Saturday, June 07, 2008

talking about spots

While I am waiting for the last ewe to lamb, lets talk about spotting in Shetlands.
First, spotting....all those pretty pictures on the shetland marking a recessive.
What is a recessive?
There are dominant genetic traits....and ones that come along for the ride. You don't see these other genetic traits unless you lose the dominant.
White is a good one. White is dominant to all other colors and patterns. If a lamb inherits one genetic gene for white from one parent....and one gene for black from the always have a white lamb. That white lamb does have one solid black gene....and could with the right partner....produce a black lamb.

Grey or musket....Ag.....this is a pattern. If you get one gene from a parent for Ag and one gene for solid from the other have a grey or musket lamb.
This theory also works for other patterns like katmoget or gulmoget. What if you breed a gulmoget or grey sheep to a solid one and the lamb comes out plain black? That means it does not have the gulmoget gene or the grey gene. It never will be able to pass on either of those genes to a lamb.
Hopefully, you already know the color brown is also a recessive.
So what about spots? Spots, being a recessive....only show up when there are two genes passed along. Oh Oh.....but what about those krunets???? Aren't they spots?
Consider a krunet as a sign that there is one recessive gene in that lamb. You could have generations of krunets before you get one body spotted lamb from them. If you have a dull flock of shetlands and want to spice it up.....don't go out and buy two krunet sheep and think you will get a spotted lamb.....unless you already have hit-the-jackpot somewhere else. have to be really lucky for that to work.
Spotted lambs are all over these days. They have all kind of prices too. There is nothing that makes an expensive spotted lamb better than a cheap one in the world of spots. Take your shetland eye with you when buying spotted lambs. Don't buy inbred sheep or glaring faults.....if you don't show shetlands....and you don't know what a glaring fault is.....go ahead. A lamb is a lamb.
What I have posted is a photo of Texas-two-step. He is young, so we can excuse him for his lack of pose. Texas, was a surprise. His dam had been waddling around for I knew she was expecting, but she had never had so much as a krunet before. Dancer, was born in '03....a plain black twin to a yuglet bronget or bielset sokket sister. She has had twins....some brown....and one even tho plain....jitterbug, has produced spots. but nothing showed, up to this, her last year of lambing... nothing showed any spots.

The top two photos are of Dancers twins, Cha cha with her daughter, Duet, a yuglet bielset or bronget sokket....and waltz, with her twins, one another yuglet bielset sokket, Tango.....and her son, a big white spot ram.
What is a big white spot? Just that, we know this ram lamb, Foxtrot, carries black. He just appears to be white. He has less eye spotting, very little in the way of black spots on his body, and black ears.
Now look at Cha cha and Waltz.....would you ever suspect that they could have lambs like that?
Better yet, look at their plain old mom, Dancer....poor girl has always taken a back seat to her sister, Prancer. So, it took five years for old Dancer to hit the heights in spots....well done!
Sure surprised me, old girl.

I consider Texas-two-step to be the zenith of body spotting. This over all 50% white 50 % black is very pretty, and doesn't always happen. There may be another name for this....but no one from the other side of the pond has shown us a photo to tell us if there is. In fact, spots are pretty rare over there, since they breed for commercial wool use.
I breed for fun...and you should see Texas-two-step and his twin, Virginia Reel hopping around out in the pasture in their own lamb races. They make me laugh every time.
I would not expect to breed two yuglet/sokkets together and get a Texas-two-step. Although I can get a yuglet sokket from a flecket....and a flecket from a yuglet sokket. There are fleckets and then there are Texas-two-steps.

End of lesson.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I hope you shepherds are all enjoying summer.

We have had hunters here twice....and yesterday, we did get our sheep out for an hour with nothing more than a noise in the woods. I used my new shepherds crook...a christmas gift from Nancy and Bill Barnett....two good shepherds here in Missouri. By the way, Nancy has some nice sheep for sale too. I can give her your email....if you want to find out about them.

I hope to deliver the sold lambs at least soon. I don't wean baby I am not sure how to deal with the few that will be still here.

We did have twins a few days ago and a ewe lamb was born this morning. I have one older ewe who has spent two days in the barn...just waiting. One other is out in the pasture. There are two suspicious ewes laying in the woods. But both are fruit-cakes...and I wouldn't know if they were pg unless they had a lamb.
In spite of our losses we do still have some lambs here. Some of our boys are starting to look pretty good.
This is a bad photo of Texas two step and Virginia reel. Our newest twins. At least I hope that's how you spell reel? Anyone?
At the top is the lovely flower garden started here because Angela Rountree was kind enough to bring me flowers from her the foreground is the rose bush just starting to bloom. Except for a few tulip bulbs...I hadn't had a flower garden since we lived in the city. I do love to look at flowers. There are lavender plants in the background....all from Angela too.
In case you were wondering how the primary was going, I am a bitter older almost white woman clinging to her guns, here in the heartland. Don't ask. What's McCain's webpage called?

Monday, June 02, 2008

sheep grazing peacefully

Do you have time to go out in the morning, and watch your sheep grazing? You should.
The morning air is gentle, the dew is one the grass, fog may be rising out farther in the fields.
The sheep hang around in groups. Moms may have their own lambs and a few extras. Some lambs find a dry place out in the middle and lay there together patiently waiting for mom to call.
This morning I tied on my gun, and walked out with the sheep. I was mentally counting lambs....twins over there....where is that mom? The sheep sensing my presence, walked to the fence by the hay ground. A bad place since we have lost so many this week. My husband came out after a while....he had his rifle, and we stood and watched the fields quietly.
I'm always full of "good" ideas. Since we are together...let's let them eat out there for an hour.
It was cool and cloudy, just the time the girls can eat well, so they can rest in the shade later in the day.
My husband took the hill, where he could see everyone well. I walked by the woods, trying to keep the ewes and lambs far from the edge of the pasture. The tall grass was wet with dew, my jeans were wet above my knees. I walked with groups of moms and lambs. As I walked I made up songs about what I was going to do to the hungry kitty. I wandered the edge of the woods, yelling my songs and clapping. Listening to the sheep eating, I figure making people noise will keep the things that belong in the woods, in the woods.
The two great pyrs walked with me. Sometimes they ran smelling things in the grass. The older pyr was laying between the sheep and the edge of the if she knew that was a good spot. The younger pyr would sit and watch the sheep, then run out with them.....then the two dogs would go into the woods for a while. I wasn't really paying attention to where they went in and out of the woods. They scared up a vulture sitting in a tree. After 55 minutes of our quiet hour.....the young pyr ran out of the woods bounding towards me. At the same time, the older dog, still in the woods was growling and barking. She had something.
I startled better than the sheep did. I called to my husband, to call the sheep out of the pasture.
He had heard the dog, and was yelling SHHHHEEEEEP! He was yelling... sheeeeep! and I was running at the tailing flock of sheep clapping and yelling..... go go GO! As some of the sheep near the gate slowed down to eat again, I fired a warning shot. The big dog had also fallen silent. We hurried back out towards the edge of the woods. The young dog and I went into the woods to see if we could hear anything, or see the other silent dog. I was calling for her. My husband reminded me that the dog when chasing something runs silent. She must be a scarey sight running big and white thru the woods at night.
So, I was quiet for a while, and I finally heard crackling in the woods, I watched and finally our big white dog came slowly walking towards me, her long tongue showing she had been running. All she wanted to do was lay down in the damp sand by the creek now.
As we all walked quietly towards the barn pastures, I was reminded of the pastoral feeding sheep. Now they were all at the barn loudly calling for food. So much for a quiet morning in the woods.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

How are things going?

Right now....not well.
We lost 5 lambs this week, and I am concerned. I don't like to have my sheep eaten. I listened to mom calling for her baby boy all night. Now, baby boys may seem insignificant to us shepherds. Just so many un-salable boys to get rid-of in the fall. But to their moma sheep, they are precious.
We have penned them, cleaned their yellow butts, kept them in the right places with their moms, and in some cases, we even sell some of them.
I am in favor of life. I have to be in a special mood to cut down a tree....pull a weed....bring a flower inside. I am not happy with kitties right now. Given a clear shot, I could shoot at them.
But kitty stays just out of sight....conservation has promised to take action this week. I HATE leg hold traps. Our Hex, second oldest cat here, was trapped by a leg-hold, and let a very caring farmer. He lost a little foot, and a couple of his nine lives....but is a constant companion.
I know what could happen....we have to keep all nine cats inside....we have to chain up our outside dogs.....the kitty will likely get away, along with the kittens that have been feeding on my lambs.
We are waiting for two more ewes to lamb. If they are live lambs, I will worry about how long they will be able to live here. You know, the floods did change my mind about breeding sheep for lambs.....the kitty has reinforced my plans to sell or give away as many ewes and lambs as possible. At least the ones who could enjoy lambing another year, live safely with their lambs at least until they are three month old....and graze without being under water, or eaten by a wild animal.
I want to keep some ewes who are older and are my friends.....I could even see breeding one or two some year.....just to have bouncing lambs around. Maybe not....but I could "see it". One of my dreams last night was about a song called "guilt"....when I awoke, I laughed at myself. How typical, to intertwine our thoughts from the day into our dreams.