Thursday, December 22, 2011

Year in Review 2011

It seems hard to believe we are nearly at the end of 2011. I sometimes still catch myself thinking its 2010.

Many things have happened this year, mostly good, some not so good. My grandpa always says "there are better days ahead".

The farm as a whole is increasingly getting back to its diverse livestock species that it once had before. We added about 25 more laying hens to add to the bug and frog and mouse patrol. The free ranging girls sometimes surprise me with nests in the most bizarre places (i.e. in a hole in the lawn that used to be a rabbit nest, under the porch steps, atop the round hay bale stacks, in dog houses out behind the house, etc etc). The flavor and color of the eggs is incredible! I've found a small market for my all natural, free range, free of antibiotics or hormone eggs. I truly do appreciate their egg production and their ability to eat most any insect or small creature they can find. They also keep me entertained with their antics and social rankings.

I added three gilts and a boar, all from farms that believe in pasture raised, natural feed, just like our farm used to do. Our first litters should be sometime in the spring. I'm eager for the homegrown pork again and I know my family and friends are too! If you'd be interested in some pork please do contact me. with all of the trips I go on it would be easy enough to bring along!

The sheep are ever amazing me with their ability to forage on grasses and forbs the cattle would overlook. Their condition going in to the breeding season was pretty amazing, and the quality of wool looks as promising as ever. The sheep this year paid for many things and I was able to sell more purebred registered sheep than ever before! The word is slowly getting out that the Shetland can do it all: raise twins with ease, grow a soft, fine fleece, be used for crossbreeding with no ill effects, continue to flourish on a grass fed/rotationally grazed system with little input from the shepherd. if I can continue to progress with the sales of these sheep and utilize local feedstuffs as well as neighbors pastures i will be able to NOT work off the farm at in 3 years. If I want to, will be another question. I love the solitude but I AM a social person. Those that have met me, will understand!

In cattle news, our Simmental cows were bred again to a neighbors Red Angus bull. The premium on our calves at the local auction barn were over 2.20/cwt on average(!!), more than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime at a local auction. Privately, grass fed beef is worth its weight in gold. I hope to get in to that niche market in the upcoming season. The Simmental x Angus or Simmental x Red Angus crosses are a hot commodity and I look forward to utilizing my UK genetics that I imported in 2009 again in 2012. It is difficult to breed seed stock that is of UK bloodlines when no one else here in the US seems to be on that trend (which is a shame). Its also hard knowing that the crosses bring so much money in our local market and we don't have to feed or overwinter any calves. Makes chores in the winter much easier.

I have had a stellar year with the dogs in the show ring and with the one litter I had in April. I was really pleased with the pups from Daisy's litter and kept back a boy and a girl from it to grow up and see how they do. The boy already has both majors in his two attempts for a major :) I also finished two Champion titles from the Bred by classes and looks as though I will have both of them with their Grand Champions in the next show or two. I'm so fortunate to have had the agreement of many judges with the virtues of my dogs.

I've looked back at my goals for 2011, which can be found HERE. I have done most of this with few exceptions. I'll be thinking more over the next week about what I wish to try and attain for 2012 and beyond. When I decide I'll be sure to let you all know :)

I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a huge network of friends, mentors, fellow farmers, breeders and buyers. This is why I love farming and will always do it. So thank you all for making my 2011 such a great year and I can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us all! Thank you to those who believe in what I do and have purchased meats, wool, pelts and breeding stock from me. I truly appreciate your business and truly appreciate YOU.

Merry Christmas my friends and have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Micron Results for 2011

My fleece samples sat in my pickup in the box, ready to be shipped for testing most of the summer. Since the micron testing was 200.00 or so for all the samples (100+ sent in) I never seemed to have the extra cash to do it. So i finally just made it a priority. None of the results were surprising except for one. The micron testing has helped me learn a ton about each sheep's fleece and in learning the feel/texture and reasons things test at the levels that they do.

I pastured my sheep on 50% alfalfa, and the rest of the mixture was red clover, white clover, timothy, blue grass, fescue, brome and orchard grasses. I have to graze the alfalfa when it is 2/3 bloom, so it is a more stemmy than I like but the sheep have adapted well to this in the heat of the summer. spring/fall pastures are mostly fescue/blue grass and red/white clovers. Everyone is in good condition.

I'm going to list the rams first. The rams were pastured in their own system of 4 paddocks this year and I am extremely pleased with the results. Aside from the 2 polled rams below, all rams have fleeces at least 4" long already (about 9 months of fleece growth). The two polled rams have a fleece around 3". It is extremely dense and crimpy and when stretched is around 4.5". I love the variety my fleeces give me :)

For those not in the know my goals:
AFD: Average Fiber Diameter My flock goal is somewhere between 20 and 25.
SD: Standard Deviation. I want this as close to 5 or below.
CV: Coefficient of Variation. My flock goal is around 20 give or take.
CEM: Coarse Edge Mean. My goal is under 10. The lower the better. this gives it the silky handle and makes the fiber feel finer than it is sometimes. (i.e. 30 afd ewe with a CEM of 7 will feel like a low 20s AFD)
CF: Comfort Factor. This should be as close to 100% for any sheep. Adults over 80% is a goal for me (and i'm close!)
SF: Spin Fineness. What the fiber feels like as its being spun up through the hand. Your SF should always be lower than your AFD for Shetlands.

I have a page on my website ( that explains this in more detail.

Wintertime Jazz AI (Todhill Jericho x Whistlesop 0424 Izzy) gray katmoget - fourth fleece
AFD: 24.9, SD: 5.1, CV 20.3, CEM 9.4, CF 86%, SF 24.1. Amazing numbers for a four year old.

FirthofFifth Nekomis (Wintertime Blues x Bramble Nadine) gray katmoget - third fleece
AFD: 27.5, SD 5.2, CV 19.1, CEM 8.9, CF 75.1, SF 26.3. he had the silkiest fleece with lots of luster and soft handle. This fleece was third overall in the Shetland Fleece Show at WSWF under UK judges Kate Sharp and Alan Hill.

WhitePine Levi (Willowcroft Jamie x RiverOaks Lucy) black polled ram 2nd fleece:
AFD: 23.6, SD 5, CV 21.4, CEM 9.7, CF 89.9, SF 23

WhitePine Ludacris (Greenholme Holly x RiverOaks Lucy) moorit bielset polled ram first fleece:
AFD: 23.8, SD 4.9, CV 20.6, CEM 9, CF 90.6%, SF 23.1

WhitePine Flo Rida (Greenholme Holly x ShelteringPines Fleur de Lis) gray katmoget horned, first fleece: AFD 23.8, SD 4.9, CV 20.6, CEM 9, CF 90.6%, SF 23.1 Flo Rida will be used in 2012

WhitePine Christian (UnderTheSon Arapaho x WhitePine Centennial) black horned 2nd fleece:
AFD: 22.5, SD 5.4, CV 24, CEM 10.4, CF 92.1, SF 22.5 He is available for sale

FirthofFifth Kiso (WhitePine Ephraim AI x FirthofFifth Kamachariy, a Forrest daughter) first fleece
AFD: 25.5, SD: 4.6, CV 18.1, CEM 7.9, CF 86.9, CF 24.2. He is a scurred fawn katmoget and is available for sale.

WhitePine Caiphas (who now lives in Maryland) (Greenholme Holly x Justalit'l Chloe) gray katmoget 2nd fleece AFD:23.8, SD 6, CV 25.3, CEM 12.4, CF 83.7, SF 24.1

WhitePine Roman (who now lives in Maryland) (Heights Orion x RYL Rachildas) white ram 2nd fleece
AFD: 23.4, SD 4.4, CV 19, CEM 7.9, CF 94.4, SF 22.4. He is am amazingly fleeced ram Amazing numbers.
WhitePine City High (Heatheram Lightning x FirthofFifth Koosi AI) gray katmoget (could be modified) first fleece AFD: 22.5, SD 4.5, 19.9, CEM 7.9, CF 96.1, SF 21.7 City High will be used heavily in 2012.

WhitePine Barnabas (Heights Orion x FirthofFifth Booto) - fawn katmoget horned 2nd fleece:
AFD 18.4, SD 3.9, CV 21.2, CEM 8, SF 100%, SF 18

I've not had a 2 year old every micron at 18 afd before!! I"m totally shocked. He has everything in his fleece that I am after and I am not disappointed with any of these numbers from any rams. I sold Roman and Caiphas who I really liked but used both of them two years. Christian is available now that I've used him for breeding and Kiso is available as I have much of his genetics in the ram and ewe flocks.

I have several ram lambs available still from these above rams as well. Please inquire! :)

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 ...