I liked Bond as a lamb and still do. His mother is V Creek Sarah and I’ve never seen her in person, but I hear she is nice. She is fine, carries polled, has nice bloodlines, and is a grey katmoget. That’s what I know. Bond’s father is Lil’Country Nightcap, who I have seen in person and like a great deal. Nightcap’s yearling AFD was 21.1 microns, which is outstanding. Bond is also a Sheltering Pines Pompey Magnus grandson. Why is this relevant? It’s not really. I just like that ram a lot. His three year old AFD was 25.7 microns. Those are just numbers, but I like shetlands who can reproduce that. Anyway, my point is that Bond comes from good genetics and has fineness in his pedigree on both sides. When you can combine structure and fleece characteristics in one sheep, you have something. Here we have three generations (son, father, grandfather) of fineness and structure. You could probably extend that back one more generation, but I’ve never seen his great grandfather in person. I know he produced well, however (Bombarde, Salicional, etc.).
Genetics aside, what do I like about Bond, and what does he bring to the table? He has nice density, fineness, and consistency on top of what looks to be a great conformation. He was a knockout as a lamb! I’m always somewhat reserved when I talk about ram lambs because they grow so much in that second summer. I do think he will mature out as a stunning ram, however. He has great legs!
Bond is one of those rams who I expect to have a strong impact on our flock. In three years, I expect to look back and be impressed with what he did for us. You never know, however. He has too many ewes to mention in detail, but I’ll comment on a few:
Wintertime Itasca. I love her fleece. We could get something quite remarkable here. Sure, they will most likely be either black or katmogets, but they should be nice. Both of these sheep are a cut above in my mind. It probably depends on what you like, however. Itasca’s fleece is very crimpy and looks to be a little short, but his has a nice length. I think I could’ve put her with Blue’s Clues as well. Itasca is out of Whistlestop 0427 (Blues’ and Jazz’ mother), and Wintertime Landslide. That makes Itasca a half sister to those spectacular rams. I don’t know all that much about Landslide.
Whispering Pines Jasmine and Dahlia. These two are nearly identical. I like both of them, but I don’t know what to expect here. Sure, they’ll be grey katmoget lambs, but I just don’t know what else to expect. I just felt Bond was the best fit for what they have/lack. This is also a good test to see whether Bond has spots or not.
Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit. She was actually put in with Bond as a backup, but I think he bred her. This was a no brainer for me. She has one of our nicest fleeces and carries polled. I would expect her to have some of our nicest lambs when all is said and done. Yes, more grey katmogets. All I can say for sure is that she is bred. Her micron is 28ish with an 18% CV. Not bad for a four year old. I really hope she gives us ewes as nice as the rams she had last year. All of her lambs so far have been knockouts. Cor has a fabulous pedigree (Bramble Dixen, Thelonious Monk, Justalit’l Lana, etc.). By all accounts, Dixen was an amazing polled ram. She’s a third generation of amazing fleeces. All I know for sure is that if I was going to a show, and could only take one sheep with me, she'd be the one.
Whispering Pines Primrose. Another spotted ewe. I think she could have a really nice lamb out of Bond. They are both nice, but he complements her pretty well. I’d really like a moorit here. She went in late with him, so I don’t expect anything until late April. Will the lamb be spotted? I’m not counting on it, but one can hope. I still like her fleece as a two year old. It has a nice lock structure and handle. It has a bolder crimp, however, which is something he can help her with. So, we could get something pretty nice here. I don’t have new micron results on her but I would anticipate 29ish with a 25% CV. Hopefully better. It feels better than that.
Morning Glory. An excellent ewe that needs to be finer. It’s really pretty simple. She’s not coarse, but she’s not as fine as she needs to be. Her fleece is pretty typical of a NA Shetland. Pretty good lock structure and about six inches long. We think Bond can improve her fleece, that’s really the whole deal here. I like this ewe a lot, so we’re hoping for nice lambs. Her parents were both nice, which always influences my decision process.
Whispering Pines Cosmos. Onyx’s daughter has great potential. She’s really a nice ewe and her fleece is more like Morning Glory’s. They are virtually identical. I would characterize both as double-coated, but the length is not extreme. So, I don’t know what to expect here either. She’s not as level as Morning Glory, but her parents are, and Bond looks pretty good in that area right now as well. These two ewes are probably the nicest Cihat daughters that we kept. Cihat was a Darius son, and virtually a carbon copy in many ways. Cihat’s fleece was much nicer, however. So, I’m looking to pull some of that out of his daughters. It’s a crapshoot, however. There is some strong double-coating in the pedigree, which I don’t have an issue with, but can I make them finer though in one generation? I really don’t know. That’s what makes this fun. It’s a goal. Cosmos is another one who was in Crimson Autumn’s group for one cycle, so she’ll lamb late. Better late than never.
S’more Sparkles. I love this F2 Orion! Great density and silkiness. Just a great fleece. I’d like to shave a few microns off of it, but that’s about the only thing we need out of her. Her son last year was very nice. Sparkles has a very full fleece with good length. It’s about as long as I like in a Shetland fleece, but it spins like a dream. I’m not sure how well this year’s fleece will spin. It’s not as fine, but it still handles well. I think she’ll micron in the high 20’s, but should have a decent CV. Even though her fleece might test similar to Primrose’s, it’s a much different fleece. It’s much denser with less tip.
Sparkles is probably our prettiest ewe as well. Her head, body, and markings are pretty remarkable.
Whispering Pines Irish Lace. She is a Black Forrest granddaughter out of Firth of Fifth Leyland and Whispering Pines Buttercup. She is a product of our attempt at combining the best of her parents. She is an improvement on both in many areas, but she isn’t built as nicely as her mother. It’s very hard to get the best of both parents. It almost never goes that way. All of Leyland’s lambs had interesting lock structures. All had more tip than we’re used to. Her fleece is more typical of the NA shetlands that I’ve seen. Those Leyland lambs were all cool, mind you, just different. We really didn’t have a strong opinion on the fleeces one way or the other. They handled fine, which is all we cared about. Irish doesn’t look bred, but she would be late anyway. She and Primrose will probably be last. Anyway, I like the idea of combining the Black Forrest line with the Pompey Magnus offspring. I like the way her fleece handles, but it’s longer than I prefer. I think she’ll have nice lambs, however.
Sheltering Pines Christmas Holly. A nice ewe that is the result of the same line cross I just referred to. I still don’t understand her fleece completely. I’ll have to look closer after shearing. I would call it double-coated, but the inner portion is very fine and crimpy. This is a straight line breeding on Pompey Magnus, however. We’re breeding a Pompey Magnus grandson to a granddaughter. She is fine and consistent, and so is he. I don’t often breed this closely, but breeders of other animals (like horses) often do, and I don’t feel all that uncomfortable doing it once in a while. Her last micron test was: AFD: 20.8/ CV: 20.3. Again both of her parents tested quite low as yearlings.
Sheltering Pines Broom Hilda. A nice ewe with great genetics. As a black ewe, she is not as nice as Itasca, but her fleece does have a nice handle. She’s out of Wintertime Blues, but she didn’t inherit his fleece type. Given her bloodlines, I think she could have something really nice out of Bond, but who knows. Her fleece is also crimpy underneath. I don’t care for it as much as Holly’s, but there’s really nothing wrong with it either. It’s just not my type.
So, I talked about more ewes than I should have, but there are some interesting breedings here. Most probably won’t pan out like I had hoped, but I would be shocked if we don’t get some really outstanding lambs here. I’m only asking for three or four really nice ewe lambs! We’re looking for improvement in most cases, although there are several that I would like to clone. If we get duplicates, we’ll probably sell the mothers. You never really know where the nicest lambs will come from. They might come from some of the ewes I haven’t even mentioned. That’s happened before.
Last year, we ended up with really nice lambs even though we didn’t keep all of them. That’s the way it works on our farm. We have to keep a cap on our numbers, so some nice sheep are always for sale. Some are lambs, and some are adults. I really can’t say who they will be at this point. I like all of them. It really does depend on what the lambs are like. Last year, our nicest lambs were rams. If they had been ewes, the choices would have been very difficult.
The one thing I’ve decided is that the choices really need to come down to quality, rather than patterns, markings, or color. If you start chasing those things, you’ll end up with cool looking sheep, but how good will they be? It took me a while to wake up to that fact. Of course, it has led me to a lamb crop that will be 80% grey katmogets, so maybe I need to rethink that. The choices will be tough enough as it is. Do I really want a flock that consists of mostly grey katmogets?