Wednesday, April 02, 2014

2014 Micron data

Ok, ok......I admit it, I'm getting lazy in my old age.  This year's micron data has been scanned and uploaded to this blog because I just plain don't have enough time or energy to type out the information.

For those of you wanting to make informed decisions about sheep I may have for sale next year, here's the meat and potatoes of my flock fleece stats.  For conformation and breed type information, request photos when shopping at Ye Ole OK Acres.  I currently have nothing for sale except a couple ram lambs and won't have a sales list for a bit yet, but if you want on a waiting list, just let me know.  I've only bred 18 ewes this year, so I won't have 42 lambs to choose from again, Thank the Good Lord for that.  Last year was insanity. 

I've handwritten the age of each sheep after their name.  Also, there's 2 samples for Duchess, one is a mid-side and one is the area just about her britch.  Just satisfying my own curiosity with that.  All samples were taken mid-side last rib, same place every year to maintain consistency.  

My personal flock goals (my ideal) for fleece are as follows:
AFD   (average fiber diameter)  26 or less
SD   (Standard deviation)   5 or less
CV  (Coefficient of Variation) 20 or less
CEM (Coarse Edge Mean)   10 or less
SF (Spin Fineness)  this needs to be lower than the AFD
CF  (Comfort Factor)  -My ideal is 90 or more

Keep in mind that this is only the fleece portion of the whole sheepy package.  You have to have good breed type, acceptable to outstanding conformation, good mothering ability, parasite resistance (to a point), hardiness, and must be the proper size for a Shetland sheep.  So many things make the whole sheep, but since Shetlands are considered the finest of the wool breeds you really have to take a hard look at how good your fleece is and having micron testing done is scientific data that can help to train your eye and hands for fineness.  Another "tool" to help us evaluate our fleece. 

Just because a fleece is soft or silky does not mean it's fine.......and that's where a lot of us get off track, it feels soft so we assume it's fine and that's not always the case.   Fine can be measured and that's why we do the micron testing.  It's an unbiased look at our fleece stats, not just how an individuals' hands interpret "fine".   Testing removes the human opinion from the equation. 

Happy Lambing everyone.......

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

April Fools Day and Lambing 2014 begins

Bengal was the first of my girls to lamb this year, exactly as she did in 2013......with a single black ram lamb.  This little guy is out of OK Acres Garth, a shaela ram that I used for the 1st time this past fall.  His lamb fleece looks really nice and he is horned, so I may have a nice fine fleeced horned ram for all you horn lovers out there.  He has some minor head spotting, so probably a spot carrier too.  His dad is Smirslet sokket, his mom is a grey kat, so lots of possibilities genetically.

I've got Garnet, our resident lamb stealer, cooling her heals in a lambing jug until she lambs so I don't end up with her stealing lambs for the 3rd year in a row.  She is such a great mom that she just can't help herself when she sees lambs crying.

I only have 3 new moms this year, but if I leave Garnet out with the others, she's sure to grab a baby from someone and the new girls need to figure things out without the added frustration of an over zealous mom to be.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Life has interrupted my blog.......

I would like to take a second or two in order to thank Russ and Terry Dukerschein for purchasing OK Acres Pluto, a really nice fawn kat ram that I think will do good things for their flock. 
Russ and Terry came in December for an over night visit and our time with them was far too brief.  As always, my favorite thing to do is trap talk to other Shetland breeders about our mutual love of these little sheep.  I'm lucky enough that there is a small pocket in the Midwest of Shetland breeders that allows us to meet and compare notes or see each others' flocks. 

Here is Russ and Terry with Pluto loaded up and wondering where on earth he's going.  

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

UK Trip-Part 4

Sorry for the delay in posting, but life has a way of interrupting things and that's been the case for me lately.  Throw in a holiday that requires extra trips to the store, baking, cooking, driving to relatives and to top that all off, both sides of the family have a separate gathering, so you get Holiday x 2.  It's a lot of work to fit a simple relaxing day in anymore, but it's so nice to get family together in one place.

Now.......when I bugged out on you after the last post I do believe we were still on Shetland and had just visited the Vemetry flock.  Next stop was Jim Nicholson's house, the Shetland Flock Book secretary spent a great deal of time talking to us about the history of the Standard and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, as well as Shetland sheep history in general.  I'm ashamed to tell you that I was nodding on and off at his home due to sheer exhaustion, a warm home and a belly full of homemade soup and treats from our visit with Hamish Hunter and his wife.  Garrett will have to fill in the details of our discussion with Mr Nicholson, I am beyond upset with myself for not being able to focus properly while with this kind man.  I do know he gave us some copies of the "Little Green Book", which was written to clarify the 1927 Standard.
I'm looking particularly lovely in this photo.  (heavy sarcasm)  
We also visited

Our self catered apartment (Kate by her vehicle)

Near Lunna.....I think this was built for some sort of water control (sorry-not clear on that one)

John and Margaret Williamson were gracious and exceedingly generous hosts for our visit.  We were invited in for tea after viewing some of their spotted sheep and Mrs. Williamson had outdone herself with plate after plate of homemade biscuits with various kinds of meat and jams to go with them.  We indulged in tea while enjoying the generosity of this wonderful croft family.  I truly liked these friendly farm folks and would have loved to sit and chat a bit longer, but we had to speed down the road to see more "stuff".

Spotted fleece shot

Another spotted fleece shot.  I just thoroughly enjoyed the way this sheep's color pattern looked when parted. 

This is a hand carved ram horn that was in the back of John's truck.  This is a very Scottish "thistle". 

Ewes posing near Lunna

Same ewes on the run with the sea in the background

I have no idea what this is.......but it's pretty.  (lol)

John rounding up his rams for us to see.....notice the Border Collie working in the background.  John's dog were incredible, I got a bit kick out of watching such well trained dogs do their job. 

Another shot of the dog working the rams. 

Sheep near a voe

Despite numerous trips past this sign, I never got to see any otters and I was crushed.  I really, really like otters, just sayin'

The only group of trees I ever saw on Shetland.  Don't blink, you'll miss them. 

Some wall greenery on the rock wall at John Williamson's with a voe in the background

I know I went to see Shetland sheep, but these seals were the highlight of my trip!!!  I seriously love seals and these guys were so curious that they just kept diving and then popping up about 10 feet closer to me.  They got pretty close and would just bob on the water and blink their cute little eyes at me.  I was like a little kid I was so excited that they were there. 

This is Williamson's Shetland cow and her x-bred calf

An abandoned house on Shetland with a rock wall in the foreground

Shetland ewe eating seaweed before the tide comes back in........this was right next to where I took the photos of the seals.

One of the larger Shetland homes 

I couldn't resist taking photos of these.

Right or left? 

Landscape shots near Lunna

Inside Williamson's barn. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Part 3-Vemetry Flock

I was so impressed by seeing a couple hundred moorit ewes moving in unison in this picturesque setting, that I was momentarily speechless.  For those that know me, that's a rare occurrence, so keep your snarky comments to a minimum, you know who you are....

The Vemetry flock was wonderful and Hamish Hunter, Vemetry's manager, could not have been nicer.  Hamish is the a 3rd generation crofter on this land and so he knows a thing or two about Shetland sheep.  He patiently answered all our questions while we picked his brain for little tidbits of information.  ( I loved his accent)  We spent a lot of time going through the rams, old and young and then the moorit ewe flock.  We didn't get our hands on any white purebred ewes because they spend their breeding life on an island and Hamish using his row boat to take rams over and back during tupping time.  Can you imagine having to load you ram in a row boat and take him to his ewes on an island?  Boggles the mind. 
Hamish and the mature rams. 

Their home

Hamish told us that the rams are ready for tupping when the skin turns very pink on the rams.  (didn't know that)

Nice crimp...dense fleece on this guy, we really had to pull hard to get it to part this much. 

Nice butts on these boys. 

I loved the length on their moorits

One of my favorite head styles

Young ram that had quite a bit of cheek and poll wool

This ram was (I think) 4 yrs. old.  Garrett might have to correct me, he remembers details like that so well.

Lovely spiral to this guys' horns

I love taking the group shots

Ok, so now I'm getting dangerously close to stalker type behavior with the pictures of the guys.

yep,,,,,,,stalker, totally

At least I wasn't handling all of them like someone else I know..........sheesh G, put the poor sheep back with his buddies and stop ooohing and ahhing

The moorit ewes heading back to the hills via the driveway

Hamish and his very kind wife treated us to tea, cookies, cakes, homemade soup and I was ready for a nap I was so content and relaxed.  But sleep wasn't on the itinerary just yet, so off we go to the next stop. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Part 2 Shetland Islands

As the sun rises over calmer seas, our ferry finally heads to the docks in the harbor at Lerwick.  I scrambled out of our torture chamber cabin and head for the deck at the back of the ship.  This is the view that was waiting for me..........

Getting closer

The first sign of a "no trees" landscape

They don't seem very upset after a night of high seas terror.

Isn't it beautiful? ............LAND!!!

We docked, got my sick hubby out of the cabin, and drove off the ferry.  Now to see some Shetland sheep and this beautiful island (s).

Castle ruins

Mike and Garrett on the docks

Sheep on Shetland----NOTE: I think it's important to mention here that not all sheep ON Shetland are purebred Shetland sheep.  There is a lot of cross breeding that is done in order for the crofters to be able to make a living by selling to the markets.  One crofter we spoke to told us he likes to cross a Cheviot ram to a Shetland ewe and then use the ewe from that crossing and breed to a Suffolk ram.  So the pictures that I've taken of the hill sheep can't be guaranteed to be purebred Shetlands.  The flocks we visited and photographed ARE purebred Shetlands, but I'll try to make sure to make that distinction in the comments of the photos. 

more Sheep on Shetland

Quaint little houses

Shetland hills and heather losing it's summer color

Shetland Ponies

 Stay tuned for the Vemetry flock........
Hamish Hunter manages over 600 sheep there and they have moorits and whites, plus a flock of crossbred sheep. 
Wouldn't you love to look out your window at this??!!! 

Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....