Monday, June 29, 2009

Horn Update

Rigg, Dan, and Roux are all 2 months old now. This snapshot shows the differences between one of my full-horned Unicorn sons: Dan, and two Bombarde sons that I believe might be half-polls: Rigg and Roux.
At first I thought the Bombarde x Rai Min twins might be half-polls with only tiny scurs. But in the last month those horns have come in rather dramatically. If you click on the photo, or look closely, you can see how the first inch or so of horn on them was knife-like, flattened material. Their horns have come in much fuller since then.
I still think Roux is a definite half-poll. His horns are much smaller in diameter than the others. I'm not sure about Rigg's, but I wasn't thrilled with his fleece quality from the beginning, so I never invested much hope in him. He will go to the freezer despite his good conformation.
Bence, my other Unicorn ram lamb, has full, wide-spread horns like his half-brother Dan. And Jchen, the katmoget Bombarde son out of Sian, also shows every indication of being fully horned with a terrific wide-spread rack.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Now are the days I think of as summer...this lush mid-June beautiful...
The breeze is scented with clover. Dawn is full of promise. Twilight is illuminated with twinkling fireflies. All is lovely.
Sally lounges happily on the porch.
The native roses are in full bloom. I think of them as my adopted daughters...entrusted to me at the edge of this deep woods and the blue shore...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dappled Dolce

Dolce and Dan.
Dolce has been especially affectionate lately. She is always the first to come up. However, when her lambs are very young, she prefers not to have too much interference from the shepherd.
This is the time of year when the ewes become really friendly. I suspect they suddenly prefer my tranquil scratches and pets to the brutish demands of their hefty twin lambs. Once in a while I'll see one of the ladies stop to nurse her lambs. The youngsters butt the ewe's udder so hard they lift her back feet off the ground. The ewe walks away after about 1 full second of snacking. The lambs hold on for dear life and then are left behind, dazed and confused as to why mommy doesn't love them anymore. They dog her steps like burly gnats. She never looks back for them anymore. They can fend for themselves for the most part now. The lambs are reluctant to give up their baby status, but it is a role the ewes seem quite determined to relieve them of around this time of year.
I always feel a little bit bad for the lambs. But they are rolly chunks from all the milk and good grass they are on, so there really is nothing to worry about. When the lambs are all three months old, I will pull out the ramlings and give them their own pen for weaning. The dams will still have their daughters for company. I don't separate them until breeding season in late November. This routine works well for me.
Have any other shepherds observed that, with regard to natural weaning, ewes tend to be more firm with their ewelings and more indulgent with their ramlings? I wonder if it is because the ram lambs are so bold and persistent or if it is because the ewes are teaching their daughters about or within the hierarchy of the flock. Or maybe it is just my imagination...?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Flock Micron Spreadsheet

It occurred to me that while I may not be able to navigate spreadsheet information very well, others might. So I am adding my flock micron spread sheet (provided by Texas A&M) here and to yesterday's post as well.
By this fall a few of the sheep on the list will not be in my flock anymore: Dolce is moving to another farm. Unicorn will be sold or put in the freezer. Delyth and Rai Min will be culled to the freezer. I haven't gotten a ewe lamb from Rai Min so I've been very undecided about her. Her lambs are always so much better fleeced when sired by Bombarde. But I want to keep my '09 ewe lambs and 3-5 rams, so I will need the space and I will cull her.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Micron Reports 23 April 09

My very first micron reports arrived. All samples were taken in front of the hip, well behind the last rib. Bombarde's was taken at the point of the hip. I think I could have gotten finer numbers if I had sampled farther ahead on the animal. But it is what it is.
I find it very difficult to wrap my brain around a list of sheep with numbers. My mind just isn't that good at interpreting information in that format. I have chosen to upload the histogram for each sheep. It includes the same information and I wanted to have a record of these here on my blog anyway.
Even though I am still learning how to understand and utilize this information, I was relieved to find that the sheep with fleeces I like best have the tightest peaks on the graphs.

SheltrgPines Bombarde


fawn katmoget

WhitePine Parker



WhitePine Arvada


black katmoget

Windswept Unicorn




Bramble Anna Belle


Boston Lake Nhu


black katmoget
Boston Lake Lyneth


SheltrgPines Dolce


emsket-dramatic double coat
Boston Lake Sian


Boston Lake Duvie


modified black
WhitePine Silverthorne


Boston Lake Delyth


black iset
Boston Lake Rai Min



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jackpot Vianne

When Anna Belle gave me twin ewe lambs that were white and katmoget, just like her '08 twin ewe lambs, I was pretty excited. Lyneth and Nhu are yearlings now and, without a doubt, they are my best sheep. They got everything good from both parents.
It appears as though Vianne and Niav, Anna's '09 lambs, are just as spectacular. Considering they have depressions in their skulls where many of my other ewes have bony lumps or knobs or points, I feel like I've hit the jackpot again with this pairing of Anna Belle to Bombarde. Time will tell how much they can contribute to my polled Shetlands goal. I hope it is quite a bit, though.

Vianne is aloof compared to her sister Niav, who literally climbs on me whenever I'm in the pasture. She looks like a clone of Lyneth from this time last year.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Honest Scrap

Attention: No one is obligated to play this game with me. I won't be hurt if you ignore this award completely. I admit that I wanted a real version of that orange metal sign so badly that I was willing to invest my time, secretly hoping the virtual one would materialize...didn't work. Shoot. All others may suit themselves, however, with no danger of repercussions. Peace and love to all bloggers. xoxoxoxoxox
Michelle from Boulderneigh has gifted me with this award and I decided to instantly respond lest I forget all about it like the last time she was so sweet as to award me. Thank you, Michelle.
Now...on to fulfilling the rules...
The rules state: "When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to said person so everyone knows he or she is real. Done! well, except the bragging part. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have 7 friends. Show the 7 random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with “Honest Weblog.” Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon. List at least ten honest things about yourself. Then, pass it on!"

Here are the 7 lucky people I have chosen to receive this cool award that I would SO buy at a flea market if I ever saw it there!:
Becky at River Oaks
Gail beside Little Red Oak
Kim in Echowood
Theresa basking Under the Son
Tifany on Rice River
Karen along Twin Brook

Now... the ten honest things about me:

Orange is my favorite color.
I hoard old metal things like a crow collects shiny bits.
Rap music makes me happy.
Closing my eyes on the porch swing gives me motion sickness.
I'm exhausted already trying to think of these honest details.
Ketchup is the grossest thing I've ever smelled.
I eat in a different room when my husband serves hot dogs (and ketchup).
When people talk during movies I actually wish I could slap them; but I don't.
I'm still allowed to watch movies with my family.
Llamas scare me.
Am I done now? Yay!!! I deserve the old orange metal sign all full of bullet holes!!!!! (There, that was my bragging.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

All Things Silvy

I visited the ewe pasture with the camera yesterday to get some pictures of the sheep that always seem to elude me. Some love posing for the camera. Some come in so close I can't get a view of anything but a big snout breathing on the lens. And some tend to hang out against the farthest fence line. Whitepine Silverthorne is usually too close or too far away.
Silvy let me snap away Sunday afternoon, though. I had just moved the fence to give the girls some new grass. The evening sun slanted dramatically across the horizon, flooding swaths of pasture with brilliant light and settling deep shade behind the trees. The nightly mosquito attack was still a little while off...The atmosphere was like the soft warm breath of a sleeping child: sublimely peaceful.
Silvy has really filled out this spring as a yearling. I like her low to the ground look. And her conformation is just excellent. I'm tempted to put her with Arvada for a line bred Jazz lamb. Truthfully, I've never line bred anything before and I am not sure I have the knowledge to do so. I do think this match would be complementary though. And it would hopefully produce a lamb with improved fleece quality. The point would be to keep the lamb, anyway.
On the other hand, I am eager to see if Silvy has polled potential. It would be ideal to breed her to a ram with obvious polled phenotype. Parker would be a good match in every way for that purpose except for he and Silvy are both greys. That is my singular reservation about that pairing.
If all goes well, I hope to bring in another ram lamb this summer. He might be the perfect match in conformation, polled, and pattern. I'm still tempted by the line breeding choice, however. Even though I have been doing research on the web about this topic, I would welcome any information that experienced breeders could offer about a half-brother/half-sister breeding. This would be line breeding for the sire-Wintertime Jazz, owned by Ramsay Farms. Jazz is a spectacular ram in my opinion, and I'm grateful to own two of his offspring.
Well Silvy...what am I going to do with you? Smooch you, of course! (That is if you ever forgive me for mugging you that day you escaped.) I suppose you can't help it if you notice opportunities the other sheep miss. Bright-eyed, alert, and sprightly are you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Willing to Trade Sheep

I thought up a list of items that I would love to have for my home, yard, farm, and family. I am willing to trade my top ram, Windswept Unicorn, for something(s) of relatively equal value. Only interested in working, good-shape equipment. Willing to consider other suggestions as well. I also have a few ewes/lambs I could perhaps add to the deal. Please take a look...
(3) 26" men's bikes (all-terrain tires)
cymbals for drum set
acoustic guitar
bass amp
small boat trailer
canoe or kayak
hay rake
Rocky brand sheep coats (Shetland sized)
cattle panels
electronet fencing
pedestal round oak dining table
6-8 wood dining chairs
raw honey
drum carder or spinning equipment

Email me at or leave a comment here.
Thank you for looking.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Shy Girl

The last of all the lambs to put her trust in me was Qdy. Finally she inched forward among the throng of ewe lambs demanding their chin scratches. While she was sandwiched between two other lambs, and couldn't see my hand, I moved across to her chest and rubbed. Instant bliss. I don't even think she knew the source of that bliss until a little later when she finally realized the others had wandered off and left her alone with me.
I stopped rubbing and she came out of her daze. Then at that crucial moment, she took a step toward my hand and asked me to continue. Of course.
Now she comes up every time I'm out in the pasture. She is still a little more wary than Darla. She is not as pushy as Niav, who paws me with her sharp little hooves if I stop petting her. Nor does she try to jump onto my hunched shoulders like Leil. Qdy doesn't want to come in too closely while others are being rowdy. If all is calm, though, I usually get a chance to pet her.
Qdy is so soft and sweet. A lovely little chunk of a lamb...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Duvie's Fleece Continued

I took Nancy's suggestion from the last post and flicked out the Duvie sample, then pulled out the long outer coat fibers. This is what I was left with.

I think it looks even more different in color now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


After picking through it a bit, I do feel Duvie has modified fleece. Her dam is emsket and her sire carried modified so this is no great feat.
What color is this fleece, though. And will it lighten more as she ages? I never saw a distinct line in her fleece as a lamb. I just noticed that she sun bleached differently than the other black sheep I had.
For your consideration: Duvie's fleece.
On white copy paper by a sunny window. Delyth (black), Duvie (?), Sian (black).
Same location with Duvie's fleece (center) on top of the two black samples.
Same location on oak table without the white paper.
Same location on white paper and using the highest setting of brightness on my editing program. Of course this is not how the fleeces look in real life-but I was surprised how similar the two black fleeces looked to each other compared to the Duvie sample (center). Her color is obviously not black. But again-what color is it?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Accidentally in Love

In the past five years I've experienced just enough heartache with sheep to keep the thinnest sliver of my soul aloof. Everything hoped for can be taken away. Dreams can be dashed to pieces. Goals can change. Circumstances can be defeating.
So why is my eye drawn straight to Little Miss Darla Gay every time I approach the pasture? Why does her attention mean more to me than that of the lambs that are technically my best-ever crop? Why do I delight in her softness even though her fleece will probably be long and double-coated? Why does her gentle, serene nature impress me more than the hilarious antics of the more boisterous lambs?
Because I love her. Accidentally. I didn't mean to love her. I only even considered keeping her because I'm selling her sire and her dam is going to live with another shepherdess.
I love her; and it is a vulnerable feeling. What if I loose her? What if I have to sell her to make room for my goals? Love equals pain in my heart if anything should happen.
Welcome to shepherding, Sabrina...