Monday, January 22, 2018

2017 Breeding Groups - OK Acres Aries

We probably gave him more ewes that we should have given that he hasn’t produced anything yet, but he is a good black ram (spotted) and I think worth the gamble. Having said that, I have no one to blame but myself if it doesn’t work out.

Cora – fawn katmoget Canterbury daughter. Very fine, but I’ll gamble with fawn katmogets (psssst…we have too many of them).
Gwen – Another fine moorit out of Canterbury and Turin. Mrs. Patmore’s twin sister. Might get spots here.
Isobel – Fine moorit out of Canterbury and Kahlua.
Lady Rose – Isobel’s twin.
Marianne – Fawn katmoget out of Egyptian Autumn and Pearl.

The only thing we’re really trying to achieve here is convert fawn katmoget ewes into black-based lambs. Aries has good traits that should reinforce what we have in these ewes. If these ewes settle, we’ll have good lambs from this group. I don’t expect spots, but it could happen.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2017 Breeding Groups - OK Acres Nitro

We ended up going with four breeding groups this year as we targeted several different goals. It’s no secret that we’ve been trying to get more black-based sheep in our flock, so we had three groups dedicated to that initiative. It’s a high risk, high reward strategy, however, since two of the rams are unproven. At the end of the day, I think as I do every year – that this spring’s lambs will be the best ever. It’s been some time since that wasn’t the case. Steady and slow improvement each year.

Nitro got the largest group again this year for several reasons: I like him, he’s not related to most of our flock, and he’s unpatterned. The fact that he’s spotted is a nice bonus that I intend to exploit. We have several spot carriers in this group, and even a few black-based sheep, which I’m sure makes little sense if you take our goal of increasing black-based sheep at face value. Each ewe has a purpose, however, and I could explain at length about why this group is what it is. Here is a fleece picture of Nitro, followed by his group.

Jane Eyre – a repeat breeding from last year. Our finest ewe. Looking for fine spotted ewes here.

Genoa – Had trips last year, but two of the ewes were black!
Elara – A white ewe that could give us white lambs. We have precious few of those.
Blue Sapphire – Looking for black spotted ewes here.
Itasca – Looking for black ewes here. She has been a ewe factory for us and nearing retirement.
Treviso – One of Itasca’s daughters. I just think this is a good pairing. Another repeat breeding.
Fanny – Another flock favorite.
Georgianna – A great black ewe. Would have liked to use a black ram on her, but she’s too good to leave open.
Pearl – We always get good lambs out of this fine ewe. Canterbury is her son, and we are using another one of her sons this fall as well.
Mrs. Hughes – A fabulous two-year-old and one of our best. Carries spots.
Dowager Countess – nice spotted ewe out of Canterbury and a Blue Sapphire daughter. We will get spots here.
Mrs. Patmore – Canterbury x Turin. We’ll get nice spotted lambs here as well.
Sybil – A really nice moorit ewe out of Canterbury x Genoa. Wouldn’t mind spots here.
O’brien – AKA OB. Supremely nice moorit out of Mr. Darcy and Mustang Sally.
Baxter – Black ewe out of Mr. Darcy and Kyrie. The best genetics in her pedigree and she’s about as good as we are going to get in a black ewe.
Ivy – I don’t like, I love grey katmogets and this is one of the best we’ve had born here. She is out of Mr. Darcy and Pamela. I was checking out ewe roster and was surprised we only had one daughter out of Pamela. That troubles me because she was such a good ewe and we really shouldn’t sell things without getting more than one daughter out of them. Oh well, if you only have one, this is as good as it gets.

That is a lot of ewes and there isn’t one strategy involved. This group has a lot of Canterbury daughters in it. As always, we are looking for stunning fleeces in these lambs, and if we can get some black-based, spotted sheep as well, that would be good. We never breed exclusively for colors or patterns, but I feel confident that the fleeces will be outstanding, so it’s time to experiment now with some other things.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

What I am working on

I am carding Dowager Countess for batts.  I am in love with this fleece.  It is so dense and crimpy and fine and the length is perfect.  So I'll card up the lighter into batts and then spin the fawn into a gradient yarn.
Carded locks ready for the drum carder

Dowager as a baby, can't stand how cute she was

So dense and squishy

Here she is from a summer photo shoot - just a lovely elegant ewe

Cobwebby fine and beautiful luster.  I have to say it has been one of the best fleeces I have processed in a long time.

Bagged up and ready for etsy

There is nothing on the wheel, I'll be washing Marianne's lamb fleece - can't sell as a raw fleece because it had a lot of second cuts and some matting from the rise.  

Pretty girls smelling Marianne's fleece - they think it might be hay.

I've been asked to post fleeces for sale so will be adding a page to the blog.  Hope you like fawn kat cause thats pretty much all I have left.

Still working Bousta Beanie - once again it will be huge.  Not sure what I am doing wrong.  Good thing I have a big head.

Will has laid claim on the socks I'm making from ram wool - he was already wearing the one I finished, had to track it down in his room in order to check dimensions on the second sock.  The boys love handspun knit socks.
Then will be washing these two skeins, one is the gradient and one is from Lady Mary.
Also will be posting on etsy these 2 bags of batting from Lady Mary - 1 oz batt, 3 per bag.  She is really nice, will be a lovely spin for someone.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Ewe a day - Yara

We were expecting big things out of many of our ewes this year, but none came with more anticipation than Fanny, who is one of our best. Fanny had a stunning yearling fleece and we were hoping to get a ewe lamb with the same qualities. Yara is that ewe lamb. She is out of Fanny and Nitro. It’s not surprising we are getting so many fawn katmogets, because for several years, we bred almost exclusively with katmogets and there are certainly some double patterned ewes out there. I don’t know if Fanny is one of them, but she might be. At any rate, Yara is not double patterned and that gives us more options in the future as we try to bring more balance to out flock colors and patterns.

And that is it for the ewe-a-day posts for 2017. Lots of good ewes, which means we will have many stunning ewes for sale this spring. The bulk of them will be fawn katmogets (hopefully not all), but that likely means that there will be some exceptional quality ewes for sale that would not be if they were a different color/pattern. Too soon to say. Next up, breeding groups.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ewe a day - Lyanna

Lyanna is Meera’s twin. I won’t know until shearing which one I like better, but I think both are quite nice.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Ewe a day - Meera Reed

I often get bored with fawn katmogets as any regular reader knows. They are born, I forget about them, and then evaluate in September/October. That’s usually when I wonder where they have been all summer and how they ended up that nice. That is true of this girl. This is Meera Reed out of Mustang Sally and Mr. Darcy. Quite frankly, I expect lambs from sheep like that to be exceptionally nice, but it’s still a treat when it happens. We are now several generations removed from our first attempts at fine Shetlands, and we should be seeing quality like this fairly routinely (and we are).

Monday, January 8, 2018

Ewe a day - Brienne of Tarth

Brienne of Tarth is one of our favorite ewe lambs from this spring. She was one of the first born also. Unfortunately, she was born outside in a cold rain when I wasn’t home, but I think that shows her toughness. She is out of Elizabeth Bennet, one of our finest ewes, and Nitro. Clearly, she looks like Nitro. She is very fine and has the extra fleece length we were looking for when we put that breeding pair together. As I work to add to our ultra fine spotted ewe list, I’ll be looking for more like her.