Friday, October 29, 2010

Breeding Season!

It's always a challenge to figure out who goes with whom, when do we start, and when do we end. I maintain a small flock of purebred Shetlands, and breeding up the Gotlands. Firth of Fifth Barish came all the way from Minnesota to be the Shetland "man" here, but first he stopped at Michelle's Boulderneigh farm. Barish came "home" from Michelle's last week and went in with my six synchronized Shetland ewes, Electra, Bessie, Astrid, Blanca, Mindy and Toffee.

Actually, the first breeding group here was Caidon (87.5% Gotland/12.5% Shetland) with three sold % Gotland sheep - Queen, Razel, and Ruffles, and the four Finns, Niblet, Freckles, Pinky and The Brain. These girls went to a farm in Ephrata on Monday. Danson (75% Gotland/25% Finn. With 2 sisters and several daughters here, he was kind of superfluous) went with them to catch any that Caidon didn't.

Yesterday, Barish and Dancer went to service ewes for Kendara, leaving space here to shuffle sheep into more breeding groups. So, it was kind of like dominoes. The 6 Shetlands had to vacate the Hilton breeding suite, so they went into the ewe lamb pasture, after the ewe lambs were locked in the barn. Three ewes from the ewe lamb group (Alice, Marie, and Cocoa Puff) and one from the big ewe group (DeeTee) went into the lane, so they could be led into the Hilton breeding suite.

It got a little exciting when Caidon jumped this fence as this first group of ewes - for Jack - went by to their breeding pen. We quickly penned them, caught, haltered, and tied Caidon and put up the electric topline. He promptly checked it with his nose and stayed put.

We then haltered and led *Jack* into the breeding pen with the four ewes. I realized after taking the photo that all 5 are Gotland/Shetland. Left to right they are Alice (75% Gotland), Marie (Alice's twin), Jack, DeeTee (50% Gotland) and Cocoa Puff (DeeTee's daughter, 25% Gotland). Puff is pushed back and looks small in this photo, but she's almost as big as Alice and Marie. This group has the potential to produce brown (grey) as well as (black) grey. I'm excited about these lambs ... well, okay, I'm excited about all the lambs :-)

Next, Angie (50% Gotland/25% Shetland/25% Finn) and Daisy (37.5% Gotland/25% Border Leicester/25% Bluefaced Leicester/12.5% Shetland) were separated from the "big" ewe group in the barn and again brought down the lane - this time into Caidon's lair. This photo is fun - showing Daisy with her higher set "Leicester" ears and Angie and Caidon with lower (just above horizontal) Gotland/Shetland ears.

Here's another view of Caidon. He's got a nice, long body, 4 square legs, strong topline, beautifully curled fleece. He has knobby, loose scurs which sometimes occur on polled breeds of sheep.

The Shetland girls got integrated into the small ewe group in the barn. They immediately went to the hay feeder to "tuck in". Here are Toffee (upper left), Eclaire (below Toffee), Astrid (behind 'Claire), Blanca (visible green tag), Randi (little white lamb), and Bessie.

In the back of the barn, Mindy and Bessie (along with one of the Speckled Sussex hens) go through the new bedding looking for goodies.

...while Fiona settles into the corner to chew some cud.

In the other section of the barn, 7 of the big ewes are held in anticipation of our possible December AI. We should know by mid-November if the AI will be reality. Six of the ewes are in this photo - from left top is Eve (Scottish Blackface), Bossie (Gotland/Finn), Gem (75% Gotland), Chamois (Gotland/Finn), Jewel (75% Gotland), and Bits (Gotland/Finn). Bunny (Gotland/Shetland) is out of the photo to the right, and alpaca, Acclaim, peeks over the top of the feeder.

More sheep! This group is the ram lambs, most of whom will go to market in a couple weeks. These fellas are Gotland crosses, one Shetland and one SuffolkX. There are some nice sheep in here that would have been keepers if they'd been female.
Here is Dusty, the Shetland ram lamb. He's a grey gulmoget, friendly and very cute.
So, I'm done with sheep shuffling for a while. It's time for the voyeur part - if I want to know when lambs are due. :-)
- Franna

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For Sale - EverRanch Cocoa Puff

This is Cocoa Puff. Puff has been an eye catcher from birth in April. She is 25% Gotland and 75% Shetland. She inherited the light brown "modified" color from her Shetland sire and wide curl from her Gotland/Shetland dam. She has a small krunet spot.

Puff looks a lot like a Shetland, is friendly and halter trained. She will mature slightly larger than a Shetland. She is also for sale! Puff can be sold open or bred to our 75% Gotland/25% Shetland ram, Jack, who also carries brown, or one of our other rams.

Puff is available for $150. I can deliver within a reasonable distance and am making trips into Western Oregon, Eastern Washington and Whidbey Island in the next several weeks.

Interested? Just let me know.

- Franna

Monday, October 11, 2010

Super 17

The Island County Fair has an Open Class exhibit category that they call the "Super 17". To enter, one must have an entry in each of the 17 categories:

201 Division A: Food Preservation
201 Division B: Baked Goods
201 Division C: Needlework
201 Division D: Quilting
201 Division E: Sewing
202 Division A: Fine Arts
202 Division B: Photography
202 Division C: Adult Arts & Crafts
202 Division F: Fiber Arts
203 Division A: Floral
203 Division B: Vegetables
203 Division C: Fruits
203 Division D: Grains & Grasses
204 Division A: Homemade Wine
204 Division B: Beer & Hard Cider
205 Division A: Educational Displays

Whew! That's quite a list. (hmmm, I count 16 - and that's straight from the website) They've decided to hold workshops on each of the categories in order to promote the challenge. A couple weeks ago, my friend Joanne and I went to the wine making workshop. This photo shows Terry, the 2010 winner of the Super 17, Joanne and our table of "ingredients".

This wine was super simple. Made from white grape juice, sugar, yeast, yeast food and some tartaric acid (I think). We made it in gallon sized batches, and about a dozen of us were at the workshop.

A few minutes after adding yeast, it became neutrally bouyant and suspended througout the liquid. Pretty!

We tasted some of the results from the 2010 fair. It wasn't too bad! We also got to taste some mead (fermented honey beverage), and that was quite good.

Dave and I already have cider "brewing" for 204, Division B - Beer and Cider. Of note, is that the beverage doesn't have to be alcoholic. :-)

In past years... way past years, I entered lots of baked, canned, dried, floral, vegetable, sewing, quilting and needlework categories at the Benton-Franklin County Fair when I lived in Richland, WA. Those shouldn't be too difficult to come up with, and I even have several UFO's around. The Fine Arts, though. Hmmmmm, that's going to take some thinking, and probably a lot of trial and error.

Should be interesting!

- Franna