Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lambs For Sale

Boston Lake Carys and Clennam are for sale.
They are twins
by ShelteringPines Bombarde and out of Bramble Anna Belle.
14 weeks old.
I consider both to be 'keeper' quality. But I still have Anna Belle in my flock, as well as three full blood sisters to these lambs.
Mid-side fleece samples from both parents have just been sent in for micron testing and those reports will be posted as soon as they return.
White ewe lamb. Carries Moorit and either Katmoget or Grey pattern from sire. I feel certain Carys is a poll carrier, and she has a 50% chance of having a second polled gene from her 'half-polled' sire. She has excellent conformation, tail, and ear-set. Her wool will be 4 inches long, crimpy, and soft.
Click here to see fleece samples from her 2 year old and yearling full sisters (Lyneth, Nhu, Vianne).
The only weakness I find with Carys is that she currently has a slight under bite. It is very slight and her other full siblings that have had this trait have grown out of it. The lambs out of her full sister have excellent bites, so I feel it is an easily corrected weakness.
Grey ram lamb. Carries Moorit and Solid pattern.
Excellent top line, conformation, tail, bite and presence. Will have 4 inch long crimpy, soft fleece. The most uniformly crimpy birthcoat I have ever seen. I feel Clennam is a half poll with slow-growing scurs. I would keep him as his sire's replacement if he wasn't already related to so many of my younger ewes. Clennam's weakness is his ear-set: his ears are horizontal rather than set above the horizontal. (They do not droop as the photo angle suggests.) His full-sister has lambs with excellent ear-set so I also think this trait can be corrected.
For more info please contact Sabrina Wille Erickson
Thank You!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sent Off

I skirted the last of my fleeces over the weekend.
And today I sent off my 'last-rib mid-side' samples to Texas A & M for micron testing. As soon as the results are back I will list my fleeces for sale with their respective info. It has been a busy summer, so to be this far along with my fleeces makes me feel so accomplished! WooHoo!
Here are photos of the samples before I sent them off:
The Rams
The Ewes

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


After several mouthfuls of new grass, Beck decided he was curious about the lady with the camera. Since I don't pet my ram lambs, they don't often come up close. I didn't mind the temporary interest, though, because it gave me a chance to take some photos of him. The fresh paddocks have long grass which usually makes it difficult to get a shot of anything more than sheep coats and ears.

Beck is 12+ weeks old in these photos. My guess is that he carries one polled gene and one horned gene. I realize his scurs are significant, but my full horned ram lambs from previous years used to have much bigger horns by this age.

He is wonderfully sqare with a perfect little tail. He also has soft fluffy fleece. The dog-hair coat from his newborn days is long gone. I expect his fleece to have a good length too, since his parents had nice length.

Visiting the mineral pan.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Goal

Little Red Oak Ash
smooth polled ram
1 year old
Boston Lake Clennam
scurred ram lamb
13 weeks old
Considering the fact that both the rams I used last fall had huge horns, it is rather amazing that the scurs I got in ram lambs this spring are as small as they are. But scurs are not smooth polls. And smooth polls are what I want.
Setting up breeding groups for this fall will be a major challenge for me. I have several ewes that carry polled. Some may even be full polls. I have two rams with good potential. Ash is a smooth poll and Courante has snail scurs. The challenge for me will be to try to emphasize polled breedings even though my tendency is to breed for the best conformation possible.
Perhaps every shepherd favors a certain approach to creating breeding pairs. When push comes to shove, I favor creating a lamb with improved conformation...straighter legs, a shorter tail, a more correct ear set, a prettier head, etc. I am always trying to get softer fleeces with at least a 4 inch length. And now I am really trying to get polled lambs. But my brain has a very hard time considering a pairing for fleece or polled if I feel the resulting lamb may loose ground in the area of conformation. I cringe at the thought and end up rearranging breeding pairs until my mind is relieved. So a fleece goal may have to wait another year...Maybe the lambs might be half-polls. I tolerate the time lapsed for these goals to satisfy the conformation goals. It's just the way I'm hard wired.
So is this good or bad? Better or worse than another shepherd's goals?
I believe it is a good thing. But it is not better than anyone else, and certainly it is no worse.
If I have any kind of eye at all relating to sheep, it is to discern a well-put-together animal. By no means am I the best at this. What I still need to learn is infinite. But I have a passion for it and so I shall try to humbly consider it one of my talents.
However, every shepherd has some talent of discernment. Whether it is a discernment for fine fleece, lustre, silky handle, rare color, spot patterns, productivity, hardiness, polled genetics, friendliness, thriftiness, size, or any of the other traits Shetlands are noted for. If I can't help the way my eye is drawn to a specific type of sheep, there is a good chance other shepherds can't help it either. Their talents lead them in a certain direction.
This can be a wonderful thing assuming each breeder is still aiming for Shetlands that meet the breed standard. If Shepherd A has been focusing on fine fleece for several years than there is a good chance that trait is rather "set" in his flock. I introduce that trait to my flock by choosing to buy sheep from Shepherd A. Shepherd B may have been focusing on polled genetics or thriftiness with her flock. She would be the person to turn to for more of those traits. As long as each one of us is breeding to the Standard, we are free to focus our flocks according to our talents and resources.
I didn't set out to write about the 1927 Standard. I intended to say "I can't wait till my ram lambs are as polled as LRO Ash." But in writing out my thoughts, I realized I CAN wait. I would have to morph into a different person to rearrange my strategies for reaching flock goals. That led me to ponder why I am like that, thereby realizing that everyone has their tendencies. But what makes it possible for me to benefit from the introduction of other flock's genetics, is the Shetland Breed Standard. If that is the measure we are all holding against our sheep, one person's flock goal can be utilized by another shepherd to create a more well-rounded sheep. If the Standard has not been applied, then a specific trait may be introduced, but the identity of the breed will be compromised.
When I critique my own lambs, it is easy to see the good. They are cute, after all, and much longed for. Each one is a fulfillment of a dream. But then, as a breeder, it is my job to go back and look at each one with a harsh eye. What parts of the Standard does each lamb fall short of? If I still think the lamb is worthy of breeding - for no lamb is absolutely perfect - do I have the integrity to point out the weaknesses and faults of the animal in my advertising? There might be a buyer out there whose flock is strong where my lamb is weak, and that flock can thereby absorb the weakness while still benefiting from my lamb's strengths. There are a whole lot more buyers out there that might not yet be able to notice my lamb's fault, and unwittingly pair him with animals that will only exaggerate the fault. The only guards we have against the eventual unraveling of our breed is to use the Standard and exercise our integrity.
Even though I support the wording of Appendix A and it being a part of our Standard, I can understand how some people might be uncomfortable with it. One thing that I haven't been able to understand, though, is how some breeders have voiced that they never really paid attention to, or gave much weight to, the Standard in the first place. Those sentiments surprise me. So I guess it is fair to be open about my vision as a breeder of Shetlands. I do take the Standard seriously. I do try to use it as the final measure against which all of my stock is judged. For better or worse, that is how I look at my flock.
Blessings to all as we journey through this life together.


This is one of two Black Walnut trees that we have planted in the yard. Our friend, Gail, gave them to us as seedlings. The parent is a great old tree in her yard that produces excellent nuts. I love to watch these young trees grow.
My potted peppers are doing well.
Several have already set fruit. One was maimed by an errant soccer ball on Sunday morning, but I think it will recover.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yet Again...

Another porcupine for Greta. Five quills were sticking out of her nose this morning. A trifle!
AND.......she found a skunk. Lucky us.

As the Lambs Grow

A bit late, Clancy and I gave the first round of C & D vaccines to the youngest four lambs last night. We also changed coats on a couple of them and two of the yearlings. I think I will order a few more size D coats. It seems to be the standard sheared adult ewe size for my flock...or the size for the yearling with some fleece.

My lambs were in size A coats at 8 weeks. By 11 weeks they are moving into the B size.
The ewes mobbed us while we were in the pen. Clancy gave shots while I tried to keep the girls from biting him and tugging on his clothes. For some reason, if my girls aren't getting the attention they want, they bite us on bare skin. It pinches! They are so naughty and spoiled...some more than others...(Leil & Sian!)
Tecwyn at 10 weeks.

Tecwyn from the rear.

Clennam at 11 weeks.

Carys at 11 weeks.

Esyllt at 13 weeks, with her mother, January.

I love Esyllt's beautiful head.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Deceptive Tranquility

The air is heavy tonight.
And the bugs are bad...very bad.
Even though it is quite warm out, all the sheep are snuggled up against each other to reduce their body area available for deer flies and mosquitoes to bite.
Bring back the breeze!


We changed coats on the two mature rams last night. The mosquitoes were terrible so we didn't linger to look at fleece too much. I just snapped a quick photo and then we put the bigger coats on. I was glad to see that both boys are in good condition. And their fleeces are looking very nice.
S'more Courante was not pleased about being handled. He was struggling a bit so his stance is all messed up for the picture.
LRO Ash loved every minute of his handling. He stretched himself out to take full advantage of it all. He didn't mind me picking up his legs and shoving them through the different from the ewes. My tamest ewe will still kick and turn inside out to avoid the coats. Ash behaved as though he was getting a personal massage. He'd be in our laps if we weren't careful to avoid spoiling him.
I'm really looking forward to using these two boys. Spring 2011 is going to be exciting around here. :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Sheepy Hollow Rachel
Late October 2009There is an ongoing discussion within the Shetland Sheep community about fleece, length of fleece, and double/single coats. Which traits define a real, proper, historical Shetland? I thought about defining my view of the situation...I do have opinions, of course. But my goal for this post is to share information and notes of my experience with a certain fleece line that I have in my flock. I have no intention of proving a point, convincing someone, or drawing a conclusion.
A picture is worth a thousand words...I simply invite each reader to look at a particular fleece type they may, or may not, have ever seen before.
Sheepy Hollow Rachel has, what I consider to be, scadder. It is easy to see in these photos because she is Ag (grey). She gets a mane of black hair behind her head and a strip of this similar hair down her backbone. Her daughter and granddaughter, Sian and Leil, both have this trait.
The other sheep in my current flock do not have scadder.
This scadder does not release when the rest of the neck fleece is experiencing the rise. I cannot pluck it away with the other loose fleece in the early summer.
When the fleeces are sheared, this scadder hair is sheared with the rest of the fleece. These areas of scadder are like small areas of dramatic double coat on a fleece that has a four inch staple with a bit of tip. If I want it removed, it is easy to pull the guard hair out of these locks to make the product more uniform.
Boston Lake Leil
June 2010
The scadder grows faster and longer than the rest of the fleece. Leil was shorn April 8, 2010.