Thursday, May 31, 2007

reading blogs

Well, if my lambs manage to cry themselves to sleep tonight, I will wake them and pack the truck for the missouri sheep show.
And if I can find my way down...or up the road in the fog I'll take them with me.
So you can read all about the Alaskan shetlands....or The canadian shetlands....or the wisconsin and Minnesota shetlands....Those links are on the right of this blog....See what is happening, look at cute lambs...and think about what you are doing....he he.
I'll be back soon.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

love 'em

I have been discussing rams. Good ones, bad ones.
How could I not love this boy?

He is not a friendly ram, I was out pulling a fleece sample off him, and took several photos of his fleece parted. He just stood there wondering why I was there. I wouldn't jump over my fence with him right there....he has some weight to him, and I don't pet him, he makes a head move to knock my hand away. I'm not sure why he put his chin in my hand....maybe he just wanted a good picture of himself.

I don't consider Hopalong to be my best ram...the best two are now towards the bottom of our compost pile. Sorry, I miss them anyway. But Hopalong does what he can to produce his type of spots on his lambs.
I have a few new yearling boys who may turn out better lambs....but they are young yet, and we'll have to watch them.
So if Hopalong isn't my best ram....what do I do now? Oh, I'll still breed him to girls. I know what he is capable of now. His personality won't get him least not today.
He is turning out some calm lambs....that's nice. You would think ram number 3 could get promoted to the top when one and two are gone....but I think number one ram has to be earned by breeding consistently better lambs over a few years.

But he is cute isn't he?
Danged if I'll replace a nice ram with a high priced A-I technician and some sponges....My girls don't get many holes in them....I like it that way.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What are your goals?

I like spots...everyone knows that. I have wanted spotted sheep since I saw my first shetland lambs for sale, and went inside where there was one of the shetland posters. You know the ones, made from Sue Russo's book about spotted sheep. I was sold. I went to look at my first ram a few weeks later. I looked more at his pedigree than his horns. I paid for boarding him for a month while I went home and fenced a ram pasture.
That was fun! I fenced and a couple weeks later the lady who sold the ram to me said I had to pick him up that day. Seems he was ramming a goat who stuck his head thru the fence. Daahhh.
What did she expect if she had a goat dumb enough to get caught in the fence?
I took my ram home, and looked for more ewes. I found a few older ewes who's owner wanted to sell out of shetlands. You likely have found those people too. Eleanor and her daughter came with Eleanor's ram lamb. The lady said his sire was killed in a fight the fall before. That went right over my head. I remembered it after my little ram lamb flattened three, count them three six foot rail gates, trying to get to the other little ram...who by now had girls with him. Call huband....eliminate ram.
Start over looking for ram lambs.
I might say something here about people selling out of shetlands. There are several reasons that could happen. Moving, health of the owner....goals achieved or not achieved with shetlands. Some of these sales may even repeat themselves. My only thought there would be marketing. You have heard of buyer beware. If a person is selling one breed of sheep and keeping another....what does that say about the breed they are selling? Well, I knew. This lady had claimed she didn't have use for their wool anymore. I should have asked seems that either in their initial breeding or in their constant line-breeding....these sheep had terrible shetland wool. (A couple of years later I culled the whole line along with lambs.)
There is a reason I needed to buy ram lambs. I don't have a trailer. I was happier, seeing what a ram lamb can do with his horns....bringing ram lambs home in a dog crate in the back of my truck. No way I was stuffing one of those big boys in a crate. I found there were a lot of ram lambs that could go with the ewes I was buying. "Oh take him, free!" Otherwise, it seemed all those little rams had to be shipped. And most breeders find sending their cute little ram lambs to market is distasteful.
There are those breeders who will wether a ram lamb for you, and actually sell them that way.
Well good for them. I would rather keep them intact and ship for meat. That, because I assisted my vet wether 7 little rams one morning. I wasn't doing that any more...and I have heard too many horror stories about banded ram lambs breeding the flock. My unsold and unbred ram lambs go to market. Usually there are some tall lady sheep there they are happy for a while.
I usually get 35 to 45 ram lambs born here in a year....What number are sold for breeding rams?...Usually about 6....I use maybe another 4 or 6 myself....just to see what they can do. I may actually ship those boys after the breedings. Yes, I am tough on my ram lambs.
What do I base my choices on for breeding the ram lambs I keep and use? Well, I like I will usually breed spotted ram lambs. I don't choose for I might breed a smaller ram lamb as often as I would breed a normal sized ram lamb. No, I may not breed a larger ram lamb...because I prefer shetlands on the smaller side of normal. What's normal?....your choice.
Close or puny horns will cause the ram lamb to be shipped before breeding. I have always had great horned adult I have their genetics in my flock. I don't usually have to worry about close horns. I might look to see if the ram has even horns. I prefer to have a ram lamb's fleece feel good. I even photographed and kept a couple of ram lambs last year because I liked their fleece.
What are your goals? Do you want a small spinning flock with one breeding ram or even two?
You likely will be buying those breeding rams....because you have to start somewhere. If you breed all your girls to one ram, then you will have to have a second unrelated ram to breed the ewe lambs you keep. I have no doubt you will keep some. If you avoid breeding those ewe lambs for a year....then by the time they are two or three you have to buy a different ram.
Holy smokes, batman.....what if your first ram is perfect??? You HAVE to keep him for breeding....then you also HAVE to sell all your ewe lambs.
What if you have bought a ram lamb in good faith and he isn't ...HORRORS...perfect. Do you use him one year and then pass him along to someone dumb enough to buy him? Do you ask the original breeder to replace him because his horn is growing thru his jaw? Do you quietly ship him and grit your teeth and try to buy another? Well, usually it comes down to cash. If you spent a lot on the ram....the breeder will listen to your complaints and maybe give you a deal on another ram lamb. If you bought the cheapest ram you could should keep quiet and ship him. Maybe you should study this breeding field before buying another.
It has been suggested to me that no lambs should be shown or possibly sold....because it is too hard to judge their qualities until they are adults. On the subject of shows. You really should see a big sheep show. There are all these sheep big enough to saddle....and they are all sheared before they are shown. Why? Because these people want big meaty sheep. If they have a structural flaw....they shear them with more fleece left at that place to hide the flaw during the show. If they have the wrong color on their legs...the breeders spray paint their legs to the right color. Good grief!...Shetlands are the only REAL sheep at these big shows. Yes, they are small, and it's hard to judge how they may change. If you aren't sure who to buy to take home ask a couple of other breeders. Get some advise....we may not all be wrong. A sheep is a sheep is a sheep. There are those breeders who like to go around and find fault with other breeders' sheep. There are those breeders who like to claim their sheep are perfect....everyone of them. Don't believe everything you hear. If you find the "perfect" might die in a month. Was it worthwhile finding the perfect sheep? If the goal is the search, yes. If the goal is in the breeding, no. The challenge in this field is to breed a better sheep. So go ahead and fall in love with a little cuddly lamb. Maybe you won't like the lamb when it grows up....but maybe you will love that lamb's grandchild. If you are looking for a saleable sheep, study marketing. Any sheep could be sold with the right marketing. If you need help with marketing....I know someone who might help for a price. No, not that breeder....a different one. And I have a lot to learn too, but every once in a while I just want to keep all my sheep. I bred them....they're mine. Then my husband starts talking about hay and grain and fencing....and I run to the computer.
Sheep for sale.....darn....I like them too.

Monday, May 28, 2007


OK, I have never shyed away from touchy subjects.
We have been having a good discussion about polled genetics on rams and the ewes that also carry that trait.
The polled rams have been few and far between since shetland rams came to North America. They are legit....they even win prizes....they are still rams.

One of the things I worry about with the emphasis on polled rams is that folks who would not be breeding sheep are now getting polled rams with the belief that polled rams cannot hurt. That is totally false. A ram is a ram....polled rams are no better than a regular horned ram....if you send your toddler to look at a polled ram thru the fence....they are still in danger of having a head injury...just as they are with a horned ram. But folks will not be as careful of their polled rams as they are with their horned rams.

The second myth being offered is that polled rams will eliminate the need to cull bad horns. Now yes....polled is OK....but scurred is occurring with these polled genetics...we are producing half polled and half horned....what will the result be when lots of ewes carrying half polled genes get out in the general population? Maybe...lots of them are already out there....! Will horned shetlands become rare? I will say GOOD horned shetlands are rare already.
Folk are selling lots of shetlands as good horned sheep....just because their horns are not going into their jaw....that's not good horns....get a ram with horns far away from their head. By the time some of these award winning giant shetlands are three, those horns will be so round that they are pressing on the face and the shearer won't be able to get his blades under them.
Horns are a reason to cull....but no one culls their horns from a flock of close-horned ewes are still going to add questionable horns to your flock rams.
I even saw a post that someone wasn't breeding because they couldn't find a good ram....well....that sounds like a good excuse....but I'll bet there is some other reason, maybe they got stung, maybe they don't have an idea of what to breed, maybe they can't sell lambs.....You don't really need to breed your ewes every year....,my breeder friend has always just picked a half dozen to breed....she likes her sheep. No need to reproduce everything over and over again....sell wool. Your sheep can still pay for themselves.

There are trends in this farming business. Spots, spots on katmogets..., gulmogets, spots on gulmogets, polled.
If you check back, the gulmogets came combined with polled....thus the push to grow now polled katmogets and gulmogets are common....big horns on these two are not common...because the shorter pattern of katmogets and gulmogets have teacup...or round horn bases. Since katmogets and gulmogets come with shorter crimpy fleeces....shorter crimpy fleeces are now the rage....goes with the territory. I spin in the grease....I prefer a longer draft to my fleeces. We have always had differences in our sheep. That's why we like them....I just try not to go over board on one type, I even got one of those new-fangled katmogets.

Except spots....I like spots....I want to breed more interesting spots....I am still finding girls porducing spots I have never had before. So I'll go head over heels in the spot department and you can cloose what you like to breed. If you like to breed polled rams....that's great....just make sure we don't have lots of half polled ewes out there without knowing who they are....and teach those people who will only have an animal on their place that doesn't have horns....that polled rams can hit them too...and they had better not make a pet out of them.
Now I am going out and pet my ewes.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are we done yet?

Are you done lambing?

Were you happy with what you got?

Do you already have plans for next fall?

I don't know a breeder who isn't mentally making a breeding list as the lambs are arriving on the ground. It is part of the turnover of our plans and goals. I'll bet you have different goals now than you had last fall. Maybe you have new sheep that you are really excited about. You have an exciting ram lamb or you are buying some lamb that is the absolutely best and prettiest lamb you have even seen.

Having new sheep isn't the only part of our breeding goals. You need to look at what kind of lambs you produced this spring. How is the conformation....legs....tail....any horn growth? Fleeces. Wow fleeces are hard to deal with. We likely think most lambs feel really good. There is no sun weathering of mats or dirt....Sometimes I catch a lamb and I really want to linger there. The fleece is so feels like silk under my hand. Wow....who had THAT lamb.
This is why we need shetlands. We can tame them enough to feel their fleeces. We can make mental or written notes about what you like about the lamb produced from mom and dad....or what you don't like about the lamb produced. If it is a little new mom....there can always be some leg questions. Those little girls don't have much room for a lamb to grow. Maybe those legs will look better at a month old....maybe they won't. I had a lot of ewes born to yearlings this year. Usually they have rams....then you don't have to be so picky....most shetland rams are not meant to be bred.

Did I say that?

I'm sorry. What makes your plain black ram lamb worth breeding?...Don't you think plain black ram lambs are a dime a dozen?...Well some breeders think if they put a high enough price on their black ram lamb they can convince someone that he is the best ram lamb ever born. I don't think he is....YOU shouldn't think he is, and that breeder is using marketing techniques that may mislead. Have you seen the posts about cutting off lethal horn tips?????
Good gracious!!!! Why do breeders keep selling ram lambs with close horns? Don't be a sucker....sure you can always go back and get another one next year....but any ewes from that ram with close horns also have the genetics for close horns. Check the horns on your sires....check them again....if you can't see the sire on the lamb you are buying ask for photos from different angles to prove how close those horns are to the head. Remember as a ram grows older those horns get bigger in width. What isn't too close at 1 year could be too close at four. As if anyone these days keeps a ram that long.

What to do if some of your lambs are disappointing....well, check the ewe first....she will always have HER lamb. Some ewes like to have rams, some like to have ewes....if you are having lots of ram years it could be you are breeding the wrong ewes. If your ewe has a long or fuzzy HAVE to make sure the ram used will correct that. I don't care if you have a special gulmoget ram you want to use on everyone in the radius of a mile....correct your faults anyway.
I use several single coated rams. Sometimes they can add a wonderful crimp to a long stapled ewes lambs fleeces. For me it is a plus that these are also spotted rams. I also have old favorite ewes I don't breed. As ewes get to be 7 or 8 they lose a little in the lambing process. Some girls just don't want to be with their lambs all the time....some don't have enough milk for two....some have one lamb born weak...or you lose one. I know....your sheep are supposed to pay for them selves...several words come to mind on that one.
Most not printable.
Maybe you bought or raised the wrong ewe. Hey, we all buy sheep that later don't meet our goals.....Maybe your ewe is just tired and needs a year off. Maybe she just needs to retire and enjoy the spring eating for herself. You are responsible for her. If you were raised on a farm...maybe you can eat her. If you weren't maybe you can pass her on to someone else who isn't picky about their sheep....they just WANT some....and cheap enough that they won't look at your ethics later when they discover why you wanted to sell her.
Same thing comes to mind about rams. There are some faults in rams that require culling around here. Aggressiveness....what a long word for nasty habits, did i spell that right?...oh, who cares. If your ram isn't afraid of you....beware. If your ram hit you or someone else you need a new ram. If you caused the ram to be too aggressive by leaving him bored, or handling him too much or feeding him treats...shame on you. Rams are rams....polled rams are still rams. Ram lambs are still rams. If your ram isn't the most beautiful creature on the face of the need a new ram. That is half your genetics....why are you even considering breeding with that old scruffy ram. Do you keep you ram in the front of the house...or in the back so no one can see him....dang! Get a new one. There are plenty out there. need to judge your ram lambs the same way. There are qualities in ram lambs that make them worth keeping past the ninety-five cents a pound stage. Maybe there is one ram in your group that has a really nice fleece....make a mental note to repeat that breeding and let him sit long enough to see what his horns look like. If his horns aren't great...ship him. Yes, you could...and can breed him....but what you get will be more of the same....and you may be getting lots of ewe stock who won't be able to have lovely rams with horns. I have gone to a couple of shetland shows now....the trend is for the biggest ram to win....if you want to win ribbons....breed a bigger ram. If you want to take fifth or eighth...breed for smaller rams. Sorry I LIKE small shetlands. I am not getting any younger here....did you know a sheep can pull your tendons just by catching them?

HORRORS!!!! I WANT smaller sheep. I can't afford to be injured. I live out so far, my son actually offered to buy me a defibulator....NO....I just want my little nice shetlands that come around to talk to me....and only trip me when I have a full grain bucket.
Actually, faced with breeding with one of those tall winning shetland rams...I would take home a polled ram. Which may tell you why polled shetlands are gaining in favor. Well discussions about cutting lethal horns may tell you something too. Oh, that may be construed by some picky people as not-politically correct. Polled Shetlands are part of our breed description. So you can breed with them or not breed with them...your choice. My choice.
Out of four hundrd and some shetlands born I have had bad horns on a sold ram once. So it happens....but not often if you know what you are breeding.
On the subject of ram years and ewe years....look at your ram's statistics....I'm guessing you will breed him more than once....if one ram is having more rams than ewes...and you switched ewes with him too....Then, sorry, if you want more ewes born you need a different ram. Bother!
There are some breeders who stay small. One or two rams and their companions....and ten ewes or under. I salute you! Good for you. I'm sure there are some goals you can achieve in a few years. I just don't have that much patience...or working life left to cut back that far. I still have a few goals I would like to the line of spotting and maybe fleece....some day I may even sell fleeces....It could happen....well maybe.
Oh heck...I doubt it....

I do like to sell lambs....he heh....I do even have some for sale now.... A few are pictured on my new web page Someone actually tried to sell me my old web domain back...for 90 dollars....go get a job. Oh, that is their job. Well, I don't mind starting over.
Lambs for sale...get 'em while they're hot....well, maybe not. First you have to have a goal. Get a goal for your flock, if I can help get you a lamb that fits that goal.... I would be happy to work with you. If I don't have what you need I will NOT try to tell you you should buy mine anyway....but I will be really happy to help you find some other breeder who does have exactly the lamb you need.
I had a ewe to figure out why.

Monday, May 21, 2007

time to be done

Our last little yearling lambed this morning. She had a moorit smirslet ram lamb. I was kind of sad, because it is hard to sell a ram lamb born this late. I hate to see them just born and already contemplate their demise.
Well, that was a kind of depressed way to start a blog. I did take a prior to end-of-lambing break and went to Minnesota to visit with our children celebrating their first anniversary....YAAYYY
I got to visit with my brother and his wife....and even went to the historical library.
Books! What a lovely thing. I couldn't find the mircrofilm I needed to see....well they didn't find the book I wanted either....and wouldn't bring out 7 boxes for me....oh well. I'll maybe get back later this year. I have been working on this particular family line for 25 years...a few more won't make much difference.

I haven't figured out how many lambs born yet, maybe under 80 with about 6 more ewes than rams....fortunately for the rams.
If I started out on the wrong foot writing, I can be excused since I have lost a ram lamb....really....lost!
I can't find a body, I can't find anything. I took a walk outside the pastures this for snakes...HA!....I couldn't see where I was putting my feet half the time, climbing over trees and wonder I can't see a body. There is no baaing, mom is calmly feeding her other lamb....I figure she knows he is gone....but where? We were watching for dogs, coyotes, and buzzards because we had a house cat missing for two days....he came back. My ram lamb hasn't. I can barely find the bottle baby out there in the trees. I just would like to know what happened to him....well, mysteries of life. Sometimes we have a hard time firguring out who we are and what we are doing here....I suppose a missing lamb isn't the end of the world. Just sad.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

one picture....many words

Don't you just love new lambs. They are so funny. Moms just want to have them close white mom eats....but the lambs they are all over.
So this is the world?
Buffy got to come out with her lambs. Then she had to go back inside. The lambs were panting after just an hour in the sun. So Buffy has to wait for food.
There are a few other lambs that have arrived without fan-fare.

Two yearlings had singles. Peppermint is a plain brown, and she had a yuglet with just a splash of white on the back of a leg. Starshine is maybe a bleset. One big splash of white on her forhead. Starshine had a ewe names Lyra....she is a sokket and a smirslet that missed. Kind of like fitting a transparent photo over her face and moving it at the last minute. She is also black ear, one spotted one.
Sparkle had a single ewe with light greyish color. She seems to have a white head, and a spot in the middle of her nose.
Buffy had the twins. A ewe that has the mask form of two circles pulled together, and her twin is a yuglet or smirslet type. They are both black and white fleckets.

Friday, May 11, 2007

farmin' follies

Or OPPS the creek's up.........
Well, was I bragging about the lush pasture on the other side of our creek?
Never never do that.
The water was down to about 4 or 5 feet wide and just inches deep. That was this morning.
At noon a sudden thunderstorm came in. I was out in the barn feeding bottle baby, and started with my best SHEEEEE....EEEEP! Usually when it starts raining the moms will come in with their lambs. So I held my ground in the barn thru some of the rain, then made a mad dash for the house jumping with every thunder-boom.
Last I saw, the ewes had settled down in the barn with their lambs to wait out the heavy stuff. When I went out to check after most of the thunder had passed, some of the lambs were lounging in the barn while their hard eating moms had gone back to the garden of eden for lunch.
I walked down to the creek. The upper creek had water just starting to run. It went down the west side of the fencing and into the main creek bed. But it didn't seem bad. There was a gravel bar inbetween the two branches of creek which come together there. Why would they put a road thru the very spot where two creeks come together. Well, that is just where it is.
So I checked the time....two thirty....I wanted to leave the moms out on good pasture for a couple of hours. So I came back in. At three I began to hear a lot of baaing I ran out the door to see if there was a problem. There was. The creek had gone up to cover part of the gravel bed, and the water the girls had to jump thru was now over a foot deep. Well....lambs are good jumpers, but some are not much more than a foot high.
I grabbed the good old grain bucket full of grain and went to throw grain on the ground at the gates across the creek. SHHHHHHeeeeep!
Some of the girls came with their lambs. But they had never seen that much water before. They were afraid to cross it. Just imagine a crowd of lambs and ewes on each side of the creek all yelling at once. My husband came wearing his boots. Unfortunately, the lambs are a little afraid of him, and the creek was still going up. So, generous and thoughtful husband that he is....he gave me his boots right there on the creek bank. I lent him my clogs....which he couldn't walk in....he stood his ground on the rocks. He let wet sheep into the home pasture....while I ran out in the water waving my magic bucket of grain under the sheeps' noses....Most of the moms ran out in the water, if they had lambs near by....the lambs made it too.
But I got to the end of the large baaing mass on the wrong side of the creek, and it was about twenty lambs and two moms. The moms didn't want to go into the water for grain. They wanted it where they were dry. The lambs didn't want any.... thank you....they wanted their mommys....and NOW!!!! I caught a few lambs and carried them across to safety, but I have no catch pen on the other side of the creek. I'll need one.... So I resorted to canine action....I got behind the little wet buggers and chased them across, a half dozen at a time. Git, git..GO! yahoo....! Splashing and baaing, they seemed to get over. I emptied the rocks out of the boots, and checked the pond for floating wool. one fell in. I don't know why I think the lambs will fall into the pond....but I do.
Then I finally went back over the creek, and took off my husband's boots. One by one I emptied the water out where it had been over the tops of the boots, and gave them to my long-suffering mate. Who was really glad to see something to walk with....and really surprised at how wet they had gotten. Well, so much for running sheep fencing into wet weather creek beds. Guess I'll have to watch for downpours from now on.
I will admit it is never dull around here.
We laughed all the way to the house, saying we needed a full time photographer to record our antics. Don't you just love sheep?

garden of eden

Don't you just love blogs? Where you can write about anything you please.

We have found another garden of eden....right across the creek. Now you understand the water in the creek is only a few inches deep today. We live on a creek called "sinkin'" because the water sinks. In Missouri we have lots and lots of rocks. It seems the water may be still running, but under the creek bed.

So the sheep, even the smallest lambs, can jump thru the water in the creek and go out to the garden of eden. Did you know that there was a book written about finding the garden of eden in Trempealeau county Wisconsin? Yup, I have even read it. That, because my ancestors lived in Trempealeau county for a while....well, mostly, some of them settled Trampealeau county. Well, some of them were there before that, but that's another story.

I digress.
However you spell that. I bought an old school dictionary at a garage sale last weekend. I really miss my unabridged dictionary....also bought at a garage sale....but I wasn't supposed to bring anything heavy down to Missouri. I suppose that included my collection of City Directories from Minneapolis in the 30's and 40's....they are about as big as an unabriged dictionary....well I brought them anyway.

Back to the garden of eden. I am including a photo from yesterday. If I told you I would send photos, and I am slow to get them, you will understand. I go out to photograph sheep, and I can hear them, but I can't see them,

Last night we had a thunderstorm come in just before feeding time. We feed a sweet grain mix to the sheep before it gets dark. It makes them all want to come in by the barn, and then we can close them into pastures close by for the night. Well, as I started to fill my bucket with grain....I could see cloud to ground lightening coming straight down at the end of the valley. So I hurried, but I still sent my wonderful, helper husband across the creek to make sure no one was lost. I knew the rain would be falling soon. I was out in the pasture by the barn when it hit.
This is the fist time I heard the lightening before the flash. There was a click or a snap.....then there was a deafening boom. Everyone ran....the stragglers ran, the cats ran...I husband ran. Boy, I am guessing that was the lightening grounding on the metal fence. I'm glad I wasn't holding the fence....The little lost lamb that my husband found out in the meadow almost went through the fence trying to get back in one big hurry.
Well, we made it thru that shower...a half inch in about 10 minutes.
I'll move a little quicker the next time I see cg' my storm chasing children call them. By the way, this is a full grown ewe and one or both of her lambs, taking a little rest in the grass.
We had two ewes lamb safely yesterday. One single, and twin yuglets....I'm glad I found them already on the ground.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

That's farmin'

I know I need to write about it....even if all it does is make someone else feel better about their efforts.
I don't feel better about mine, but I tried.
We lost a pregnant ewe yesterday. She was two, had not been exposed the first year.....and she was carrying twins.
I found her in the morning, she had passes the first water bag. I found the wet spot. I didn't know how long she had been in I made note of the time. I checked her for two hours, and no, there wasn't any real was her first pregnancy. I gave her some more time. But, I knew it didn't look good.
I had my helper, husband, change back into work clothes, trimmed my nails, and got sudsy water for lubrication.
OK....I'll admit....the first thing that I said when I entered her was...."she isn't getting lambs out this way."
Here is where it hurts to be rural. On good days our vet is 45 minutes away.....on alternate days he is in the next county. That wasn't an option....this was an alternate day.
So I finally pushed the breech tailed body out of the opening in the pelvic bone. I reached in as far as I could....but there was no head. I tried for the hind legs somewhere near the tail....they were pinned between that twin and the next twin. I flexed legs....seemed like the next twin had front legs forward....I pulled those....but no head was available. With my arm jammed in as far as I could reach, I tried flipping the bodies and pulling at the rear legs. Nothing that I could do with one hand seemed to pull a head withing reach. Well, I already knew the opening was way too tight to get the rest of my arm in. I could tell that there was no life in the lambs' bodies. I tried to think of what to do....the legs on the second lamb indicated it's head was maybe too big to fit in the opening....even if I could find it. The lambs must have tangled during one hand wasn't going to untangle them. This is where helper husbands get the raw end. "Go get the gun"....he let go of his end of the ewe and went inside. Twilight left this world with her lambs, Dusk and Dawn....sorry Twilight. It was one of those bad positions, an accident of the birthing process. A bad joke by nature, which gave you a too small pelvic bone. I was right when I first weren't going to have lambs that way.
My hand bruised and swelled in an arm either had the circulation cut off....or nerve damage. Today, except for being black and blue....and sad that I couldn't help....I'm better.
That is farming. We have our successes, we have our failures. Some we can learn from....some just happen. At least I was there and could understand why it happened, and why I had to lose her. I still have 5 ewes who are one seems to be in a hurry to have a lamb....and for that I am grateful.
The moms and their lambs have jumped thru the water in the creek and gone out into the garden of looks that lush....small trees all over for the leaves....grass and clover so tall the lambs disappear. Some things about farming are nice.

Friday, May 04, 2007


When is a little rain a lot of water?

When you live in a valley, I guess. These were taken yesterday, before the latest round of inches. The girls are really unhappy....the grass is running water....the pastures are running water....the lambs are all wet. They were supposed to be across the creek yeaterday....right now, I couldn't even expect the lambs to jump through the water coming out of the dam.

My new posts I dug into the creek bed seem to be still there....fortunately the fencing hadn't happened yet...or they would be down....some of them are leaning. Yesterday morning I was out in the creek with boots and a shovel making piles of gravel and creating wing dams around my posts. Those wre covered up before afternoon....and over night we had more rain. It finally has started to drop a few inches....I guess I can wait until Monday to buy the fence....I won't be in that water for a couple of days. Well, at least the ewes and lambs weren't across the creek when the water went up.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

dark brown


OK, I know I have always said that dark brown was a Shetland myth. I bought sheep after sheep and never found they were dark brown.
I found lots of what we like to call "shetland black" and some dark moorits.
But this spring I can actually say, I HAVE a dark brown.
I have to say I owe this grand achievement to Sandy Truckner, and her flock of shetlands in Pennsylvania.
Sandy had developed several sheep which she believed to be dark brown. I bought one of her ewe lambs, we both thought would continue this trend. However, both Stephen , who was kind enough to pick this lamb up.....and I felt the lamb was again a "shetland black".
For those of you, who have never heard the term. It describes a black sheep who develops a dark brown colored fleece. Sometimes this appears to stem from a recessive for brown....sometimes it appears to be from sun-bleaching. I believe after having several of these, that it is actually a genetic thing. The dark brown fleece goes all the way to the skin, and the fleece is not black when sheared off.
I read Dr Phil's article he did for the NASSA news a couple of years ago....and he mentioned that a dark brown should be bred to a black. So I dutifully bred Sandy's modified ewe to my black ram. I haven't studied the genetics yet....but I can guarantee that the ewe was shetland least BBBb.....the ram I knew to be BBBb, and the resulting twins were both black at birth. Just like the other modified colors....this ewe lamb appeared to be an off-black....but more brownish that black. I didn't think about her much, since I didn't breed her the first year.
Now minwawe Music has had what appears to be a black lamb....and the color was so dramatically different, that I began to photograph them. Genetically.....Music is likely BBBb, and carrys at least one MMMm? I haven't noticed the ram that sired Music having a modifier. This is her first lamb.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

flecket vs sponget

Imagine that?

I have been breeding fleckets for years....and now I read the definition and it says they are white....go read it. Ha....someone never knew how fleckets came about. Any spotted sheep has to have some color....or else we wouldn't see any spots.
So am I wrong or is the definition wrong? Could be we are both wrong.

I have frequesntly argued that to me a flecket is a white looking sheep with spots. I didn't realize then that that really was the definition. So what about the dark sheep with spots???
Thinking about it.....I usually don't have dark sheep with big over-all spots. So maybe dark sheep have smaller spots. When I have dark bodies with a lot of white showing....I do call them flecket. But it is these smaller spots that have me wondering.
I have two this year ...two that are black and white....I have several others that are going to be grey.
Based on the definitions I have just been reading these small black spots may actually be sponget. I have a ewe who was registered sponget before I got her. She is dark with spots that look like they were applied with white paint from a maybe that's really it. I'll take her photo and show you sometime.
By the way....I have moved in the last three now I have a web page that reflects that move. Check it out.