Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hail and Farewell

The next couple of months will see a lot of changes in the EverRanch flock. Before winter, we need to reduce by ... well, many sheep. The Scottie flock is going to Cheney until we get moved to our 20 acres on Whidbey Island. They will help get another flock of Scotties started there while they are on loan. A group of Shetlands and one of the Gotland-Finns is going to BC, one of Luna's handsome ram lambs is going to Chilliwack, BC and Rool will be going to Alberta, Canada. Fun with exporting is a subject for another day. Many ram lambs will go to grace the tables of Puget Sounders, including our own :-)

Yesterday, we completed a trade of Finnsheep. Eino and Spot got gussied up for traveling and went to Leanne Hughes' Triple L Finnsheep flock in West Richland (in Eastern Washington). We originally bought Spot from Leanne, and when Spot didn't settle, Leanne offered to trade her for another ewe. Leanne was interested in Eino to enhance her brown line of Finnsheep, and agreed to trade him for another ewe.

Last year we decided to use Finnsheep as our major foundation for the Gotland flock. Not only are Finnsheep very prolific, they seem to be the breed most closely resembling Gotlands in North America. Earlier this year, the Gotland Association decided to limit registration to grey animals only. It turns out that using white sheep to breed up is one of the only ways to assure a homozygous Gotland grey line. (Other distinct patterns - katmoget, gulmoget, English blue - can also be used to "filter" the grey color.)

So last year, when the Association was contemplating allowing any solid colors, we chose to use colored Finnsheep. This year with only grey in our Gotland future, we are focusing more on white foundation animals. To that end, we arranged with Leanne to trade two proven, white ewes for Eino and Spot. Yesterday was trading day.

We left Auburn under cloudy skies at 7-ish and arrived in West Richland in sunshine and 88 degree heat before noon. I think Leanne was impressed at how easily Eino and Spot led on their pretty green and red halters. Eino went into his own pasture and met the ram lambs through the fence. He was calmly checking out his digs when we left him. Spot went right into the familiar creep area expecting to find goodies. Was she surprised to find she no longer fit! I felt good for Spot's future when Leanne said that she'd regretted selling her last year. She was originally not for sale, but I kept coming back to her while we were choosing ewe lambs. Leanne decided to repeat the breeding and get "another" Spot. The only problem with that was that the repeat breeding produced five ram lambs!!! So, Leanne was glad when Spot came "home".

We went through the ewes and checked out 5-55 and 6-68, our chosen trade ewes. As expected, they are nice ewes, so we got down to the business of haltering and coercing them into our trailer. Between 4 of us, we got them loaded - it was kind of like Daphne's death march ;-)

As we drove away, we looked back - never look back. Spot was standing at the gate watching us leave. She kept standing there watching as long as we were in sight. Awwwwwwwwwwwww....

It was a faster drive home. We made it (in the sunshine on the East side, and in the rain on the West side) by 4:30. This is our sheep traveling rig - classy truck and funky trailer. ;-)

There was plenty of room for the two new sheep.

They came out more easily than they went in, but they're none too sure. After a while, Red halter ate some grain out of our hands. Blue Halter never did. But she did follow Red Halter.

DH gallantly killed the 2 wasp nests in their little house while I trimmed the few persistent thistles in their enclosure. Then, after (more!!) foot trimming, the new girls got to enjoy their new digs. They tested the electronet and weren't thrilled. They baa'ed at the Hilton sheep, and the Hilton sheep baa'ed back. They noticed but weren't impressed with the armload of hay and bin of alfalfa pellets. They spent a lot of time looking.

"Red Halter/6-68" (on the right) already has a new name - Pinky. She is strikingly pink around her nose and eyes with very little dark pigmentation. I like easy names. :-) Pinky is a yearling who had twins this spring.

"Blue Halter/5-55" (on the left) still needs a name. Suggestions? She was a small lamb her first winter, so wasn't bred. She had triplets this spring as a two year old, was extremely milky, and Leanne is keeping one of her triplets.

I think they'll have gorgeous Gotland babies.


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