 inches of rain and having had zero for nearly 6 weeks prior to that, everything is getting green again and growing FAST in this heat. I'm excited for the pastures to grow again.

I'm going through another revision of the 'for sale' list. Several animals that I intended to keep will be placed on it now. I never put something on the for sale list that I do not want to sell. I detach myself from them emotionally so its not so hard to see them go. I always weigh all my options and then place on them on the list. Never have I gone back on a sale. I think its bad business. Never have I changed my mind or wanted to sell other animals in their place. If I'd do that people would stop coming to me for stock.

Sometimes the animals come off the list as I don't think they are of breeding quality any longer and get sold as fiber animals or pets or get put in the freezer. If I wouldn't keep it for myself, I wouldn't sell it. I guess that's just how I think. ;)

Now that I've been in the sheep for three lambing seasons I seem to have a better idea of what I 'need' or 'want' in a sheep. I'm being much more picky in animals that I want to purchase and truly believe most of my nicest stuff will come from within my own flock at this point, with the exception of perhaps a few select individuals. And knowing the parents of each lamb and watching each lamb grow every year gives me a better idea of what to expect from them when they lamb or when they sire lambs, versus an 'unknown' knew line or animal.

Excitement is building for the F1s that I have and several gorgeous Jazz ram lambs that I've already sold to folks. Its a good feeling to know that my breeding efforts are being recognized :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Freedom of Speech

Family issues continue to be troublesome. I've had several relatives email me with disappointment and frustration in regards to me blogging about it.

I truly believe that blogging about my good days and bad is only normal and also therapeutic. No one needs to read my blog if they don't want to! And I'm also very thankful for my blogger friends who have given me advice and support through all of this.

It may not be as bad as I originally believed but it still is emotionally damaging to me and my trust with my family has all but been broken due to the nature of how they have handled this.

I guess for any further correspondence about it for the time being you will have to email me privately to know what new and recent events have happened.

gramsay@arvig.net

Friday, June 12, 2009

Three ewes still available!

I have three ewes still available.

Minwawe Flopsy, moorit, born 2002. Proven spot producer. Solid, square build, great mom, easy keeper. Has micron report and tested negative for OPP, Johne's and CL.

Justalit'l Shasta, smirslet flecket Ag gray. born 2005. horned. Proven spot producer. Solid girl, great mom, F2 Gordon. Micron reports available. Also tested negative for OPP, Johne's and CL. Her lambs have been just dynamite.

Minwawe Dark Chocolate, black, born 2008. Solid build, typey ewe who is jet black. Carries modified and spots. Microns available. Tested negative for OPP, Johne's and CL.

These three ewes would be a great starter flock for someone having a black, moorit and ag ewe, all that carry spots! Please inquire.

I just realized how many ewes I'm wanting/hoping to keep this winter and its about the same as last year....so I thought. I may have to make another hard cut in my proven ewes, as well as my lambs. My loss would be your gain. Please inquire about who would be on that list. Likely to change until August 1st when my decisions will be made.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A few photos from today

Its kinda fun going out to take pictures.....I never find the same sheep to take photos of!! :)

Here is WhitePine Lydia, an F2 Orion, F2 Jericho, F3 Drum ram etc etc. She is 76% UK. My highest % ewe so far. She is just breathtaking!

Part of the 'flock' grazing. The two BFL are Beechtree Kiloran and Potosi Llandewi.The BFL tend to stick together it seems. Here is Crosswind Clover, Beechtree Kiloran and Potosi Llandewi
Suzanne up in AK has told me I get to keep this spotted beauty! WOHOO! here she is "WhitePine Salome" with her mom Sheltering Pines Snow Cloud. She is out of Wintertime Jazz and has very crimpy fleece!
My F1 Orion fawn ewe lamb named WhitePine Eve. She is out of Heights Orion and FirthofFifth Evidence of Autumn. She looks like she'll be more intermediate in fleece length but still very crimpy.
Sommarang Eva, a gorgeous black flecket. She is F2 Minder.
Justalit'l Shasta an Ag smirslet fleckt (F2 Gordon) with her sons (out of Campaign Timothy) laying in the grass. Shasta is for sale :) Her black son is scurred, her Ag gray ram is normal horned (and boy are they big!)

Standard Weights Shetlands and BFLs

Now before everyone gets all excited.....I have found the weights from the SSS Standard. Its a guideline that should be followed. Maybe not all of your sheep (or mine) will fit the range and that is ok! but if your entire flock is under or over then maybe its time to think about where you are headed :)

Standard Shetland Weights:
Ewes: 75-100# (mature)
Rams: 90-110# (mature) (I"ve also seen up to 125# mentioned in some places, not on the SSS)

My ewes: 60-100# (yearling to mature)
Rams: 80-120# (yearling to mature)

I feel comfortable with these numbers. My average for the ewes is 78.6 pounds, so on the lower end of the scale but they are growing babies like crazy! Its fun to see how much the lambs take out of them. One ewe has lost 12 pounds since her lamb was born but her lamb is also one of the fastest growing lambs out there! I weighed them before breeding groups and then again tonight, so about 6.5 months later. My yearlings are in the 60-80 pound range so in another two years they will all most likely be within the limits.

I do have a 2 year old ewe who is quite danty. She is 62 pounds now, with her breeding group weight at 65 pounds. Her daughter is nearly 4 weeks later than my AI lambs and nearly the same size :) So she's a great momma who seems to be holding her condition.

My BFLs average weight was 126.6 pounds. I found different weight averages on the BLU and BFLBA websites.

BLUNA states 150-175# for ewes and BFLBA states 170-220#. Which is correct? I couldn't find a weight on the UK BFL breed association page.

For rams BLUNA states 200-250# and BFLBA states 250-300#. Again which is correct?

I have only one two year old ewe and she is currently at 145 pounds. Her daughter is nearly gaining .75#/day and momma is maintaing weight. The baby is alrady 45# at 53 days old! At breeding group time, she weighed 120 pounds. My yearlings average from 105-145 and none are bred (not even late!!)

I should be fun to try and weight them all NEXT year :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thoughts on breeding decisions

Isn't it always funny when you start something you think "Hmm...after a few years of investing into this new project I'll be able to recoup some of my expenses?" Now I never intended to be rich off of breeding sheep, but I thought it would be a nice way to make some money, enough to cover the cost of vet visits if needed, mineral, fencing supplies etc and general day to day expenses.

I guess I'm still considered in the 'building up' stages, so not expecting to make any revenue.

However I've realized today is this: I should be only breeding for myself.

I shouldn't breed to 'fill a market or niche'. I shouldn't breed to make lots of pets for other people. I should only breed for myself and if others find my sheep appreciable, then perhaps I would sell a few here and there, but only as a 'surprise' sale so to speak where I was not counting on that income to happen.

It makes sense. I do it in my cattle and pigeons without a second thought. I keep only my best animals and slaughter the rest or sell them to feed lots (the cattle, not the pigeons). The birds I keep for myself or they go to dog trainers or the Hmong in the metro areas that eat them. I haven't typically sold a lot of breeding stock in those species and I've had them a lot longer than I've had Shetlands. Just in the past few years I have actually sold some cattle breeding stock as well as some pigeon breeding stock. Its amazing how proud I feel that people also appreciate my lines of cattle and pigeons. Did I think people would with my sheep?

As I've said before, when I started out I got sheep from a couple different places. I found a certain 'look' and fleece type that I preferred and am now breeding towards that goal. The money from the sheep I do sell, that are no longer in my long term goal, is then put towards sheep that hopefully will be. I guess its more of a 'balancing act' , trying to find what I think I need to move my breeding program forward, and what i think I can part with, while still helping others out.

Some people may think they need only 6 or 10 sheep to move their breeding program forward, others (mostly commercial) think they need 100s of ewes. I have found my 'balance' of around 30 ewes and 10 ewe lambs to be ideal, holding back around 10 ewe lambs to 'grow on' while I replace some of the ewes I feel are no longer in my long term plan.

Some may think 40 females is a lot and somedays I feel like it is. Then on the other hand, how does one keep all of the patterns and colors they come in if you don't have a few of each? What if something were to happen to one of the animals say that are fawn katmoget? You could soon find yourself without any katmogets. its just an example. not the end all be all.

I have wittled my numbers almost down to what I can consider my lower end. I have 27 adult ewes to hold on to right now. I'm still waiting for my microns to come back from Texas A&M. When I get them I may have more to sell or some that were borderline before will prove time to move out. I have 16 shetland ewe lambs and i'm hoping to keep 10 or so to evaluate over winter. The biggest steps will be checking for conformational flaws or virtues and then fleece testing in the fall (September sometime). After that I will know for sure who stays or goes. I myself find that the single coated sheep are my calling and anything that may be more intermediate will moer than likely be for sale. I find that most Shetlanders (is that a word for Shetland shepherders) prefer the intermediate and that is just fine and dandy. I think these girls would be welcome additions to your flocks! :) :)

With this many ewes and numerous rams the combinations are nearly endless as to what I may want to improve upon in any given breeding. Giving me half sisters or full sisters is ideal as I can take one to each different ram and see where my best 'click' for a breeding happened and repeat it. Some lines cross well, others are not so beautiful :) Living and learning.

I'm always a big fan of goals. You don't know how far you've come without checking your goals and realigning them every once in awhile!

What you may prioritize may be different than mine and I can respect that. It would be a boring world if we all agreed on everything! And right now I'm set on testing my flock for OPP, CL and Johne's. I'm set on doing micron results for my sheep and I'm set on using AI as a means to improve my lines. Three things that many/most in the Shetland world don't seem to do. And that is ok! I may not always do what I do now, and someday our roads may cross and that will be fun too.

And in the end if no one buys what I feel are nice breeding stock for someone else's flock, that is oK too. I'd rather eat them than give them away at prices that are too low. And that's not being harsh, just being realistic. Bring on the brats!!!! :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

random pasture photos

A calm view of the sheep in front and the cattle in the back. A nice calm 50 degree day today. Yes we are still under our average. WAAAAAAAAAAY under. Come on rain! Its great grass growing temperatures!

FifthofFifth Evidence of Autumn is laying down with her ewe lamb grazing close by. Autumn is trying to hide in the shoulder high grasses!
Below is RiverOaks Lucky with her Willowcroft Jamie son. He is a smooth polled boy at 10 weeks old!
Black Forest Tilly is now getting side dusting a year after she was born. Show her with her ewe lamb Terah with white dandelion seed heads on her neck :)
Wintertime Galina is my solid sided hold out. Is it slowing coming in at the britch? I can't tell. She is out of Wintertime Forrest and Sheltering Pines Holy Grail.
Potosi Llandewwi from Kathy Davidson in PA! Llandewwi is a little dirty but she is filling out nicely.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fencing

Well my dad and I got three more acres fenced in for the sheep today. Its always a good feeling to get the sheep onto fresh pasture. With all the threatening of rain the last few weeks we still haven't gotten any. Nothing measurable anyway. We haven't really had any rain since the good flooding we got back in March when I was sleeping in the barn watching the AI lambs being born. The ground was still frozen then and needless to say, the water ran away and didn't soak in.

We also got the spotted group of cattle into their pasture at home today. The solid black and solid red girls already went out to pasture a few weeks ago and are loving it out there.

I got the electronet up to section off the 3 acres into three smaller pastures. This now brings my acreage for the sheep up to over 9 acres of rotational grazing for the ewes and 2 acres for the rams. I still do feed hay as they need it but I find they don't really want it. They also have fresh water daily but don't seem to drink it much when they have fresh grass to eat. They must be getting it from grasses and forbs that are filled with water?

We also started cutting first crop hay. If it doesn't rain we won't have any 2nd crop which scares me as this will be our third dry summer in a row and we don't really want to be worrying about hay and pasture when its only the first week of June!

On other weather related news.....we have had temperatures at night hovering around 32 degrees and have had several nights with frost advisories and such. Some neighbors have lost their veggies like green peppers and tomatoes to the cold if they didn't cover them. The extended forecast shows temperatures in the 50s and 60s which is about 20 degrees cooler than average temps. Today's average for our town is 76 degrees. I think it hit 50 today. Not really fun.

Come on summer!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Let's make a deal!

I have about 10 ewes that I would like to find homes for. I'm willing to trade you sheep or ducks or something that is comparable in price.

There are a few lambs I have my eyes on ....on other blogs, but ideally would like to sell a few ewes at a time.

Also group pricing is available on three ewes and/or a ram lamb with them.

I've been spending way too much time checking lambs and I know I can't keep them all.....

do inquire

please

:)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sleepy BFLs and a few Shetlands....

I had a couple of moments before chores to take some photos of the girls (and boys) in the pasture. It is surely drying up fast with NO rain in weeks...and coming off of a drought last two summers is not a good thing. I can't remember when its been so dry so early. Not good for rotational grazing! The pastures yet to be grazed are still lush and green, but they are not growing back after I move them off of the old ones....that makes me nervous...like a lot.

Enjoy the photos below.

Potosi Llandewwi is shown here stretched out enjoying the sun with a fellow sun fan in the form of Terah, who is Black Forest Tilly's daughter out of UnderTheSon Arapaho. Llandewwi loves the sun ...can you tell?

Cross Wind Clover is resting in the sun.
And now she is trying to sleep......


This is Lot, out of Jazz and Lavender. He is just stunning. Several people have inquired about him so wanted to show a newer photo.
Family photo of Minwawe Flopsy with her spotted katmoget ewe lamb Faith and the rear of her son Fortunatus. Several people have shown interest in both (but the girl is NFS) so wanted to show Fortunatus' rear. His fleece is way better than his sisters.
A photo of Flopsy's nice rear and tail. She is now going through the rise :)

Above is my F1 Jamie black ram lamb named Levi. Notice the lack of horns? :) The ram lamb gray katmoget WITH horns is my F1 Holly boy Caiphus. His mother Justalit'l Chloe is behind him. To their front is Rachel, an F2 Timothy girl out of Barish. She is staying too.
Underhill Peep and her musket ram lamb out of Heights Orion. He is 75% UK. and his horns are still less than an inch long at nearly three months of age.
Underhill Ulla gave me two stunning ram lambs this year out of Minder. She is going to be AI'ed again this fall.
This is Underhill Peep, a musket F2 Greyling, F2 Jamie. She's a love. Behind her is River Oaks Lucy who is linebred on Dillon. Both girls have proven their poll carrier abilities when bred to horned rams last fall via AI. I'm thinking of using both again in AI this fall.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Possibly good news

I talked to my Mother briefly tonight before supper and after I mowed my lawn (and I think before chores?? My days and hours are all running together) and she assured me that my sister would NOT be purchasing a major portion of the farm and that she thought it was a 'non issue'. My Mother stated to my sister that she has had no prior interest in farming and so why would she want any of the land?

Even if my sister would purchase 10 or 20 acres there would still be rights by my dad to farm that land until he quit farming or i bought the farm at which time I could possibly rent or use the land they weren't using for their homestead. This makes my life a lot easier to handle right now.

Long term and short term goals can still be kept in place and everyone can be happy :)

Thank you again to all the private and public prayers and thoughts for me during this very emotional and uncertain time. I appreciate all you guys!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sale sheep - updated 4/18/17

With a potential move (again) I am decreasing my flock numbers. These are the sheep I have available as of this time. There may be a few mor...