Archive for the ‘2009 breeding’ Category

SHEEP FOR SALE and a Monday dose of llama fun.

I haven’t posted in a month or so.  Our son, his wife and two grandchildren (both under 2 1/2 years old) are living with us temporarily while my son is on vacation and between duty stations.  He is a Sargent in the Marine Corp.  We are fortunate to be able to spend this time with our grandbabies as we had previously not been able to spend more than a few days with them at a time.  So we have been busy with family events and activities like the Renaissance Festival.  And I am getting in my share of watching (bonding) with grandchildren!

Needless to say, I have had little time for blog entries, taking and editing pictures and writing sales information.  I really don’t care for this part of being a Shepherd.  I want to breed and raise sheep with a fine, soft, crimpy fleece that is a joy to spin.  I want to spin and dye that fleece.  I breed sheep to get the quality of wool I want.  I do enjoy putting together breeding groups toward the purpose of achieving the quality of wool I want to work with.   The FOR SALE sheet is a result of the pairings.  We end up with too many sheep to sustainably keep.  The boys that aren’t breeding quality will be sold for fiber pets or grass-fed, hormone free lamb.  I have been asked, “How I can eat or sell to be eaten, sheep that I have raised?”  I answer with a question of my own.  “What is better than eating a creature who has enjoyed a very good life on our own farm?  I know what has gone into that animal. No hormones, no antibiotics (unless necessary), very little (if any) stress, open sky, shelter, fresh water, friendly shepherds, green grass, leaves and clover… .”  If that doesn’t at least give the questioner a reason to ponder, I reply that “I do not want to become the crazy sheep hoarder on the six-o’clock news!”

At some point (and it may be the upcoming breeding season) the breeding groups will become smaller.  I have only had two seasons of breeding, but I am already beginning to narrow my focus.  And this is the first year we got a number of lovely ewes!  Last year was a ram year, this year was 50/50.  But each ewe is fabulous so I couldn’t be more pleased.  I will post ewe lamb photos in an upcoming post.  For today, please check out the Sales Page.  (We don’t have any bad rams either!)

As a result of being a fairly new Shepherd with a full-time job…I haven’t had any time to play with my fleece.  What!   Egads!  How pitiful!  Yup.  You fibergals with sheep know exactly what I am talking about.  We dream of the day we can get our own flock…and then when we do…we have no time to do exactly what we love!  This spring and summer have been a time of introspection on what I want to accomplish with my flock as well as the artistic side of myself.  DH and I are also discussing the direction and focus of our farm.  I guess all I can say is I am, and the farm and flock are, a work-in-progress.

I listed more sheep for sale than I anticipate selling.  There are several that I DO NOT WANT to sell.  They will have to be torn out of my hands.  But….sigh……I can’t keep them all.  I will most likely incorporate any unsold lighter colored sheep back into the flock.  I DO know I like the majority of my sheep to be white or musket.  Modified and moorit are nice also.  I am happy I got a gray ewe lamb this year as I have no gray.  Actually, the whole process of poring over photos, writing a “sales promo” on each sheep and ruminating (sorry, I couldn’t help it…) on what my goals are for farm and flock has been a good exercise.  I came to realize that I am proud of what I have accomplished in the few short years we have had our flock.  As frustrated and exhausted as I am at times, I have made some decent choices.  And I have learned from my mistakes.  I am happy to say that today, I have a Sales Sheet that makes me proud!

I leave you with a few fun photos of our llamas.

Rudy relaxing on a hot day

Rudy relaxing on a hot day

Llamas taking their afternoon siesta

Llamas love dust baths and their afternoon siesta. The llama rolling in the dust (on the left) is four month old cria Primo (not for sale.)

Just call me Madame Shepherdess

We have no signs of a cria from Nessa yet. Time will tell. We are on Day 15 of Llama Watch, Round 1. This is so different than watching and waiting for ewes to drop their lambs.

We have one week before the first lambs are due; our barnyard is stuffed with groaning, waddling ewes. Well, I imagine they are groaning…they certainly are waddling! It brings to mind a “home for unwed mothers,” as they used to say. The girls seem to be a bit testy with each other; there has been a bit more head butting between the ewes. As I wait for lambs, I invent stories about the ewes… Perhaps head butting is their way of taking out their frustration and jealousy over “their ram.” It’s barnyard trash-talk… . I put together three breeding groups, with expected lambs from the end of April through the end of May. Since I put the groups together, doesn’t that make me the Madame? The Sheep Madame. Yes, every breeding season, you may call me Madame Shepherdess.

The first breeding group was put with Bluefaced Leicester ram Beechtree Dougal. We purchased him from Becky Utecht last November. He has a lustrous, purly fleece which is just luscious!! My goal with Dougal is to add his fleece qualities to our flock as well as more size for market lambs. He was put over four Shetland and two North Country Cheviot ewes. By putting a BFL over these girls we will get first generation crosses which are commonly done in the United Kingdom. The crossbred Mules, as they are called, can then be put to a terminal sire ram for a larger market lamb. I’m not sure that we will add the terminal sire to the mix next year. I want to see how we do with lamb size this fall. We will hopefully get at least a few Mule ewes to retain, and the rams which aren’t whethered for fiber pets will be a nicer size market lamb. All these ewes appear to be pregnant; right now it looks like one of the Cheviot ewes and Roundaboutacres Bunny will be the first to lamb.

Beechtree Dougal

Little Red Oak Lyra (iset) and Roundaboutacres Bunny (black krunet.) To the right is Little Red Oak Bella (moorit HST – two rear socks)

Our two NC Cheviot ewes, #7 and #23. Bella is in the back. I really like the Cheviots ewes. They are larger but calm and mellow with the other ewes. I still haven’t named them! I want a theme for the NC Cheviots – constellations, flowers, jewels, etc. Any suggestions??

Little Red Oak Lily (moorit) in front and one of the Cheviot ewes in the back. In this picture Lily is about 18 months old and the Cheviot is about six months. The Cheviots are definitely larger and blockier than the Shetlands. And their fleece is dense, dense, dense!

In the next post I will have pictures of the other two breeding groups. In the meantime, I am looking forward to more barnyard trash-talk!
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