Tuesday, September 18, 2007

good buys

Wow, isn't it interesting how life pushes you in one direction or another?
Now when I started blogging this morning, I was thinking about my friend Stephen, who had saved a few sheep for someone who backed out of the deal. I had that happen this year too....but I only got stuck with three lambs I had planned to sell. Stephen needs to sell five, now.
My other thought was about my friend, Karen, who is trying to recover from a badly broken arm....and needs to sell off some sheep because frankly...who can handle sheep with one arm in a sling? You can find Stephen's newly released sheep for sale on his blog or web page. He posted a cool list on shetland sheep for sale, too. Because Karen may not be as widely known....I'll post her links. She has some beautiful sheep with great conformation and unusual colors. Maybe if you are really lucky she will sell a spottie too. http://karensshetlands.blogspot.com/ and her web page http://www/.twinbrookfarms.net
Both breeders have fantastic sheep , and prices, and good genetics.
Now, since this morning, I have also decided not to be a sheep hoarder anymore. If you know me, you know I have always had sheep that were mine! They were not for sale to anyone...at any price. I NEEDED them. I kept certain lines of sheep...I kept certain spotted sheep....I always have had my own "special stock" of shetlands. I can tell you the good traits of these sheep and the bad ones....oh yes! My sheep have faults....They are just like most people.
Have you ever laughed about some breeders always selling the best sheep with all the best traits? I'm not into blatant bragging. I love my sheep. They may not be perfect....but I love them anyway. If you are looking for some nice spotted genetics and some nice fleeces....you might like my sheep too. All my ewes are presently for sale....lambs, yearlings...two, three, four and five year olds. Anyone over five deserves a permanant home...so I am keeping them....I am also not selling anyone who can't breed easily. I'm keeping the culls....go figure. I'm keeping everyone who doesn't sell....they may be hungry this winter, but they have a home, and a shepherd who loves them.
I will make up prices based on quantity. If I own them, and they are under five....they are for sale. I'm not going out of business....I will be exposing some of these ewes....and I will sell them exposed....but it's been a rough summer. My sheep are hungry. I have let them all out in the south meadow today. It's the only food that is available and still fenced in. I'm hoping that that big kitty cat is gone for right now....At least we haven't had a kill for over two weeks. How can I expose my ewes and lambs to danger? They really wanted to graze today. Got to run and check on my flock. All you wild cats go away!!!!!

selling out vs selling down

Here is an interesting topic.
We have had several people over the years who needed to sell down their flocks because their circumstances changed. Some people have had similar sales several years in a row. Have you ever bought sheep from a shetland sale like that? I have. Some breeder sales used to raise my eyebrows. Was it really a sales ploy? Just meant to sell off the sheep they no longer wanted? Was it legitimate for a person to beg for people to come buy their sheep before they were butchered....and then breed more lambs the following year?
I have decided it is legitimate.
Shetland breeders are suckered into breeding by the incredible beauty and personality of their sheep. How can I refuse a wagging tailed wide-eyed ewe, shuffling her butt outside a ram's breeding pen? I'm not sure there is a shetland breeder out there who doesn't have more sheep than they really want or can care for. I sure have too many.
No, I take that back....there are those breeders who think of their shetlands like livestock. Maybe they were raised on a farm. Maybe they have had circumstances toughen them up. Sorry, folks....my sheep are shetlands, they have personalities....I walk out in the morning and pet them and kiss them on the nose. I am not tempted to eat my babies. I am able to ship my extra ram lambs to the sales barn. If I can find one that wants them. Within driving distance.
What are dire circumstances? Why would a breeder have to sell....sell even the sheep they wanted to keep?
Life changes, health changes, farm land changes, drought especially, comes to mind. There have been several breeders affected by drought this year. Is that a reason to sell down your flock? You bet it is! Take my area for example....we had some rain a week ago ( after two month of dry)...but now there is no more rain in the forecast...and the grass that sprouted a week ago is dead again. I know when my ewes are hungry. They run back and forth....at a good clip too! Baaing. Trying to find some good grazing, the ewes run from one end of the pastures to the other several times a day. I have to figure all this running is causing some weight loss too.
Today, I am going to have to take their lives in my hands. I have to let them out in the south meadow, where the cat has killed five rams this year. I don't have a choice. There is no hay in this county. Cattle breeders have been selling down all year. Not enough grazing for cows, on this bad grassland. Not enough grazing for my flock of ewes either. But just like those other breeders out there....don't expect this breeder to sell down and stop breeding. It's not possible. This is a shetland addiction. It's not my fault we have drought. It's not the other breeders' fault they have changes in their lives that keep them from taking care of so many sheep.
I'll be breeding some of my girls soon. Yes, breeding....They are nice girls...they might be yearlings....and need to breed to make sure they can be moms at all....they may have had their lambs grabbed by me early on in the spring....before they even thought of weaning them. I promised them they could have lambs again. If the cat doesn't eat them this fall, they can go out in the unfenced hay ground and the high woods this winter, and eat whatever they can find. Maybe we will get rain later this year. It's possible.
I have started to sell off the spotted ewe lambs I kept out for myself this spring. There were four spotties, three in black and white....one in brown and white. Bet you can't guess which one went first. I also kept a set of AgAa spotted twin ewes. I will sell the twins together.
If you have hay and pasture in the south....let me know. They are all for sale. I may even be selling off my special flock ewes. Some exposed. I'm not cured.....just trying to the best I can for the girls that depend on me.
So if you see a sales list by someone who need to sell off some of their sheep. You can be sure they likely would want to keep them all....if they could. They may try to keep a few just so they don't feel so bad when the rest leave. Do you shed a tear when your sheep go down the road to a new farm? I do. If you have the room....this may be your lucky day. If you don't have room...don't critisize the breeders holding the sale. They may have no choice. Those sheep need a good home somewhere. They are nice girls....and sometimes, even nice boys. I am declaring it "Buy a Shetland" week. Let's try to find homes for those sheep!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

about time

Wow, sorry it is taking me so long to get back with the program.
I had a good time at Jefferson.....saw lots of old friends....saw some great sheep....won a few ribbons...2nd's and 3rd's....but can't remember what for.
Our son got home today from his trip to Russia....glad to have him back and on his way to Portland. Our son-in-law should get back from his tour to New York with his band, Little Man, this week too....another one to be glad about.
I do want to thank all the wonderful people who came to Jefferson, to watch and expecially the ones who gave up some of their free time to both show and to help. Boy! It is nice to have a few people who are willing to help make this a good show for all the midwest shetland breeders.
Congratulations to Caitlin....and her blue ribbon ram lamb....she is one of the 4-H clients who are really growing up into the shetland scene. The ram was even somehow related to my lines....but bigger.
I got the local paper today in the mail....you know how Kieth Oberman always starts out with his.....which one of these news stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
I have to share this one. Front page is a photo of our local police standing with some tall weeds....Yes, those kind. The story tells about a raid that netted the good guys lots and lots of weeds...and guns...and pigeons. That's what I said....pigeons. It seems the bad guys had lots of pigeons...and as the police were taking stock of the scene....in flew a pigeon, a homing type pigeon with money tied to it's leg. You bet'cha.....they were selling weed by pigeon! Talk about good old Missouri know-how.....it's those pigeons! Really! They were the one growing crops and selling them. Yup, just sit on the porch in those rocking chairs....let those old pigeons do the work.
Kind of makes ya think doesn't it?