Monday, April 28, 2008

bopeep's sheep

Lamb Number 539 and lamb number 540. I bought my first sheep, three shetland ewe 1999. Think about that. I have been breeding for less than 10 years. How do I believe that I know ANYTHING about the shetland breed? I have friends, who have bred shetlands for almost twice as long. My last twins born a few days ago were numbers 539 and 540. OK, I may not have been breeding for more than ten years, but I have bred a few lambs. If a breeder had 20 lambs every year for 20 years. They would have bred 400 lambs. I just did mine in less time. I have seen some interesting things in my lambing seasons. Not everything....but a few. I have seen some health problems....not all....but a few. I have seen some spots.....not all...but a few.
Now that I am looking back at lambings and not forward, what do I regret?
I regret that I have only come close to a natural bielset. That was my original goal in breeding spotted sheep. I failed. I believe there is one flock across the pond that has natural bielsets. I doubt that there is another shetland breeder out there in the world, with any interest in just a bielset. Breeders seem to want to only breed spots that they have already seen...or bought.
How sad.
There is a big poster showing possible shetland spots. That poster inspired me the day I put a deposit on my first sheep. Who is breeding for the spotting on that poster? Why do you all claim to be content with only one type of spot? Why should all shetland breeder follow the bidding of a few?
Where is your sense of adventure?
How many yuglet sokkets with a white tip on their tail can people want to see in their field? Whatever you call them, they all look the same after a while. Do you, a breeder, sell all your raw fleeces to one spinner? Why, if you don't..... do you let one spinner dictate what you raise? Do you only raise musket sheep because musket sells well. NO! You would be bored with all musket sheep....however many varieties of musket you could try to see. So why aren't you bored with only one politically correct type of spot?
Now, I am not talking about certain breeders....I am not naming anyone else....I am able to state my view of the state of shetland spotting without defaming anyone.
I DO want to compliment certain other breeders, however. My old friend Stephen Rouse, has reinvented the shetland spot by crossing patterns with spots. This type of spotting has influenced the spotting world in an exciting way. Who knows what will come out at the birth of these sheep. How fun! Spotted Gulmogets have energized the flecket births. Thanks Stephen.
Sandy Truckner has a wonderful invention....a line of Caped Fleckets. She has developed these spots all by herself...and everyone interested in developing spotted shetlands should be trying to acquire one. Nancy Larsen almost had a natural bielset, she has a lovely line of fleckets. Nancy sold me sheep, who finally produced spots for me. Grab one of her sheep if you can, she knows wool and has sold her own wool for many years. I've even bought and spun her value-added wool....and I haven't had time to spin much. I also want to thank Nancy K. and her own special bluff country shetlands....Her lovely photos of her spotted sheep and her incredible marketing abilities have caused her spotties to go all over this country and Canada. Good for you, Nancy. You know what you like and you can sell it too!

Now let's talk about the breeder who has gotten this far in my rantings.
How many shetland lambs did you birth this year? How many do you want to sell? How, are you going to sell them? Do you have a plan? Did you have a plan when you bred those lambs? Can you make a plan to sell what you already have? Try!
The world is expensive to live in....the livestock industry is going to get more expensive. You HAVE to be able to compete! Otherwise, you will have to cut back to a few old friends like I am doing.....and how sad that would be!!!!

If you are trying to breed some exciting spots....I would love to contribute to your ideas. Write me. I have a little experience in crossing lines to get different spots. Maybe I can help you achieve something different and wonderful! You have got to specialize to get anywhere in livestock these days. Think about your ideal sheep....and try for it. If you think it is ideal, you can convince someone else it is ideal and they will buy it too.
All these little sheepies need a home. They all need a little love, just like us.


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Cynthia and Christopher said...

Very, very nicely said Mary Ellen. I hope more Shetland folks are able to so strongly state their "goals" as they breed.

You have certainly done your share to very positively influence the breed in this country. My granddaughter so loves your photos and, since HER goal is spotting and gulmoget, she is highly encouraged to ask your counsel at every turn!

Congrats on the successful end of your lambing season.


At 11:31 AM, Blogger Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

Nice nice post Peeps. I enjoyed it!

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Garrett808 said...


The little lamb in the first photo looks JUST like the two smirslet girls that are out of Barish!! That marking must have come from you, huh? :) What other surprises am I expecting?!!

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Rayna said...

Absolutely darling babies, and a well written message, Peeps. I need to learn how to make a purple spotted sheep, because that way my boyfriend will be interested *rolls eyes* lol. But seriously, I'm sure you and I will continue to talk, especially after getting your girls, I will want to know who to cross to get somethings like that second photo, and others! :)

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Karen B. said...

Interesting, Mary Ellen. You have certainly had lots of lambs over the years. I personally don't have a formal breeding plan and I think that's okay. I cull pretty heavily for poor conformation, bad fleece, etc. But beyond that, I just hope for nice lambs and try to use nice breeding stock. That's enough for me. Does hoping for spots constitute a plan?


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