Thursday, May 31, 2012

Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!!!

I spent a long time contemplating my next puppy.  Another Labrador?  Labs are my first love.  Smart, good sized, love to work, and one can still find lines that are athletic and good looking.  Then, there's Clifford, my Welsh Springer Spaniel.  He's the senior dog in the household and is ageing gracefully, yet ageing nonetheless.  Clifford is a super upland dog and I've fallen in love with the Welshie gentleness.  Labrador people are great, and so are Welshie people.  I looked again at other breeds, small herding dogs, big farm dogs, guardians, competition breeds, and always came back to Labradors and Welsh Springers.

I finally made up my mind one day while tracking training.  The Labradors hauled me hither and yon, jerked my shoulder on track and off, and took me full bore stumbling down the track.  Clifford pulls into the harness and goes at a nice pace, fast walk/slow jog for me.  As I'm looking at starting my 7th decade next month, I'm going to indulge myself a little and go with a Welsh Springer!

Not too long after deciding, I found out that one of my favorite little Welshie gals was bred to Clifford's sire, and we're now on the puppy list!  Today we found out that there will be puppies - Yeaaaaa!!!  Puppies are due July 9th.
Tatum with youthful exhuberance. Photo by Susan Willingham.
So, here's to crossing fingers for at least two little girlie Welshies from Tatum - Ch. Trystyn's Statesman Lakota Red, RN, NAJ, CHIC, 3 JH legs, and Eero - BIS/2x BISS Ch. Benton Ivy League, UD, RA, MX, AXJ, MXP2, MJP, CGC, CHIC, ASCA CDX.  One for Susan and one for me!  Mine will be Lucille.  :-)

Eero, looking fine as a Veteran show dog. Photo by Susan Willingham.

- Franna

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Close Call and Upcoming NW Shetlands Event

Dave and I were out with the sheep this morning, just watching lambs and ewes grazing peacefully.  All of a sudden Dave says "There's a lamb caught in the wire!!" and leaps over the near fence, racing toward the far fence.  I can't see anything until he's almost there, and yells back "Get the wire cutters!!"  Off to the garage where I grab the first sharp thing I see, hoof trimmers, then a quick look in the tool box shows wire cutters!  Racing back I hand the wire cutters over the fence into Dave's waiting hand.  By the time I was back around the tarp wall into the pasture, the lamb was freed.

He'd been caught long enough that his face and neck were swollen, one ear was loppy, and his gait was unsteady.  He found Mom, who wasn't ready for him to nurse - I'm not sure he could have with his swollen face.  As we watched, he wobbled over to the water tub and drank successfully.  In a few minutes he was steady and following Mom and sisters around and eating grass.  The swelling looked like it was already subsiding.  Whew!  I don't know what it is with sheep and fences.  This fence didn't even have anything attractive on the other side, just field fence up against the tarp wall.  Half of him was poked in one square and his head and one leg poked back out the next square - no going backwards.  He's a no-name lamb destined for someone's freezer or perhaps we would call him "Lucky".


Next month, Saturday, June 2nd, the Northwest Shetland Sheep group is having our spring get-together at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard (Seattle).  This museum is wonderfully supportive of the fiber community and hosts Nordic Knitting (and Spinning) Conferences in October.  We will be doing show and tell, and also have Nordic inspired fibery things for sale.  I'm planning to take roving, some yarns, and maybe a hat or two and lay them out on my fabulous Shetland Tartan tablecloth!

If you're in town, come and join us!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

2012 Shetland Lambs

Variety - one of the hallmarks of Shetland sheep.  This year we have katmogets and solids, moorit, black, white and musket lambs.  All this out of 5 ewes and a single ram - Lil'Country Nightcap.  The boys are at most half polls, and have very small to medium scurs.

We breed our Shetlands to the NASSA breed standard, striving for the fine, soft fleeces that Shetland knits are renowned for.  One of our signature products is natural colored roving in multiple colors, suitable for Fair Isle knitting.

Here are the Shetland lambs:

Three ram lambs acting suspicious.  Isn't any gathering of juvenile boys suspicious?
The black and moorit are out of Dodge Electra, the fawn katmoget is River, out of Bitterroot Bessie.  The 4 ram lambs are for sale - Electra's twins, River and his brother.
River - he went through all the panels starting just after he was born, and still goes just about anywhere he wants.  I'm waiting for him to get big enough that the panels are a real barrier!
River and his brother.  Both have very soft lamb fleeces.  River's fleece is single coated, his brother's is more intermediate.

River's twin brother.

River's brother's rear.  Nightcap put very nice rears on these lambs.

River's brother.  This little guy needs a name.
Electra and her moorit ram lamb.
Electra's moorit ram lamb.  His fleece will be intermediate and silky, like Electra's.
Electra's black ram lamb.  He's going to have a longer, intermediate fleece and larger scurs.
Blanca's black ewe lamb (reserved).  Lovely, soft and crimpy lamb fleece in a sweet package. 
Blanca's white ewe lamb (reserved).  She is ultra soft and crimpy.  I expect these ewe lambs to have mid  20's micron fleeces with nice length.
Blanca's white ewe lamb.  I like this little ewe.  Well...  I like them all!
Spark with her musket ewe lamb, Ember (reserved).  Spark has a lovely soft and crimpy fleece, and she passed it along to her daughter.  Ember's sire and grandsire are both fine fleeced Shetland rams.  Spark will have her second year fleece tested next spring.
 We also have a set of twin moorit lambs from Toffee and Nightcap.  Toffee and her lambs went to live with the elderly Cobbitty Jane after her companion died.  They've given Cobbitty Jane a new lease on life.  Late in June, Toffee's ewe lamb, Godiva (reserved), will come back to EverRanch while Toffee and her wether brother stay with Cobbity Jane.

Contact us for availability of any of our products or just to "talk sheep".
- Franna

Saturday, May 12, 2012

2012 Gotland Lambs

Lambing season came early to EverRanch in 2012.  The first lambs arrived on February 24th - 2 sets of triplets! - and the last on April 2nd - single Sprite.  This post features most of the Gotland lambs.  I'll get the Shetland lambs posted soon.

Part of the EverRanch Gotland flock
(with Eve the Scottish Blackface in the background)

2012 marks the first year with Gotland lambs in the US born of Swedish rams!  The Gotland breed was developed in Sweden, so going to the source seemed natural for our upbreeding program.  Carol Ronan,  Polly Matzinger and I collaborated to import the first, and so far only, semen from Swedish Gotland rams.  It wasn't so simple to get semen from Sweden and I totally credit Carol (Ronan Country Fibers) for making that effort successful.

Eleven top Gotland rams were collected.  A limited amount of semen is available:

Here are the results at EverRanch.  Note that several are for sale - this is an excellent opportunity to add diverse genetics to your Gotland or fiber flock!  EverRanch uses all Northern Short-Tail genetics in our Gotland upbreeding program, through Finnsheep and Shetland sheep foundation ewes.  We feel that the body type is just as important as fleece type, and ease of care and production is most important of all!  All of our Gotland sheep are recorded/registered with GSBANA - the original Gotland Sheep Association in North America.  Ewes can be registered at 75% and up, rams need to be at least 87.5% Gotland to be registered.

Our products for sale, including sheep and lambs, are on Washington Wool dot Net:

Firstborn Swedish Gotlands in the USA!!!  EVR Bits and her triplets Cameo (e), Gunpowder (r) and Powder Puff (e), 75% Gotland/25% Finnsheep.  Sire is Granby's Mr. Big.  Gunpowder and Powder Puff are for sale.  Bits produces terrific lambs and herself has fleece with high luster and softness.  It's a favorite at fleece sales.
A closer look at Cameo.  She's a keeper!
Gunpowder - for sale
Bossie lambed the same day with her triplets - two rams, Ferdinand and Angus, and a ewe, Elsa, by Sindarve Silver.  The rams are for sale.  75% Gotland/ 25% Finnsheep.
 Bossie has the softest fleece of our adult Gotlands and is wonderfully friendly. 
Bossie with Angus and Ferdinand (All for sale)

This is EVR Alice with her ram lamb, Graeme, by Sindarve Silver.   Graeme (87.5% Gotland/ 12.5% Shetland)  will be used for breeding  this fall, then will be for sale.
Graeme.  Several of our Gotland rams have small scurs like Graeme's.   I've learned through Shetland Sheep friends that genetically polled breeds like Gotlands can have these small, loosely attached scurs.  They're often knocked off (they are rams, after all!) leaving a smooth polled head.
EVR Marie (Alice's twin sister) and her ram, Desmond, by Granby's Mr. Big.  87.5% Gotland/12.5% Shetland.  Desmond (SOLD), though it's very tempting to keep him!  Marie is also for sale (75% Gotland/25% Shetland, by NZ Hoppy out of EVR Bunny)
Desmond (Sold) and Marie - for sale
Here's looking at you!  - Desmond (Sold)
Connor -  he's 75% Gotland/25% Finnsheep by Sindarve Shaun out of EVR Chamois.  I was so hoping for a ewe out of this breeding, and this ram is very, very nice.  He's for sale, though if he's still around I might use him on a couple of ewes this fall.
Lola!  ...on the left (Mica on the right).  I've been waiting for a nice AI ewe from Angie, and here she is by Fattings Tjelvar.  75% Gotland/12.5% Finnsheep/12.5% Shetland.  Angie has the best combination of fleece and structure in our flock.  Her wool is long, curly and lustrous. She's eye catching and four square with lovely tail and legs.  Lola carries that forward into the next generation.   Angie is for sale; Lola is staying.
EVR Gem and her twins, Mica (r) on the left, Smoky Diamond (e) on the right.  These 87.5% Gotland lambs are fabulously curly and stocky.  Both will be retained.  Granby Mr. Big is their sire.  
Smoky Diamond

This next group features lambs out of the backup rams, EVR Flint (87.5% Gotland/12.5% Finnsheep by NZ Ralph out of EVR Gem) and EVR Dancer (75% Gotland/25% Finnsheep by NZ Flash out of EVR Bits)

EVR Jewel (twin to EVR Gem) with one of her triplets by Dancer.  Jewel is for sale, as are two of her lambs, 1 ewe, 1 ram - 75% Gotland/25% Finnsheep.  Jewel has the most lustrous fleece with larger diameter curls.  She is a wonderful mom and long bodied ewe.
EVR Suede - by Dancer out of Jewel.  Suede is staying.  This breeding is a combination of our best producing Gotlands and the best of the UK and NZ bloodlines.  
These twins are DeeTee's latest.  The ram is on the left and the ewe is on the right.  Both are for sale.  The ram has tight pincurls like his sire, Flint.  The ewe has a more typical open curl.  68.75% Gotland/ 25% Shetland/12.5% Finnsheep
DeeTee's ewe lamb again.  She's lovely and for sale!
These two are EVR Delilah and EVR Sprite.  (Sold)  Delilah is Angie's daughter from 2011 out of RCF Caidon.  Delilah is 68.75% Gotland, balance Finn and Shetland.  Sprite is by EVR Flint and out of Delilah. Sprite is 75% Gotland, bal Finn/Shet.   Sprite was the last lamb born on the farm and has already overtaken the smaller triplets in size.  She's a real character and very cute with her white tail tip and socks.
Delilah and Sprite.  They are a very nice pair.  Delilah is doing very well at being a first time mom.  Sprite is  75% Gotland and eligible for registration with GSBANA.  Both have the slender, long legs, body style and short, fluke shaped tail typical of the Northern European Short-tailed sheep.
EVR Delilah - sold.

Missing photo!!!  Bunny and her triplets by EVR Flint will be included in a future post.  Although, Bunny is the front and center sheep in the leading photo, above.

More to come!
- Franna

Friday, May 11, 2012

Breeding Groups!

Hah!!!  I just found this post in the drafts pile.  Well, better late than never to publish the post.  It'll explain the lambs a bit better as they're posted in later blogs.

...written in mid-October, 2011
Today was "move the sheep into breeding groups" day. AI was 2 weeks ago, and it was time to get the backup rams in. The "main man" is ram lamb EVR Flint - an 87.5% Gotland/12.5% Finn. Flint has soft, soft blue-grey fleece on a refined body. His dam is EVR Gem, the 2010 Island County Supreme Ewe, and his sire is from New Zealand - Ralph. Three of the AI'd ewes are closely related to Flint, including Gem, so they went into the pen with EVR Dancer.
Here's hoping Flint only has one ewe to breed - ewe lamb Delilah, and Dancer has none!

I also put the Shetland ewes into a pasture by themselves, soon to be joined by Nightcap and Babybee.

Flint has:
EVR Bits (50% Gotland/ 50% Finn). Bits is one of our favorite ewes. She has a soft handling, curly white fleece on a very nice body. She is friendly and produces well. We now have a 75% daughter of hers, so it's possible she'll be for sale in a year or two.
EVR Bossie (50% Gotland/ 50% Finn). Bossie is another of our first year Gotlands. She has the finest fleece of any adult we've kept. Bossie, too, is very friendly. We haven't kept a ewe lamb from her, so fingers are crossed for next spring!
EVR Bunny (50% Gotland/ 50% Shetland). Bunny is the third of our first year Gotlands that we still have. She has produced very well for us. We have three of her adult ewe offspring - Angie, Alice and Marie, and used a ram from her, Jack, for two years. This year she gave us triplets including 2 ewes. It's likely we'll keep at least one of them.
Owl Hill Deepti (50% Gotland/ 50% Shetland). We bought DeeTee as an adult and have yet to keep a ewe lamb from her. Hopefully, in 2012!
EVR Angie (50% Gotland/ 25% Shetland/ 25% Finn). Angie has the best fleece/body combination of any of our 50% Gotland ewes. Her head and expression are gorgeous!
EVR Delilah (68.5% Gotland/ bal Shetland/Finn)
EVR Alice (the 2011 Island County Supreme Ewe, 75% Gotland/ 25% Shetland)
EVR Marie (75% Gotland/ 25% Shetland)
EVR Eclaire (32.5% Gotland/ 67.5% Finn)

Dancer has:
EVR Chamois (50% Gotland/ 50% Finn)
EVR Gem (75% Gotland/ 25% Finn)
EVR Jewel (75% Gotland/ 25% Finn)

Nightcap has:
Dodge Electra (grey, double coat)
Bitterroot Bessie (fawn katmoget, long fine double coat)
EverRanch Blanca (white, fine crimpy, poll carrier?)
EverRanch Toffee (moorit, fine crimpy intermediate, poll carrier?)
EverRanch Spark (grey katmoget, intermediate, poll carrier?)
EverRanch Popcorn (white, fine & crimpy, poll carrier?)
Lil'Country Babybee (moorit, fine & crimpy, poll carrier)

The Maiden Yearlings

The group of Gotland lambs born last year at the end of May started the winter keeping company with the Shetlands.  As the Shetlands had their lambs, they went into a separate pen, more suitable for raising lambs without competing with the unbred yearlings.  These girls are actually not quite 1 year old, since they were born near the end of May, 2011.
Crystal, Ruby, and Pearl - Crystal is 87.5% Gotland by NZ Ralph and EVR Gem.  Ruby is 87.5% Gotland by NZ Hoppy and EVR Jewel.  Crystal is 75% Gotland by NZ Ralph and EVR Bits.  Ruby is for sale.
Here is another photo of Ruby.  She has nice length of body, like her dam, Jewel.
This is Ruby's fleece (top/side).  Soft, silky, grey curls.  It feels good and she likes to have  fingers run through it.
This is Ruby's twin, Sapphire.  Sapphire has a little more variegation in her fleece.  Otherwise, they're very much twins.
EVR Sapphire 87.5% Gotland  by NZ Hoppy ex EVR Jewel
EVR Sapphire
EVR Kanin, 75% Gotland by NZ Ralph ex EVR Bunny.  Bunny has been one of our best producers. 
EVR Kanin

EVR Conejo, Kanin's triplet sister.  Conejo didn't want to show her face this session, just her curls.  Connie is for sale.
EverRanch Popcorn.  NASSA Registered Shetland.  Popcorn is  by  Firth of Fifth Barish ex EverRanch Blanca, a V Creek Buddy daughter.  Popcorn has lovely, crimpy, fine fleece and might carry polled genetics.

EverRanch Popcorn

The yearlings share their pasture and feed with "Goose Goose".  After his friend disappeared, GooseGoose adopted the sheep as his flock.  He' protects' them from the barn cats, the dogs and the other sheep.  It's very funny to hear him answering the sheep "baaaaaa's" with his honking.

Katrina watching the photo taking with interest.

These photos were taken in the back yard.  The sheep are very good at taming the jungle of spring grass.  As a bonus, they've stripped the needles from the downed fir branches!