Friday, May 29, 2009

Oatmeal Rams

The Brown Boys. More correctly: Moorit. And even more specifically: Musket.
I have been using moorit rams since I began breeding registered Shetlands. All of my ewes are black based but most of them carry moorit. This rather basic color recessive continues to elude me, however.
Two years ago, a ewe gave me a moorit ram lamb. He contracted Lyme's disease and experienced several other setbacks. He died at 8 months. Last year Rai Min gave me another moorit ram lamb. Except if Bombarde was his sire he should have been katmoget or musket. But he wasn't. I now suspect Rai Min of carrying extension genetics. That lamb left to be a buddy to a ram lamb I sold. This year, Rai Min gave me little musket Roux-a ram lamb.
Excepting those three male individuals-every other sheep born on this farm has been black based. What are the odds? If I ever get a moorit ewe lamb, I might just keep her as a novelty; regardless of her merit or lack thereof!
Because of these circumstances, I tend to associate the color moorit with masculinity and the color black with femininity. I can't even imagine what a moorit ewe would look like out upon the lawn. I've never seen such a thing at this farm.
Thank goodness my musket boys keep me aware of the fact that there are brown Shetlands out there. Someday I shall have some-maybe.
Roux received several comments when I featured him in a post a few days back about his half-poll potential. I was thoroughly surprised to read opinion that his Ag pattern was not the major detractor that I thought it was. Not that Ag is on every one's wish list. But I seem to only hear how unfortunate the Ag fading is. I happen to like the heathery color Ag gives yarn. Since I was so pleasantly surprised to hear such nice comments, I decided to feature Roux's cute little face. I like his pale nose and eyeliner.
I laughed when I first saw this photo of Parker. He looks like he is happy to see me and calling out a big "Hello!" This glimpse of his easy-going personality is quite accurate.
Now comes one of the Big Guys: Bombarde. I have never seen Unicorn's feet leave the earth. Bombarde is an agile fellow, though. Given access to a tree that has never before felt the predation of sheep, there was quite a bit of foliage available to the ram willing to stand on his hind legs. In this position, Bombarde is quite a bit taller than I am. I'm glad he doesn't walk around like this all the time. I'm sure he's a much more manageable creature with all four feet on the ground.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Parker-Half Poll!

There is no doubt that White Pine Parker is a half-poll ram.
His scurs are short and rather ugly-but they have already broken off twice. I noticed the one was a bit bloody and loose the other day. It might be missing one of these days. The older Parker gets, the less inclined he is to head butt his buddy, Arvada. Or anything else for that matter. I wish the scurs would just not grow back. But breaking off over and over is more convenient than large scurs like Bombarde's-so I am thankful.
Comparing my two White Pine rams to each other, I would say Parker is stronger in the shoulder and weaker in the hindquarters than Arvada.
Parker's head and bone is more masculine, but his fleece is a little less uniform from front to back. I am eager to see what the micron test on him says.


White Pine Arvada
Becky at River Oaks is asking others what potential her yearling Bo might have as a half-poll ram. If you are someone with experience in polled sheep, stop by there and help her out.
I'm posting about Arvada for horn comparison. Arvada is thought to be a half-poll; his dam being a likely poll carrier. Arvada had very small horns when I brought him home as a lamb last July. They appeared like small scurs to me. Since I was interested in his soft fleece and kat pattern, I was willing to take a chance on the polled issue. His horns grew rapidly this past fall/winter and now they seem to be reaching a growth plateau again.
I am still undecided about his polled/horned state. Test breeding will probably be the only way to really know. I think he might be a poll carrier because of my experience with Bombarde having such large horns and still being a poll carrier. Bombarde has very asymmetrical horns though, and Arvada's are very symmetrical. However, this yearling's horn profile is quite round compared to my other rams. Clues? Or not?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

B & Q & Explanation

Yesterday I featured the katmoget ram lamb Jchen. I said he is owned by my son. Here is how that all works:
I actually own and register all the sheep here. But the first year I had registered ewe lambs I "gave" one to each of my three sons. The agreement was they would help me with chores when I asked and I would let them name the lambs from their ewes and keep the money from any sale lambs those ewes produced-as long as any money that they make goes into their individual savings account.
Yesterday, after featuring Isaac's lamb Jchen, my son Asa told me his lambs had not had enough press lately. So here are a couple of photos of his white lambs out of Delyth X Unicorn:
Qdy on the left, her twin Bence in the middle, and half-brother Dan on the right.
Bence relaxing in the grass. He has such brilliant white fleece. Asa wants him to replace Unicorn; but again with the horns interfering with my polled flock plans. Therefore, Bence may be for sale if he grows into the hopes we have for him.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Jchen is the youngest lamb in the flock. Oh, how I wanted him to be a ewe lamb. It only took a minute to realize he was a ram lamb. So then I wished that he would prove to be a half-poll. Sian is one of my very best ewes and I'm eager to keep a half-poll ram lamb from her and Bombarde. No luck...Jchen appears to have horns just as solid as the Unicorn offspring. So now I get to hope his horns come in nice and wide. Third time's a charm?
If I wasn't going toward polled stock-Jchen would be replacing his sire here. But alas...those horns.
Jchen carries moorit and spotting. He is from two of my best sheep. Sian is three years old and only just starting to get a little iset by her tail. Otherwise she is solid, lustrous black and her fleece is soft. How soft? I'm sending in fleece samples tomorrow for micron testing-so I can post those once they come back.
Jchen is friendly, as in he readily approaches me, but I never scratch or pet my ram lambs so he is not being rewarded for his boldness. He also has lovely, uniform, Bombarde-type crimp. His halo of brownish newborn hair on his rump is becoming less prominent as his wool comes in.

Jchen is only just 3 weeks old-too young for me to know he will be a great ram. But if he passes inspection here in a few months, my son (Jchen's owner) will likely offer him for sale.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yearling Ewes

This is my hopeful group-the yearling ewes. They will be put with rams for the first time this fall; and if all goes well, each should give me at least one lamb next spring.
Boston Lake Lyneth is my best yearling. She has the whole package plus gorgeous fleece. I even think she carries polled as she has deep depressions in her skull. She is licking mineral in the first picture.
In the second photo she is showing off her tiny tail and wide back end. That tail shadow is misleading-biggify to see how tiny her tail really is.
Boston Lake Nhu is Lyneth's twin. She is equally as wonderful, but she has a narrow doe-like appearance as compared to Lyneth's stout look. Nhu has beautiful blue fleece and wide hindquarters/tiny tail. She is very elegant.
Boston Lake Duvie surprised me this week. I finally got around to assessing a few more fleeces. Hers was softer than I expected-and not really black. I compared it to two other black fleeces and it was not like them. What color is it? I really don't know. My first thought was dark brown because it just didn't strike me as shaela. I'll have to take some photos and see what others think. I knew there was a good chance she could be modified, but I had stopped thinking about it a long time ago. Duvie is stout and friendly, just like her dam. I like that about her.
White Pine Silverthorne pleased me quite a bit when I saw her after her first shearing. She is very petite compared to the rest of my flock, and that always makes me think of her as young. But I like her square shape. When her head is up she has a perfect rectangle to her body profile. Her fleece is more curly than crimpy, but it is uniform excepting the britch. I'm going to send in her fleece for micron testing and see what that says. Truthfully, I haven't pulled her fleece out of the bag Susan put it in on shearing day so I can't really describe it's handle yet.
Silvy has such a pretty face.

Half-Poll Roux?

Rigg and Roux are exactly 4 weeks old today. They are Rai Min's twin ram lambs, but they couldn't be more different. Rigg has long, fluffy, straight grey wool. And Roux has a short, musket ultra-crimp coat.
Roux may also be the only ram lamb this year that received a polled gene from his sire.
I don't believe Rai Min has any polled potential. I'm simply breeding her to Bombarde in hopes of a promising ewe lamb. So far she has given me three ram lambs. Typical of her contrary attitude.
All the ram lambs have wide, round horn bases-with solid thick horn coming in. Roux's horn base, by comparison, is hardly anything. The little horns coming in are sort of knife blade shaped and very wiggly. I've even seen him head butt a couple of the other ram lambs a time or two and it literally makes his knees buckle and he walks around shaking his head for a while.
In spite of the fact that I don't have room to keep him, I like this little guy. He has great hind quarters like his sire. I was hoping for a katmoget half-poll to keep from Bombarde. The kat ram lamb that Sian gave me has the biggest horns of all the Bombarde lambs, though.
Roux shows off his tail next to Duvie-a yearling. The halo of dark hair on his back half is receding as his wool comes in more and more. His little backside has tiny crimp now just like his neck. It is soft, too. Come on Rai Min-give me a ewe lamb like this.

Friday, May 22, 2009

For Sale-Windswept Unicorn

This is the year I must part with Unicorn. He has given me two gorgeous keeper ewe lambs that I am eager to use next year-Darla & Qdy. He has produced my heaviest ram lamb of the season-Dan. And his son Bence has all of his best qualities-especially his blue/white color-with even more uniform fleece and strength and width to his hindquarters.
I am trying to move closer to breeding polled Shetlands. While I can work with his female offspring, I can no longer use Unicorn. His strengths include adding size, shoulder, presence, length, and horn genetics. His fleece is huge and has a wonderful silky handle. He has been a great ram for me. And though I will miss him-my husband will miss him more. Like the expression says-this guy is truly a "man's man."
Please call 218.556.0862 or 218.243.2126. Leave a message at either number. Or email me at for more information.
Windswept Unicorn
F2 Drum Jings
Masculinity to the extreme.
Magnificent horns.
Wide chest.
Silky, dense, heavy fleece.
Long staple-single coated.
Brilliant white lustre described by buyer as "fiber-optic".
Homozygous for white with major face speckling.
Tiny tail.
Proven-produced 3 rams and 3 ewes-all significantly chunky lambs.
Respects humans.
Does NOT head-butt fencing/structures just for fun.
Respects electronet fencing.
Has not been injured in any way through fighting, shearing, or management.
Quickly covers his ewes.
'09 lambs shown are Qdy & Dan. Unicorn has a very tiny tail. It does grow some extra hair at the tip and the shearer did not take it off. There is two inches of hair past the tip of his tail in the last photo. This has never created a soiling problem for him and his lambs have improved tail covering out of good ewes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Portraits II

Little Miss Darla Gay

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Portraits I

Just a simple post displaying the individual beauty of each lamb...

Her conformation is just stunning. I have big plans for her.

He has the best traits of both his parents. Beautiful fleece and excellent build.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

For Mothers-Late

These photos were taken on Mother's Day. I just didn't notice them until today.
I love the direct, no-nonsense look of Sian's countenance in contrast to the blissful dreaming smile on her daughter's face.
Notice the dumpy, exasperated look of Rai Min compared to the contented satisfaction of her sleeping, snuggled ram lambs.
Mothers-you've been there! At least I have. The following is an excerpt I found in my devotional on Sunday morning. It offers some perspective for those difficult days of being a parent.
Beatitudes for Parents-by Marion E. Kinneman

Blessed are those who make peace with spilled milk and mud, for of such is the kingdom of childhood. Blessed is the parent who engages not in the comparison of his child with others, for precious unto each is the rhythm of his own growth. Blessed are those who have learned to laugh, for it's the music of a child's world. Blessed and mature are those who without anger can say "No," for comforting to a child is the security of firm decisions. Blessed is the gift of consistency, for it brings heart's-ease in childhood. Blessed are they who accept the awkwardness of growth, for they are aware of the choice between marred furnishings and damaged personalities. Blessed are the teachable, for knowledge brings understanding and understanding brings love. Blessed are the men and women, who in the midst of the unpromising mundane, give love, for they bestow the greatest of all gifts to each other, to their children, and -in an ever-widening circle- to their fellowmen."

Monday, May 11, 2009


Anyone else love the Beastie Boys? I don't even know if that is the correct spelling? But I love the audacity of their music. Who cares about the words...I just love how they sound.
That line from their song was the first thing I thought of when I saw this picture of Dan. He's less than a month old and already checking things out.
I can't figure out what is funniest: his spotted nose all curled up, or his baby teeth.
You got a ways to go, Big Guy!


Clancy calls the four white Unicorn lambs bunnies. I don't know whether it is their little dark noses (exception-Darla Gay) or their stout little forms all puffed up with white fluff-but they really do resemble rabbits. Especially when they are tearing across the yard as a mob. Like wild March hares!
Unicorn is very wide in the chest and hips, and he throws lambs with that conformation. This adds to the square and low bunny look, too. They are just plain cute.
Here are Qdy, Darla, and Bence snuggling down for the evening. They were out on grass yesterday for 8 hours before I put them in the barn pen.
Finally the lambs are learning the drill and following their dams in for the grain treat at night. When they are only a few days old they stay very close to mom and they come in with her just fine. After about a week and a half they develop their first streak of independence and decide to follow their peers.
At evening round up the ewes would follow me into the pen, and the lambs would run the other direction-because they just learned THEY CAN! For a week or so I would shut the gate and wait until they realized their moms were on the other side and NOT coming back to them. Pretty soon they would congregate near the gate and I would open it. The wayward lambs would run into the pen, desperate and frantic.
Now, they have adopted some of the flock behaviors and routines for themselves and they are more cooperative. Thank you, Lambies.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not Again

I think I mentioned in the last post that I took Greta Grub into the vet on Monday to have quills removed. (She's the furry face in the side bar.) That day didn't turn out so well. I was out of sorts when I picked up Greta-only to learn she had a staff infection on her skin that required antibiotics. Something to do with folic-itis or something. My conversation with the vet didn't go so well. I chalked it up to being really tired-and he agreed that I did indeed look really run down. Like I needed serious rest. "You're going to go home and take a nice long nap, right?" he soothed. You know you are a mess when a stranger is concerned about your health. Yes, I was tired, but I would like to think I was just having a really bad day and it showed.
Well, since that humiliating experience, I've made a few more trips to the vet...

It's a very good thing the sheep have been sheared-it probably saved Arvada's life. Monday I noticed that he was looking pot bellied. I made a mental note to de-worm him soon. Tuesday morning I found Arvada as ballooned as I've ever seen an animal before. Full term pregnant ewes can't even compare. So I mixed up the bloat remedy from my sheep book and did my duty administering it and holding a dowel in his mouth until he started burping. Eventually his side bulges reduced and I left him to burp the rest on his own. I repeated this remedy again Tuesday evening as it seemed he was puffing up again. Throughout all of this he was snorty and ornery and still very interested in eating.
Wednesday morning I looked forward to a nicely recovered ram lamb. What I found was Arvada even more bloated than before and huffing for breath. I treated him again and sensed that I was only slightly diminishing the problem-not solving it. So I called up the vet in Gonvick and they could see him in the early afternoon if I brought him up there. Thank goodness Shetlands are small and they fit in dog crates!
Somewhere in all this worry I consulted my friend Gail and also Clancy. The real puzzle is that Arvada had been on pure alfalfa for 2 months, and I switched him to a regular grass bale the day I noticed his pot belly. He has not had a single blade of fresh grass yet, nor has he had any grain. And my other three rams on exactly the same diet were just fine. I was pretty anxious this could be something more sinister than bloat since there didn't seem to be any ordinary causes for it.
Arvada traveled really well and the vet was able to see us right away. She was super great with him-a true gentle soul. She decided to put a tube down into his rumen to see what type of bloat he had. It was frothy bloat: which meant that his rumen was full of noxious "soap suds" rather than just pent up air. If it had been air the tube would have released it and everything should have been a lot better for him. Instead, she administered a heavy dose of mineral oil into the tube and that was that.
I had been worried about water belly as a possible cause of his state, but he relieved us of all doubt by peeing on my shoe while we were working on him. When the tube got pulled out of his mouth it sprayed me head to toe with mineral oil. I'd like to think it was the oil still in the line, but I'm pretty sure it was from the submerged end. And I began to think "I put on mascara for this?!!!!" Remember the comment about looking really tired. Oh well.
The minute I got back home I had to unload Arvada, coax all the sheep off the grass back into their pen, and feed everybody. The boys had a performance at school Clancy and I were supposed to go to. We were just a bit late.
Next day, Thursday, Arvada looked a lot better, but still puffed up after his morning meal. Since the boys had a choir concert that night and we were going to be gone all afternoon and evening, I decided to give him some Rumen-Eze and probiotics. I figured he'd be safe enough till we got back. He was. But Greta greeted us at the door with another face full of porcupine quills.
I told the vet this morning that Greta was looking for a summer job to pay off her vet bills. Truthfully, I think she's becoming an anesthesia junkie.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Out and About

This morning dawned bright and warm-a perfect day to let the sheep roam the farm. They have even started demanding this privilege at noon every day now. Today though, I had to run Greta Grub into the vet to have porcupine quills removed. So the ewes didn't get let out till 1pm when I got back from town. They were pretty dissatisfied with the situation.
I took a few pictures... but it is getting harder and harder to catch pictures of the lambs because they are so busy-and all in a mob. I'll try to get some individual portraits soon. I love those best.
Some of the flock on the hillside.
Little lambs 'round a big tree. I believe this is the largest white pine on our property. From left to right: Vianne, Dan, Niav, Qdy, Darla, Bence. Remember, click on the photo if you would like to "biggify" it.
The oldest lambs up front, with Rai Min's twin rams, Rigg and Roux in the background. I love how chunky the older lambs are. They are butterballs!
And finally, my most exciting ram lamb: 3-day-old Jchen.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sian's Twins

No time to get great photos this morning. I just took a couple from over the door and outside the jug.
Since Sian belongs to my oldest son, and the lambs are his, he named these two. He made these up. He's a "namer" after my own heart.
The little grey ewe lamb is Leil. For non-Shetland people: this lamb's black body will fade to grey as she gets older. Her head and legs will stay essentially black, though. Leil has a gorgeous newborn coat.
This katmoget ram lamb is Jchen. I can't figure out if those white patches on his side are spotting or just katmoget variation. My other kat Bombarde baby has dark solid sides. But I know there can be a big difference from lamb to lamb. Any thoughts from those in the know?

Friday, May 1, 2009

9pm Bedtime...Here I Come

Take a look at Silvy rousing the lambs from nap-land and moving them out of her way. Why? Because she can. Silvy has been on the bottom rung since she was added to my flock. And now, much to her delight, there are 6 lambs that she can boss around when the dams aren't looking. She's no longer the lowest in the land. She gets in big trouble, though, if one of the mothers catches her headbutting the babies. That type of superiority is not allowed.
Even though it rained again today, I was pleasantly surprised by this afternoon's events. I expected my last pregnant ewe, Sian, would probably lamb on Sunday-just by the looks of her bag.
She was sunk and in early labor when I ventured out to let the girls out around 12:30 pm this afternoon, though. She had claimed a stall in the barn so I just added some fresh bedding and shut the door. By 2:30 she had two fresh lambs up and nursing with gusto. Way to go, Sian!
And now...I can go back to sleeping through the night. No more 2am barn checks. Ahhhh...Sweet Sleep.
Sian has lovely solid black, crimpy, soft fleece. I put her with Bombarde this year so I was really eager to see what she would give me. She gave me a gorgeous grey ewe lamb to replace Rachel some day. This lamb is glossy black except for the tiniest hint of sugar lips. I think I'm going to like her! The big surprise was a dynamite katmoget ram lamb with spotting though. Again, where did the spots come from? I have never bred for spots. Sian never even had so much as a white hair on her head at birth. And I can't see any spotting on Bombarde either. It's just so funny when these recessives pop out. The head spotting was obvious, but the body was all mottled so I'm not sure if that is just kat coloring or white. We'll see tomorrow.
Both lambs seem to have that ultra crimp Bombarde always throws. Beyond that, I can't say. The barn was dim and Sian was being such a great mom I didn't get involved much. I did check her bag and milk was flowing. The lambs ate several times without my help while I watched. Tomorrow I'll get a better look.
Thus ends lambing season at Boston Lake Farm. 200% lambing this year-a first ever. 5 ram lambs and 5 ewe lambs-a fair ratio. I feel very blessed.