Saturday, September 25, 2010

Codon 171 Test Results

I took advantage of an offer from USDA to have my rams genetically tested for scrapie resistance at Codon 171.  An official USDA veterinarian collected blood samples from the five rams I have on my property on 9/9/10.  The results came in the mail 9/24/10. 

Helpful information supplied by Gene Check, Inc:
"Codon 171 is the most commonly tested codon.  It is used to test for susceptibility to Strain C scrapie (the most common form of scrapie in the U.S.)  Result possibilities are QQ, QR, or RR.
QR and RR sheep are resistant to strain C scrapie.
Codon 136 is used to test for susceptibility to Strain A scrapie (recently discovered in the U.S.)  Result possibilities are VV, AV, AA.
Codon 136 [testing] is necessary only on QR and QQ animals.  It is not necessary to test RR animals as they are automatically AA at Codon 136.
Only AA sheep are resistant to Strain A scrapie.
Testing at Codon 154 is generally used only for research purposes."

My flock results
Little Red Oak Ash      QQ
S'more Courante          QR
Boston Lake Clennam  QR
Boston Lake Tecwyn    RR
Boston Lake Beck        RR

I have listed this info with each sheep on the Flock and Sale pages.  Using this information, and that from Kimberwood Kavan's results in 2006 (171: QR  136: AA), I was able to add some knowns to offspring of these rams.  Therefore, some of my ewes also have some partial information.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Partly Sunny

It has been raining buckets for two days now.  The weather report predicts a little bit of sun peaking through the clouds by late afternoon.  I believe this community will welcome the light as the flooding recedes.

I have noticed how life can go for weeks without major incident.  Not that it is boring during that time.  But there is only a general hum of progress and maintenance.  Dishes, homework, music lessons, chores, grocery shopping, supper, bedtime...   Then there are specific periods in time where life is suddenly thrown into stark relief.  One is suddenly facing a crossroads.  A decision is weighted with complexity.  A clear mind is needed to navigate an intense situation...

This week has been filled with important issues.  It has required me to be very mindful of each word, each thought, I release into the universe.  I haven't been able to dance down life's path.  Life's path is suddenly overgrown with thorns and shadows.  If I'm going to continue forward I have to tread carefully and believe there is light beyond this immediate condition.

And there IS light.
No matter how torrential the rains or wild the tempest, above the turbulent atmosphere is a clear view of the sun.  The sun does not cease to shine, we simply must weather the storm.
I am grateful for God's love, mercy, and guidance today.  For truly, I could not withstand some trials without His presence and strength.  In fact, the minute I turned over my fears to Him in prayer, solutions appeared.  Assurance bathed me in warmth.  Peace gently spread over my soul.  Compassion supplanted hurt.
My path was cleared enough for me to move forward.
All is well.

Why am I sharing this?  What does this have to do with a small flock of sheep and the rhythms of farming?
For me...everything.
Though the troubles I faced this week had nothing to do with my flock or farm, Shetland sheep, the organization that maintains their registration (NASSA), and shepherds involved with this breed are currently facing division and turmoil.
Anger, fear, and hurt are being sputtered and spit across North America regarding this small adorable animal.

So what should be done?
Truthfully, I do not know.  I do not know if I have a solution, or if I even will be a part of a solution.

But know what I want for this breed...
I want the positive energy of each singular Shetland to be one of the most obvious messages of it's public persona.

And I know one cannot battle negativity with negativity.  The problems I faced this past week would have become nightmares for me and my family had I relied on my gut reactions and emotions.  Did I have a right to those feelings?  Certainly.  However, they were no more than swirls of justifications and self-righteousness.

If Shetlands are going to survive in North America, I believe every shepherd of them is going to have to tap into the power of light and love.  Sounds flaky, I know.  But how else do I express this? 

Let us each reflect before we speak or publish.  Let's remind ourselves of one terrific thing about a person that completely disagrees with us or has attacked us.  Let's open our minds to the positive aspects of each perspective.  Let's listen to the energy of each voice and allow ourselves to be moved only by those that seek harmony and growth, rather than those that seek division and hatred.  

In the course of world events...perhaps this is a tiny, insignificant battle.  What is not insignificant is our personal response to it's fallout.  I believe our individual actions create vibrations for better or for worse.  How do we each weigh in on this subject?  I'm not asking for your opinion on the subject.  I'm asking how you intend to conduct your response.  How do you navigate a path of thorns and shadow?  Do you draw strength from judgement or from faith in positivity?

I'm just pondering aloud.  Not that I'm dismissing what I said in a hope that no one will criticize me for my opinion.  But I can't control those responses in others and I have decided I don't really need to worry about them either. 

If there is one gift I would like to give the Shetland Community, and those folks that are considering becoming shepherds of these terrific little sheep, it is this: 
I believe you have a mind, and I believe you have the right to make your own decisions. 
Do your research. 
Work with breeders that encourage your dreams rather than press you to join their personal battle. 
A good breeder will introduce you to the breed in all it's variety, and refer you to other breeders if you are searching for something not offered in their own flock. 
How can they do this?  Because they are proud enough of their own stock, effort, and vision to realize it will survive because it is GOOD.

Shetlands are quite variable.  Shetland shepherds are quite variable.
The only similarity I can think of between each of my Shetland friends that are spread far and wide across this continent is NOT the type of sheep or wool they raise. 
The similarity is their kindness, civility, and decency. 
Each shepherd is in a completely different place with their flock goals at this time.
But I rejoice in their positivity and their commitment to these dear, small sheep.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumn Excitement

Even the ewes are getting feisty.

Late Summer Ewes

One of my new girls from Becky's farm: River Oaks Hannah.  She is so friendly.  It is hard to get a good photo of her because she is always so close.  I love her poll wool.  I want more fuzzy polls in my flock.  :)
Boston Lake Sian has taken over the flock from her mother 'Old Rachel.'  It was hard to watch Sian push her dam away from the salt tub and new food all this summer.  She had been a loyal daughter for four years.  I decided this spring to put Rachel down in the fall, and Siana's assumption of 'boss ewe' helped me realize I was making the right choice.
Most of the ewe flock...milling around...waiting for me to enter the pen and scratch their chins.
Sian's daughter by Bombarde...Boston Lake Leil.  Leil is an A-1 PEST.  She is first in line for cuddles, she bites the buttons off my sweaters and attacks my wedding ring every chance she gets.  She also chews on the electronet the minute the fencer is off...just to prove a point, I imagine.  She is the spoiled princess of the Matriarchy...always protected and favored within the flock.  Sheep know these things.
Little Red Oak January and her black katmoget ewe lamb, Boston Lake Esyllt.  Esyllt is my only Arvada daughter.  I love her to pieces.  She is MY little princess.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunbursting With Happiness

For my dear friend, Kim, who was wondering how the house-building was coming along.  We are nowhere near finished.  But we are making progress.   :)
With the help of our good friend, Chuck, something happened yesterday that I have been looking forward to for many years...
The sunburst that Clancy designed and I painted was finally mounted at the peak of our South gable.
I love it. 
I love the colors. 
I love how Clancy managed to capture the idea I had in my head. 
I love its three dimension-ness.
It makes me happy to look up and see that this detail of our dream house has become a reality.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Late Summer Ram Lambs

I should know better than to judge a lamb the day it is born.  But I had to learn that lesson over again this year.  When Nhu gave birth to two ram lambs by White Pine Arvada, I was disappointed because they were not ewe lambs...and because they had small horn buds.  I was hoping for girls or polled.  So I dismissed both as little cuties and a very nice pair, considering it was Nhu's first pregnancy.

Tecwyn & Beck
Fast forward to late summer... I am absolutely in love with Tecwyn.  He is beyond soft...and his parents micron tests confirm that I'm not imagining it.  His horns are either long scurs or aberrant horns.  So that puts him at a disadvantage in the polled market I am aiming to be a part of.  But I think he's just super in every other way, especially in the fleece department.

I loaded more photos on my Stock for Sale page.  In between rain storms and long grass I was able to manage a few snaps.  You'll find Tecwyn and Beck featured there, as well as updated photos for Clennam.  Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Greta glowing with early morning sunshine.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Late Summer Rams

"I like my clover patch!"
I snapped a few photos Saturday evening as the sun was going down.  We had just moved the adult rams into a new paddock.  With all the rain we have received this summer, the pasture growth is amazing.  Usually I have to supplement with a bit of hay in late August.  But the sheep are up to their bellies in grass and clover this season.  It would be wonderful to count on these conditions every year.  If so, we could easily sustain a cow-calf pair in the yard as well.  But nature is rarely that reliable.  So I stock my pastures according to worst case scenario.

Clancy did get the old 10 acre hay field plowed up this summer.  He will be disking it a few times this fall and we may put some rye out there to prevent erosion.  Next spring we will seed alfalfa.  Hopefully that will put us back on the road to producing our own hay again.  I bought hay last year, and I still have to buy hay for this winter.  Those costs prohibit increasing the flock size.  Putting up our own hay should allow more ability to add livestock.  Maybe we will do that cow-calf pair then...or add a milk goat!  Regardless, I will feel much more secure once we are harvesting our own hay.

In other farm news, the gardens have been supplying us with lovely veggies.  We have red potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes whenever we wish.  Clancy's watermelons and cantaloupe are coming on strong, but he will probably have to protect them from frost to get them to maturity.  It got down to high 30's the other night.  Brrrrrrr.

Speaking of shivers...Clancy does not yet have the wood stove going.  He is in the process of moving the outdoor boiler to a new location...50 feet from the house AND the new garage.  He has poured the cement pad already, but now we need to trench the new pipe line in.  Meanwhile, the house is getting awfully chilly at night.  Since I had the time today, I gave Betty Cockatiel a bath under some trickling water.  (Actually, she decided to take a bath while I was washing my hands.)  Then I got out the hair dryer and aimed it at both of us while she sat on my shoulder.  She loved it...and I didn't mind being warmed up either. 

Time to get back to work...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Micron Measurements Glossary of Terms

This Glossary was provided when I received my report back on the fleece samples I sent in for the OFDA 2000 micron test.  Click on photo to enlarge.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fleece Prices Listed

My Fleece page is now updated with prices, weights, and descriptions of each fleece.  Thank you in advance for looking. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bald Eagle

Clancy and the boys were working in the back yard a couple of weeks ago.  Some one looked up and there was this beautiful eagle sitting on the old dead tree just east of the back door.  We've seen eagles on this tree many times before.  It must be an advantageous perch. 
The photo is grainy, not because the bird was so far away, but because I have the camera set to the lowest density photo I can get them to upload on dial-up.