Sunday, September 24, 2006

there's more

Wait, I have more rams....and lots more ewes.
Hopalong....he is a medium size, ok horns, shorter crimpy fleece...moorit yuglet sokket. Hopalong has grown the body weight to take over as head ram in the meadow....he reminds me of a bulldozer...just puts his head down and runs....and everyone tries to get out of his way.
Buttons....also head ewe. Buttons hates to be cooped up, so I can't just put her in the breeding pen. She will announce to me that she is ready, and will go in with her ram and want out the next day. Last year was her first year with hopalong. She had a lovely single after her night of passion. Tiara, was every bit the queen. She was a lovely yuglet sokket bielset in musket. I believe Buttons to be AgAg....I have never gotten a solid from her. I could not question the fleece, the conformation or the markings in that pairing, so this year I will wait for buttons to give me the signal, and walk her over to hopalong's pen.
Miss muffet. An AgAaBBBb yuglet flecket in grey from Buttons. Miss muffet has the same wonderful fleece as her dam, and the same spotting ability. This year with hopalong she had a yuglet sokket ewe in moorit, and a smirslet flecket ram in black. Although both were quite petit, I couldn't ask for a better set of lambs. good horns, good tails, great markings. Miss muffet will go back in with hopalong.
A full sister to muffet, but a year younger, thimble is a yuglet sokket in musket. This year with hopalong she had twin rams both pretty much yuglet sokkets, one Ag one Aa....I'm thinking her lambs were pretty small....but Thimble is pretty small. I'll try again this year and watch her food intake better.
Curlylocks. A yuglet flecket in grey....wonderful fleece....she is very short. She is a daughter to muffet.
This spring curly locks had twin rams with hopalong. Both yuglets, one a sokket in black and a flecket in grey. Both these boys are on my list for the naile show....I just can't seem to decide between them. I prefer the horns and fleece on the flecket, but prefer the conformation and coloring on the sokket. Tune in next week I have to decide.
Thinking about curly locks boys....I would have to let her try again with hopalong....I would have prefered bigger lambs....but curly locks has short legs, and is a tiny girl. Go for it, Curly!
Viola, is a daughter of mcgyver.....she carries spotting, and has produced it with hopalong. Last season I put her in with an viola is either emsket or shaela....I wound up pulling him, and Viola was bred by a moorit. Her twin rams show no spotting, so this year she goes back with I liked her lambs with him better.
Polka....a lovely yuglet flecket, Polka was from the last set of triplets from Pandemonium. She has scurs, bright black on her white head they give her small frame a dramatic look. She had her first lamb, a yuglet sokket ewe, and took on mothering a second little black ewe too. She is a good mom, and still keeps her lambs close. I will mention that she is a good example of why I don't believe all the hype about hst. Otherwise there would be headlines: flecket gives birth to perfect hst....?! She can go back in with Hopalong and we will see what she has. of riding hoods lambs, rapunzel is a yuglet bielset, sokket....she has a thick fleece, and I haven't microned it....but she seems to be a black sheep with a brown I call her shetland black....this is not sun bleaching. She is that way all the way down to her skin. I put her in with hopalong last year, but she didn't breed as a yearling. We will see if he can convince her this season.
And at the bottom of this list is Crissy...registered as her markings, not her name, she is a black sponget....why the registry would assume anyone was calling their little ewe lamb "black sponget" is beyond me. Crissy is actually a big girl, I bought her as a yearling. She has a crimpy single coated fleece, which is now greyish brownish...shaela colored. I like what her rams do for fleeces. Crissy bred with hopalong last season and had a lovely petite yuglet bielset sokket ewe lamb....what do folks do to get all those markings on one line? It's all I can do to put yuglet sokket in that little my sheep don't have multiple marking names....besides the registry is always sending me back sheets saying they can't read my writing. The twin she had is a moorit yuglet flecket ram....he looks like he has shoes on his feet. His horns are doing well for crissy rams....she has this funny genetics for horns....they seem to come straight back, and they are that tea cup type too....little curls...but way off the face....which is good because I am still using a couple of her boys .
That's it for another breeding pen! Eight girls for Hopalong. Isn't it nice to kind of know what the breeding pairs might have?

rain rain

We were lucky, the tornados seemed to go North....the heaviest rains seemed to go South.
We got two and a half inches....not enough to fill any creeks, but enough to keep the dust down and let any grass that is still growing have a drink.
I noticed a few rams out in the meadow, who had their faces washed....and commented on their white appearance. That was when we were checking the fences for any downed trees, and happened to notice the girls were all missing. We finally found them happily eating in the hay field. They stood around and pouted when I took them out.
I have been working on breeding lists....kind of like everyone else....except with more paper.
I have noticed that even with my efforts to move some sheep to other farms.....I still have a lot of sheep.
I also noticed that even with a few girls taking the year off from breeding, I still am looking at too many lambs.
I am still planning to breed ten of the nineteen ewe lambs who appeare to be staying here forever. Did I say 19? Ouch!
I have two reasons for that. One, some of the girls will be bigger than I prefer if they are not bred this fall. and Secondly, I have found breeding two year olds can be worse than breeding ewe lambs. I tried, honest, to not breed lambs, but have found over the years....that the yearlings take automatically to birthing and feeding lambs....and the two year olds having their first lambs do not. Kind of like they don't grow up properly. The two year olds have a longer birthing period, they don't seem to stretch as easily. They resent the pain associated with child birth....and can flee from the lamb causing their pain. Yes, I have had two year old reject their lambs too. And they seem to be much more scared, not letting the new lamb feed without holding them still the first few times.
I did have two yearlings with their own first lambs take foster lambs....without hardly asking them. Polka had her lamb without assistance, dried her off and came into the jug....and hardly noticed the little orphan who attached herself to the other side. Those two little girls are both still following mom. They are not the same, one being black and white...and the other just black.
Older shetland ewes will usually question any lambs straying near them, and must be fooled into taking an orphan.
So aside from having lots of girls to fit into breeding groups. I am trying to move some around to different rams if I wasn't totally happy with their lambs.
So, starting with my olders ram, minwawe pan, I just cannot question pairing him with Prancer. They are identical in black and white markings. both good sized....pan being oldest also weighs more than the others. Prancer....not bred til two.....has had twins and a single, all ram lambs look really like their sire,...oh and dam...they have had good horns, good tails, and seem pleasant enough for rams.
I question the pairing with Riding hood....she is small, is either dark brown...or just carries a modifier. Her micron was 22....She did have a lovely, maybe dark brown yuglet, bielset sokket ewe a year ago from pan. Ridinghood also likely wasn't bred until two....I'm pretty sure Pan is higher, like a micron of 28. Last season ridinghood had triplets with pan. Two ewes and a ram. One of the ewes is a smirslet with wonderful yellow mioget coloring. Now I can't argue with those two lambs, so I'll try ridinghood again with Pan this year. But I'll keep an open mind about what she produces.
I'm going to try glory with Pan this year. Glory is a nice rich moorit, but pan is recessive for moorit. Glory had two smirslets with spots last season, So I know she is carrying good spotting genes. She is slightly smaller than I would prefer with pan....but I would like to see her lambs with him and pan isn't getting any younger. I should keep a reserve ram lamb from him one of these years.
Magnolia is a good match to pan. She is a yuglet sokket in moorit, she had a yuflet flecket with spots last year, I would like to see if she can reproduce her own markings with pan.
Berry is a natural. She has been jumping the fence this summer to eat in the backyard, so is big and heavy and will be a good mate for pan. Berry had a lovely yuglet sokket ram lamb her first lamb at age two. I missed the birth just long enough to have the fellow dead when I got there. So I'll bet she and pan can have a nice well marked lamb together.
I also have Plum on this list. Plum is likely a shaela or emsket....she is small, but carries spotting from her sire. I bred her to my katmoget this past year, and feel she should have a chance at having a well spotted lamb. Since I want to expand pan's breeding group, I thought she would have a good chance at a marked lamb with him. I still may pull her because of size at the last minute....but ridinghood is smaller, and I can usually put her in with pan....she has always had well marked lambs with we'll see.
That's one breeding pen....I imagine that is as many ewes as some people breed in a year....I have 10 more. Pens that is....

Friday, September 22, 2006

yippee....breeding time!

Wow is it fall already?
What happened to that hot summer?
Let it go....fall will do for me.
Yes, I seem to have lots of sheep left after all. I did lose some friend this summer....but I still have some daughters and this sheepy flock.
First chore of the fall will be looking at the condition of my ewes I want to breed and my rams.
Then I have to consider which rams are mild enough that they can have breeding groups within sight of other breding groups. I do have a couple of fences that were hard used last year, and I need to add some posts and secure them this month.
Last year I did a harsh cull in October, and removed every ram lamb that was not being used for breeding. This year I have to keep a few for naile, and there are a few more I want to have the luxury to watch until spring. They either have good spotting, or wonderful fleece....or amazing horns. Some are small, like my triplet smirslet ram lamb....who must weigh less than the cats.
I admit, I do principally breed for spots. I have collected my own rams for several years. I do have enough different lines that I am not breeding back children or grandchildren.
I am still using Pan...a black yuglet sokket with amazing forward curling horns. Spots, a triplet yuglet flecket in black....also has nice regular curved horns, but mostly because he was my bottle baby. Hopalong...a medium sized yuglet sokket in moorit, and Captain....a darker moorit smirslet with some white on his ankles...but not a sokket. Captain has not yet gotten iset fibers....and doesn't seem to sun-bleach. Last year, I added another bottle baby, Two Spots....he is a moorit yuglet flecket...small because he was a bottle baby, but has the most amazing horns....he also managed to have great spotted lambs. Cupid...another yuglet flecket in moorit....half brother to captain.... was kept and tried and he seems to have added another feature to his amazing fleece....I can't complain about that, when he also produced spots. I am also using two sheltering pines boys...Merlin, a katmoget and emsket.
Let me go look at places to put these boys for breeding and I'll talk about my ram lambs from 2006.

Monday, September 18, 2006

fall chores

OK, I'm tired of driving places. I love being home. I have all kinds of things to do for fall.
First....I am counting sheep. I'm down...but then I'm up. I am down in numbers of yearling and older ewes, but the numbers go up when I count the ewe lambs here.
First chore for fall should be to make sure your registrations and transfers are in order. Yes, I registered a number of sheep....but no....I haven't gotten the transfers done yet.
I still have a few of my own girls who haven't been registered. I have an excuse, we had a wedding this year. That occupied every waking hour for a long long time.
So I have been checking my computer records to make sure my sheepies are properly registered. A mention of records. Even though I have not "joined" the mad rush to volunteer scrapie status....I am required to keep records of every sheep born and their parents available.
I am up to 382 lambs born to my ewes here. That of course doesn't include anyone born after I bred and sold the ewes. I would guess I was present for about 300 of those births.
So now that I think I have most of my ewes and rams registered....I can think about breeding them. HAAAA!
That is the best part of raising sheep. Combining ewes and rams for the best lamb possible.
I was showing a few ewe lambs who had not been handled since they were born....and I noticed that after a few days of handling and loving....those little ewe lambs began to like having people pet I have a mini flock of girls in my barn right now.....Waiting for me to come catch and hold them.
Aside from that kind of fun....have you wormed lately?
We have had more frequent rains this year, and true to Missouri fame....the worms have been harder to deal with. I will have to worm before breeding this year. We used to catch everyone and worm and trim hoofs before breeding season. We don't have to trim hoofs here....there are so many rocks that the sheep keep them trimmed just walking.
OHHHH! It must be really fall. I pulled all my ram lambs out last night. Yes, I can tell...there is a chorus of baaing coming from the barn pens. Little boys waiting for mom to come feed them. Little!?? These boys are the biggest fat sheep...they are in many cases almost as tall as their moms.
I chose another bunch of show sheep for the naile show in November....I really need another pasture that doesn't have prickly bushes and nastys that get in the fleece, where I can run the show crew. I have a pen for the little boys....but not for the little girls. In September, I kept the girls in with the boys....but not for this time of year.
So now to the subject of breeding pens. Ideal breeding pens would be out of eye contact with any other sheep....with a shelter from rain, and plenty of hay and water. This becomes harder with the number of rams you are breeding. I used to have pretty good breeding pens for about 8 rams. I am down a bit here....and would love to put up a few more before the end of next month.
Have you considered where you are going to put extra rams? There is a fall exercise....going to the sale barn with extra ram lambs.
Well, I am off to pet girls now. Go hug a sheep for me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


WVF Pandemonium 4/7/1995 to 9/9/2007
Yes, Pandemonium couldn't wait until we got home from Jefferson. She sucumbed to the same heat wave that sent Panda on this summer.
She was a good old girl, with a wide nose, fatty face, and short legs. She liked our daughter best, I suspect she liked tobacco. She microned at 24 in her later years....she was a grey spotty with a little eye make-up in the fall. Pandemonium had twins and three sets of triplets for us. She lost her ability to feed her lambs herself, but faithfully raised them...bringing them to the fence whenever she thought it was bottle time., and yelling for them...and protecting them from intruders by positioning herself at their tails while they ate.
A faithful mother she was preceeded by several of our favorites....Lefty and whitey, whiteytoo, and mopsy. She is survived by her son, Spots...our yuglet flecket breeding ram, daughters: Two step, Flopsy, Angel, and Miracle....Polka our yuglet flecket, and Do-si-do Polka's daughter a yuglet sokket. At other farms there is Babaleena, a yuglet sokket and mother of Grandson: McGyver the famous yuglet flecket ram at Sheepy Hollow in Wisconsin, and Zorro, her great-grandson...the original hst of Bluff Country. Pandemonium even has a great-great-granddaughter in Canada. Grandsons and grand daughters could fill this page with descriptions of yuglets and sokkets and fleckets in both moorit and black.
We will miss her quiet looks, and grudgingly given affection. She was a special old girl right out of Dailley stock. Pet your old girls for me, you never know when they are ready to leave for that big green pasture. Do you suppose there will be sheep in heaven?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

my pretty baby didn't sell!

What do you do when it is fall and your lambs you had for sale didn't sell?
It's your baby....they are pretty, they come to eat out of your hand....they have beautiful fleece, color, tail, horns, legs even!
They are perfect!!!!!
And you are stuck with them.

Well...easiest solution to the extra rams, and ewes if you grew up on a to ship them
Look for a sales barn near you, find out when they take sheep....and drive them there, pat them, and hope them are fine until whatever happens.
I didn't grow up on a farm.

I would like other solutions. You can hold ewe lambs and even some ram lambs over until they are yearlings. You need extra feed, pasture, pens, patience. Lots of potential breeders are looking for bigger sheep... full grown rams....proven sheep.
If you like breeding ewe lambs....and they are big enough, go ahead and expose them to a good ram....or a good looking ram lamb.

I say that because I don't put my breedable ewe lambs with a full grown ram. I hate to have them do something wrong and have the ram butt them. It can happen. I also don't want a big ram to cover my little baby ewe. So I enjopy trying out ram lambs on the bigger ewe lambs.
So then, you can advertise ewes....I wouldn't guarantee them, you may get disappointed buyers.
I will quote Juliann here....the way to guarantee the lamb you get from that ewe is the most perfect lamb you ever hoped to sell the ewe before she lambs.
For that very will find many breeders selling the yearling and older ewes with lambs by their sides in the spring.....the best of both worlds. The breeder gets to choose which lamb they can keep....and the buyer gets already birthed lambs at a reduced price with a ewe mom.
There are some breeders who rent out sheep....yes, really!
You keep the sheep for the winter...feed and keep it healthy, and you get the lambs.
Not a bad deal....but beware the health problems. Opp is passed through breeding and milk....if your rental is exposed and comes back to your flock...the Opp can be passed to all his or her next partners....and from them to the next partners. There are lots of other health issues to bringing sheep from one farm to another.

Maybe you just need to advertise those babies your breeder friends....cut the price...privately of your first born that's Rumplestiltzkin isn't it.....spin straw into gold....make your wool sales for those extra mouths by selling yarn.
Well I'm grasping-at-straws-here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

what is important?

I've been amiss it seems. Missing the point of showing and selling sheep.
I'm thinking that both of those efforts can fog what's really important.
Sheep, no matter how charming and lovable they seem, cannot replace people in our lives.
Who is your most important person? Have you let them know that they are that important to you?
Does showing your precious lamb or ram with his shiny horns mean more than your friendship with the other breeders showing? Will you latch on to a prospective sheep buyer, and discredit the other sheep around you to make sure they buy from you?...this year, next spring?
I hope not, people will eventually learn that there are many pretty sheep, some fancy, some plain....some friendly, some shy....but sheep they are.
Same thing with breeders....some breeding a long time....some less....some experienced....some not....some love each and every sheep....some think of them as livestock. Buying a sheep is not like adopting a child....we could all buy the very next sheep we saw and make a wonder flock addition out of that sheep. It really doesn't matter, a sheep is a sheep.

They are not people, not friends, not helpers, not permanent. The oldest sheep will never live as long as the children, the partner, the parents, the neighbors.
No matter how good a shepherd you attempt to be, the sheep will get sick, they will be sold, they will die. Look around. Is there a real person there, who you ignore....because your sheep are "better".....more expensive.....less expensive.....longer wooled, shorter wooled, straighter legged, shorter tailed.....always spotted, always twinned.....always friendly....always best.

Every fall, I take stock of my flock. What can I do better? Who should breed, who shouldn't?
Who could be sold....who do I HAVE to keep. Which genetics do I need to keep in the spring?
I'm not sure when these thoughts cross my mind, in the fall or in the spring.....but often I say to my partner. That's it!
I'm not selling another sheep.

Let them buy some from others. I'm going to keep them all! Then someone nice calls or emails and explains that they NEED a sheep....and I am convenient. I have always relented....I have always gone ahead and sold my sheep to them. It seems like the friendly thing to do.
I will say that most of my friends, I have met because they are sheep people. Sheep people seem to have a caring way about them....they care about the most tiny lamb...the biggest ram....the strangest people. I number myself in there somewhere.
But , you know, I am not an important sheep person. I don't have the best, the only shetlands in the world. I do have the best husband, the greatest children, the kindest brother in the world.
Those are the things that really matter. I have GOT to love my family first, my friends next....and my sheep last.
Now I suppose I need to go out and feed those little sheep their they love me the most!