Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lots Accomplished!

LRO January
BL Vianne
I worked really hard through the good weather this weekend. I'm tired and my joints hurt, but so much around the farm is now ready for winter!
All the sheep were moved from the outer pastures to the sturdy pens near the house. Grain-trained sheep are such a pleasure to move. The ewe flock actually preceded me into their new pen and stood waiting by the grain trough. Good Girls!
Even the ramling flock, which has not received grain, followed nicely. It took longer, but no one went astray. Once Courante and Ash (the friendly ones) got a taste of the oats, they were eager to follow. The rest of the boys didn't want to be left behind, so they caught up after a few nibbles of grass. One look at the piles of alfalfa hay in their new pen and they galloped right in. Good Boys!
I moved the two breeding pens yesterday. I had one hand on Bombarde's horn while Anna ran loose beside us. The hold was mainly to keep any unwanted pushing from having momentum. The grain pan did the steering and I tried to keep up with the locomotive that is a full grown ram in determined motion.
Arvada was a totally different story. He dug in his heels and refused to budge. So I pulled. About half-way to his new pen, we passed the bachelor fence and he decided he should fight to protect his harem. Needless to say, I didn't allow this, and my interference was not appreciated. A little closer to the house, my arms felt like spaghetti and I gave up on trying to stay in control of Arvada. I let go and focused on getting his ewes to the pen. THEY at least had the sense to follow the grain. I left Arvada on top of the hill intently contemplating a charge down toward the bachelor pen. About the time the ewes and I got to the winter pen, Arvada came charging toward us and ran right into the confinement. I guess he decided it wasn't any fun to show off if his girls weren't watching.
After everyone was settled with hay and water, I pulled all the electronet up for storage. I brought up all the extra buckets, tubs, feeders, and temp posts. My yard hasn't looked this tidy since last fall. Feels Good!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exceptions to the Norm

Beautiful Rachel
Breeding Season '09 is shaping up differently than I expected. Lack of time and space have been factors; as well as the projected departures of Bombarde and Arvada. I'm employing two practices that I don't usually favor: breeding ewe lambs, and breeding early.

For better or worse, here are the decisions I made for this season. I'm hoping for the best.

ShelteringPines Bombarde is paired with Bramble Anna Belle for a third time. She has been with him since November 3. I plan to keep her with him until about Dec 8. Hopefully I will get another dynamite set of twins from this cross. My wish is a polled ram lamb. But I wouldn't mind more ewe lambs either.

WhitePine Arvada was given Boston Lake Lyneth & Nhu (Anna's '08 twins), and also Little Red Oak January. January is the only ewe lamb I'm breeding this year. I wanted to put the girls most likely carrying polled genetics to Arvada before he left in hopes of some keeper ewe lambs. The fleece pairings of this group are also exciting. This group was put together November 7 and will disband around December 12.

Sometime this coming week I will put the 3 remaining adult ewes with their rams. Currently, I plan to put LRO Ash over WhitePine Silverthorne and Boston Lake Sian.

S'more Courante will get SheepyHollow Rachel. I feel bad he won't be getting more girls his first year, but I plan to use him heavily next fall.
Sitting out the breeding season this fall are the ewe lambs Boston Lake Darla Gay, Qdy, Vianne, and Leil.

Lambs should start arriving around the last day of March. The first four ewes will hopefully come in well before the other three, thereby keeping the barn from becoming too crowded. As mentioned above...I'm hoping for the best.

Monday, November 16, 2009

October Micron Reports

Click on a photo for its larger version.

I was excited to get my micron reports in the mail yesterday. Here are the results for the seven sheep I had tested. Each sample was scissored from midside, just behind the last rib.
I wasn't too surprised with any of them. While I don't think in terms of microns and numbers, the reports did not change the standing I had already given each sheep according to my own assessment of fleece characteristics. It feels validating to know the numbers support my personal preferences.

Bombarde had a higher micron than I expected. I thought long and hard about how that could be and suddenly I had an epiphany: Last spring's micron report was from a rather large lock sample that was dangling off his rump. This was likely snagged by Unicorn's horn in some tussle. I suspect that this sample was not the full spectrum of fiber I would have obtained had I scissored off the same lock. Perhaps some of the courser fiber remained anchored while the finer fiber ripped out? Probably. Although it is evident from both reports that Bombarde is very consistent. Maybe this is just the difference in his third fleece and his fourth fleece? I shudder to think of how naive I was of the whole micron sampling process back then. Whatever the reason, I appologize if the initial report was misleading. I understand now how carefully samples need to be collected and how they are difficult to compare unless they are collected in the same manner.
Black Kat
Modified Moorit
Musket Kat
spring 09
Black Kat
Moorit Kat
Black Kat