Sunday, May 24, 2009

Gotland Lamb Update

It just never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes. In my last post the chickens had just arrived, lambs were still coming, and it was cold and rainy. Well, the chicks are half grown, lambing is complete (I think!), and the weather is the best it's been on Memorial Day weekend for many years! The kittens, Toby and Catrina, we started bottle raising in April are now racing around the room, climbing up my legs and generally taking over the house.

I started back to work at Take Root Farm for the second year (VERY busy right now), planted a garden (or half a garden yet), am trying to purchase 20 acreas adjacent to ERN (wish us luck!), working on semen and possible sheep import from New Zealand (more luck needed), started feeding and selling Chaffhaye (WONDERFUL product!), finished Clifford's Junior Hunter title (Yeaaaaaaa!), judged agility for the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America (excellent working teams), and am making progress toward our move to Whidbey Island (it's **sooooooo** hard to wait).

It's been busy. All the while the lambs are growing. A couple are BIG, a couple are small, and most are in between. Several of the % Gotland lambs are shown below:

This handsome lad isn't one of the lambs - this is the sire to many of our % Gotland lambs. We used 3 sires this year, the AI sire - Daniel, our white 50% Gotland/50% Finn - Kibbles and this boy. His name is EverRanch Jack, and he is 75% Gotland/25% Shetland. He has a very attractive face and lovely curly, lustrous fleece.

Two of the ewes in Jack's group are not part of our Gotland foundation flock. They're Scottish Blackface ewes Sweet Pea and Eve. Their lambs will be market lambs. They are still very cute. This is Borax, Sweet Pea's son. He has a lot of presence, and is very stocky.

This is Eve's ewe lamb. Just look at the fleece on her! If Jack can produce this type of fleece with a Scottie, he has a good future producing % Gotlands!

These next two are very interesting. The first one, Ricki, is one of Niblet's quadruplets. It is very interesting to see that her body "spots" aren't really spots at all, but part of the grey pattern, seen often in Shetlands as wild body swirls that change over to a fairly uniform grey as the secondary fibers come in. You can see this change to grey already in her lighter body areas. I expect her to keep quite a bit of white on her head, although I've seen Shetlands with this type of marking change to grey, as well.

Next is "Ricki Clone" or Cloe, one of Freckles' twins. Her body is also turning grey. Both of these girls are Jack daughters, so are 37% Gotland/13% Shetland/50% Finnsheep. Cloe is a real standout among the lambs with her long legs and statuesque carriage.

This boy is a Jack son out of Anneke. He is 62% Gotland/38% Shetland/25% Lincoln. Both he and his white twin brother have gorgeous lustrous curls showing their partial Lincoln heritage.

This next photo is Charcoal, a 50% Gotland/50% Finn (Freckles) ewe. She has triplets this year out of the AI ram, Daniel. Charcoal has the softest handling fleece of our adult % Gotland ewes.

Here is Charcoal's threesome - 2 ewes and 1 ram - 75% Gotland/25% Finnsheep. I'm very pleased with them.

Brain the white Finnsheep was our other ewe that had Daniel lambs. Below are 2 of her triplet girls. First is her grey girl...

and her larger white girl, Chamois. Chamois has a very soft fleece, and is another lamb with nice presence - long straight topline, excellent, long legs, and that way of carrying herself that is just special. The Finn/Gotland combination will be very useful for producing finer fleeces with the unique Gotland luster and curl.

This last little one is also very special. Angie is out of Bunny (Gotland/Shetland) and Kibbles (Gotland/Finn). She is therefore 50% Gotland, a double F2. She's the first of our white % Gotlands to have the looser curl typical of the grey % Gotlands rather than the tight pincurls seen on Chamois.

There are quite a few more, of course. Their photos will be posted in time. Many are for sale! I can deliver to Black Sheep Gathering.

Of course, over time, there are crises large and small that have to be dealt with. We lost the Scottish Blackface ram near-yearling a couple weeks ago. Most likely he was mortally bashed by one of the other rams. He was a gentle soul, and low ram in the group. It's always sad to lose one of the sheep. The most recent crisis - this afternoon, the "Big Ewe" group got into the pasture with the bird feeder. I had just filled the feeder (of course!), and (also of course) the sheep emptied it. They're confined in the Hilton for closer observation and so far, look okay (knock on wood!).

My Economic Stimulus Plan is coming along. We've sold a few fleeces, a couple of sheep, some used equipment, and some Chaffhaye. The businesses that we've supported as a result include Superior Fibers, Meadowwood Dairy, Skagit Fresh Natural Beverages, and the local espresso joint. We have plans to eat at the local "Five Star Diner" but went there on a Monday when they were closed. It is still to come.

My own Pay It Forward projects are coming slowly. Tina and Tina, I hope you can wait a little longer. It'll be worth it!

sheesh. Each of these topics could take a whole blog by itself. More is to come!

- Franna