Friday, May 29, 2009

Bo's horns & Gosling update

Thanks to Sabrina for following up with the horn issue. She had some great shots of her Arvada which inspired me to get out and take these shots of Bo's horns yesterday afternoon.I suspect Bo's grandmother, Bramble Cordelia is a poll carrier because she produced a scurred ram lamb when bred to a horned ram. Bo's dam is the twin sister to that scurred ram. Bo's sire, Windswept Boggart, had a magnificent set of horns. Bo is a very sweet-natured Shetland ram so far and no problem to keep. He carries modified genetics, so I was hoping I might be able to use him somehow.

And here are the two goslings that made it through the hatch yesterday afternoon. They hatched within 30 minutes of each other. The third gosling was weak and didn't manage to get into the air space. Darn!

I think I will keep these two homegrown goslings to go along with the Shetland goslings that hopefully will come from Holderread's next week.

Hatching is hard work and these two were tired!

Here's a shot showing our neighbor's pig pen right next to our pasture. It's amazing how fast those piglets are growing! That's our BFL ewe, Lanora and her ram lamb, Doulan in the shot.
It's been terribly dry here and the grass is just not growing very fast - much to my dismay. I've decided to sell six mature Shetland Mule ewes (ages 1-2 years). I can make it a package deal with the Ile de France ram if anyone is interested in getting a jump start on market lamb production with hardy ewes and great fleece.This is a photo of Delia, a 2 yr old mule and her twins in front of the natural colored BFLs. They still look pregnant!

We will also have up to three BFL rams available for sale. Granite is for sale and our two rams may be available after weaning -- pending evaluation.

Look at the cute little grape vine planter I got at the auction last week for only $2.50. I planted some blue bacopa in it. The pot appears to be hand-thrown pottery.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Chicks, Polled rams, and names at last!

I spent Memorial Day weekend with an eye on the incubator. The chicks I was incubating for a friend hatched and I sent them on their way Monday. I screwed up the humidity and lost 6 at the hatch. So I gave them all to Pierre, including the cute little Polish chicks. Now we've got what's left of the goslings pipped in the bator. I think only three eggs are still alive. I hope I can get them all through the hatch. There's nothing worse than ONE gosling. They get way too attached to humans in that case.

I finished the table runner wedding gift today and also a nuno-felt scarf. I love them both! I'm going to get more scarves done for my booth this summer at the Majestic Pines Arts Festival in Nisswa, MN.

Here are shots of my two Shetland ram lambs' heads so far. Cordelia's ram lamb is four weeks old today, and he still looks pretty smooth on top.And Leonie's ram lamb is 2.5 weeks old and same story, smooth so far. I sure hope they stay that way. But I know it's not real likely...
Now, check out Bo's horns, could they be aberrant? They are slow growing, but plenty wide and they seem firm enough. But if he carries a polled gene, I could use him on my gulmoget ewe lambs to increase the length of their fleeces. I prefer an intermediate Shetland fleece to a very short stapled, fine crimpy one.
And I've thought up names for my four Shetland ewe lambs.
Hattie's twins are Franci...And Freya...Cordelia's Ag gulmoget ewe lamb is Camille...And Hannah's gulmoget ewe lamb is Cleo...the lighter areas on her side are red-brown tips, I'll keep watching how she develops this year.Oh and here's our version of a creep area for the lambs.
This is Derra and her two 3/4 BFL ram lambs trying to figure out how to get in there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

2009 Bluefaced Leicester Breeder's Survey

Once again this year, I am involved with collecting data from all breeders of purebred Bluefaced Leicesters. We (myself and other interested BFL breeders), in collaboration with the Bluefaced Leicester Union Breed Registry, are hoping to find the actual lambing precentages of BFLs here in North America.

The short questionnaire we developed was distributed with the 2008 BLU Registry Flockbook to all members of the BLU, which includes breeders registering BFLs in 2008.

Already we've gotten replies from all over the US and some from Canada - about 15% response rate so far. But we need to hear from as many breeders using purebred BFLs as possible to get the most accurate picture.

So if you used purebred BFLs for breeding or crossbreeding last fall, please take a minute to fill in the form and return it to me by email or snail mail. No farm is too small to reply and none are too big, we want to hear from everyone!

You can download the questionnaire file from my website. It is also available at the website for the BFLFriends yahoo group in the files section.

By the way, if you're a BFL breeder or fan and haven't discovered the BFLFriends list, you're missing out! It's the place to go for friendly, informative conversation about a very peaceful, docile breed of sheep. If only people could be as peaceful, this world would be a better place.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another Pregnant ewe and SHETLAND GEESE!

Oops I spoke too soon about our lambing season being finished. I had originally thought two Shetland Mule yearlings exposed to River Oaks Bo in January looked pregnant. But as time went on, they didn't look very round or bagged up. So I wrote them off. Then yesterday as I watched the ewes run out into a new paddock, I saw that #89, Elsie, is definitely getting a bag. She's due from June 2 to June 8. So we will again have the traditional June lamb here at River Oaks Farm and Studio. I'm not so crazy about this new-found tradition! I just hope it's a ewe lamb, it will be 3/4 Shetland, 1/4 BFL. The good part is that now Bo is a proven sire. :-)

And here's the exciting news, I bit the bullet and sent in payment for some Shetland Goslings from Holderread's Waterfowl Farm & Preservation Center! I have wanted Shetland geese for years, but never had the cash to order them. Well, it's not that I have excess cash now, but I do have enough, so the time is right. If all goes well, they should arrive around June 4th. Holderread's is in Oregon, and they have good hardy stock. I ordered my Pilgrim geese from them years ago and was amazed at how perky the goslings were when they arrived.

I sold my trio of Brown Chinese geese the other night. They were excellent egg layers, but just too noisy and messy. I've got 5 of their eggs in the incubator due to hatch on Memorial Day. And I've got another dozen all washed up and ready to blow out for decorating. I'm sure the Shetland geese won't be anywhere near as noisy as the Brown Chinese. I really like the fact that Shetland geese are autosexing, so you can tell at birth if you've got males or females.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gulmoget genotypes, phenotypes and side dusting

We got three black-factored gulmoget ewe lambs this year. And yes I can tell them all apart! Each has a slightly different coloration. Left to right in the photo above you see Hannah's ewe lamb with the mid-side lightening (genotype is At/Aa BB/Bb M?/M?), followed by Cordelia's ewe lamb who is At/Ag BB/Bb, and Hattie's lamb in back, she's At/Aa BB/B? M?/M?.

Below is another shot of Hattie's lamb. Hattie is a good solid black at three years old, she's an F2 Holly. She carries modified genetics and gave me a gorgeous shaela ram lamb last year when bred to a mioget.
And here is Cordelia's Ag gulmoget lamb...she's got longer fleece and you can see the lightening underneath already.
I was hoping to get a solid-sided gulmoget like last year's River Oaks Lana (At/Aa BB/B?). At least she WAS solid-sided until shearing this spring. This is what we discovered at shearing...
Sorry she was in the rise, so she looks kind of scraggly in this photo. She didn't breed as a ewe lamb, darn!

Okay, now I'm going to felt that wedding gift! I'm all done with my census job and feel like I have my life back again. Just in time to get the garden in and enjoy what's left of spring. :-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Photos of the new Boys

Photos of Harwell, our new BFL ram lamb. What a face!And his fleece is very lustrous.

Photos of Leonie's black ram lamb....he looks blue in these photos.
Here you can see the big spaces where his horns should be. They are flat leathery patches so far, but I think he will get some kind of horn growth. Cordelia's Ag grey lamb is more hair covered in those spots. He's my hope for a polled ram. :-))

Leonie gave me the funniest look as I was photographing her newborn. She's a very protective mother, knocking the other lambs away from her precious little guy. But he's already anxious to join in the lamb races with the big lambs.

This is Doulan (in mid-air) and Diamond on Sunday morning. The rest of the flock went out to pasture, but these two just wanted to have fun.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Two New Ram Lambs!

I had a great day at Shepherd's Harvest today. The temps were awfully cold, but it was so much fun to see everyone and all the sheep on display.

Kelly Ward brought two ram lambs and two ewe lambs all the way from Michigan. I bought a gorgeous white ram lamb (on the left in photo above) who carries color (his mother is a beautiful natural colored ewe). Sorry I didn't get any good photos of him tonight when I got home. I put him in with Socks, our yearling wether, for the night. He's really big for just being born on 3-1-09!

He's a foot stamper. And he looks like a show horse trotting around the paddock. I kept Peppy, the Ile de France, away from him because they were headbutting and this guy is way too young and small to take on the IdF.

It was about 7:30 when I got to check in on Leonie and her newborn black ram lamb. He was still wet, but I could see his fleece looks very nice so far. Smooth, but leathery patches on his head, so he will probably grow some type of horns.

Final lamb stats for 2009:
15 lambs,
8 rams 7 ewes

6 Purebred Shetlands:
3 black factored gulmoget ewe lambs (one is Ag)
1 black krunet ewe lamb
1 grey ram lamb
1 black ram lamb

2 Purebred BFLs:
two ram lambs, one natural colored, one white

7 BFL Crosses:
1 - 3/4 BFL white ewe lamb
2 - 3/4 BFL white ram lambs
2 - 3/4 BFL English blue lambs, ewe and ram
2 - White Mule lambs, ram and ewe

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Shepherd's Harvest this Weekend!

Hannah and her ewe lamb before they left the jug yesterday. The poor ewes have a hard time telling their lambs apart. Cordelia and Hattie each had a dark solid lamb and a gulmoget, so they always have to sniff the lambs to make sure who's who. And adding Hannah's ewe lamb to the mix didn't help matters much. It's so cute how the tiny Shetland lambs will lead the way at the lamb races. I've got to get video of that.

I hope everyone gets a chance to attend Shepherd's Harvest in Lake Elmo, MN this weekend. It's always a fun event. Lots of vendors this year and there is still time to sign up for classes.

Kelly Ward from Michigan and LeeAnne Richert from Cable WI will be there with Bluefaced Leicesters on display. Kelly is in charge of the Bluefaced Leicester Union Registry (BLU), she will bring the traveling BLU display and be on hand to answer questions about the breed. And Letty Klein will be there! On Sunday, she's teaching a class based on her book, "The Shepherd's Rug." Should be a great time!

I plan to bring my natural colored BFL ram, Granite, along with Bo, our horned Shetland yearling ram. They are both for sale. I was going to bring Peppy, our Ile de France ram, to show the sires in a three-tier program. Peppy has really put on weight lately and turned into a heavy ram. But I haven't been feeling well lately so the more I can lighten my load, the better.

I'll also have to leave my ewe lambs at home. When we had that cougar scare I put all the ewes together and the ewe lambs were exposed to lambing fluids within the past 28 days. That rules them out for display.

If you come to the festival stop in the Hall of Breeds display and say hi. BFL breeders are hoping to get together on Saturday sometime. I have lots to do to get ready!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Another Ewe lamb!/Micron Test Results

Hannah had a big black gulmoget ewe lamb this morning. This is the first ewe lamb that Hannah has ever had. I've gotten three ram lambs from her in previous years.

I wondered if she would single this year. She didn't look like a hot air balloon like she did last year before she delivered twins. Then when I saw the size of this year's lamb, I knew she wouldn't have another one.

This gulmoget girl has the halo fleece that starts at the ribs also. She's emptied one side of Hannah's udder and is a sleepy girl now.

I have one more moorit ewe lamb who is bred to Harrison. It's looking like Harrison may be homozygous black -- we've only gotten black factored lambs from him. We'll have to see what Leonie delivers.

So far Harrison has done really well by us, with three gulmoget ewe lambs, a black krunet ewe lamb and a grey ram lamb. I know it's early to be thinking polled, but the grey lamb is very smooth on top so far.

On another note, I got my micron test results back from Texas A & M yesterday. Some were very surprising. I thought for sure my Ile de France/Dorest cross ram would micron around 19 AFD, but his was 25.0! Wow, how could I be so far off?

Our flock average AFD is 26.9.

Of our lambs from last year, lowest micron count of 22.5 came from Lana (black gulmoget ewe lamb out of Harrison and River Oaks Lucy), then 23.3 from McIntire (fabulous black ram lamb out of Windswept Boggart and River Oaks Hattie), and then 24.2 from Marshall (scurred mioget ram lamb out of Boggart and River Oaks Hannah).

Of the BFLs, River Oaks Leora (Lanora's white lamb from 2008 sired by Granite) was the lowest with 24.9 AFD.

Bo, the little ram lamb we retained (out of River Oaks Cora and Boggart) microned at 25.3. So nothing special this year.

The good news was that only one sheep in our flock microned over 30 AFD. That was Derra, our longest fleeced Shetland mule. And her fleece is pretty nice, so I'm not complaining. :-)

Still pretty shocked over the Ile de France ram though...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lamb Photos & Garage Sale time again!

This weekend was Mora's city-wide garage sale. I've been so busy, I didn't realize it until I noticed all the early birds shopping on Friday evening. Remember the great deal I got last year during the city-wide garage sale on a Kromski harp rigid heddle loom with floor stand? I was hoping to find that same lady selling more looms. So I scoured the ads and found one listing a loom. I got to the sale right at the 7:00 a.m. opening. And there it was, the same big oak triangle loom on a sturdy stand (complete with Carol Leigh's video) that I had passed up last year! And this year it was half the price! I snapped it up along with a pair of lamps, some craft items and a quilt rack.
Yes, it is big, I haven't even carried in the stand in yet. So here it is propped up against the entertainment center.

Then Jeannine stopped over with her grand-daughter to visit the lambs. Here they are with Leavon, the twin lamb Jeannine saw born on 4-8-09 when she stopped in on her evening walk. He is super friendly, just like his grandma Cocoa. She was my favorite ewe and I sold her last year.
Look at the size difference between the first lamb born here on 4-8-09 (Leavon's twin brother) and the bigger one of Hattie's Shetland ewe twins born on Wednesday, 4-29-09.Below is the other twin, a black Krunet with that tight fleece with the halo starting at the ribs.

Here's the black gulmoget again...she's a chunk!
And here's a shot of Lanora's lamb, Doulan, at about a week old. He's a big lamb.
And here's Devlyn...looking good.Cordelia's ram lamb, with the smooth spots instead of horns so far. :-)
And his twin sister, an Ag gulmoget.

Our smallest 3/4 BFL lamb, Diamond. Her sire is Granite.

And here is Mabeline looking regal in the morning sun. I think those are her Shetland Mule lambs behind her. It's hard to tell for sure with all the white BFL cross lambs running around.