Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jefferson & Underhill Farm

The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival was last weekend.. It was a whirlwind, and I didn't get my camera out nearly as much as I should have. My BFF Denise came with to show her mule lamb on Sunday, and to sell her little white grade lamb, which she did.

After we got our sheep tucked in on Friday, a bunch of us had all-you-can-eat fish at a local greasy spoon, one more check on the sheep, then I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The next morning, I volunteered for almost 2 hours at the NASSA/ MSSBA tables, then quickly prepped my two lambs for the show. Letty Klein was the judge, and she really did a good job judging. She specifically stated that she would not take size into consideration, which is always music to my ears.

My ram lamb placed last place out of eight. Letty commented that she felt he had excessive hair on the tip of his tail, which I did not expect to go unnoticed. I did get a lot of complements on both his structure and his fleece.
He did not sell, and now I'm debating if I should cull him or continue to offer him for sale. Any advice from anyone who checked him out at the show?

Lil'Country Maid Marion, A Stephen Rouse creation (Blues X Arabesque) came a hair away from winning Best Fleece on the Hoof. Letty had a difficult time deciding between my lamb and Lori Stephenson's (excellent) sheep. After a loooong, agonizing wait, she choose Lori's.
Immediately afterward, as I was leaving the ring, I was quickly approached by someone wanting to buy her. When I relayed that this lamb had already been sold (to Rayna), several people still wanted to touch her and feel her soft, crimpy, consistant fleece.

Much of my time was spent chatting with fellow Shetland shepherds. If I try to list everybody, I know I'll forget someone. So many friends old and new, so little time to really, really catch up. But it was wonderful. :)

Except when I got stung by a bee while eating a lamb bbq sandwich. One of those annoying garbage can bees.

On Sunday, Denise showed her mule lamb. I told her not to expect to place very well in the ring, up against Mark Lelli's mules, and she didn't. But the judge did say she had a nice lamb, and Denise had a blast! She wants to come back next year and show her mule again.

After the mule show, we finally got around to visiting the vendors. I bought a few books, and Denise expressed a desire to learn to spin. Luckily, we ran into Chris and Allen Greene, perfect people to get advice from for a beginner spinner. Allen recommended the 1.1 oz, 2.5" whorl Schacht Hi-Lo spindle, and gave us a quick lesson.
I bought one, too. Gail Former had recommended to me, in the past, to spin up a bit from all my sheep so I could better learn the fleece characteristics of each individual animal. It will be quicker and easier to do this on a drop spindle rather than my wheel.

While I was off at Jefferson, Gail Former of Underhill Farms, IN, was at the AGM in New Jersey. Gail was kind enough to transport my new polled ram for me, all the way from Maryland.
While we visited, Gail mentioned that she had some North Wind Holiday daughters for sale. Holiday is Gallifrey's sire (remember him? My first polled ram), and Bill Stearman got scurred ram lambs by him this year! I decided that I would buy myself a few birthday presents for myself. ;)
Holiday is now in Canada, I probably wouldn't have the opportunity to get my hands on any more of his get.
Gail and I caught up all of his ewes, all yearlings, and I haltered up the six that had depressions on their heads, and no bone knobs. I figured these ewes had a 50/50 chance of carrying polled, and the lack of bone knobs would make them more likely poll carriers.
After about an hour of careful hands-on examination of both conformation, tails, and fleece, then releasing the ewes in a pen so I could observe their way of going, I made my choices. It was HARD. I felt like a kid in a candy store, and all the ewes had good characteristics that I liked. These were my choices.
This is Underhill Bar. A heterozygous black smirslet. Dame is Shelteringpines Barbara. Her fleece does have some crimp to it and has minimal outercoat. And of course, I'm a sucker for spots. I think she'll have a nice lamb for me.
I saw her full twin at Gails, he is scurred. She's slightly hocky, but I liked everything else about her. Typy head, open shoulder, cobby build. I think I will put her under Bearclaw.

This is Underhill Galena, a heterozygous musket. Dame is Shepherd's Gladys. My eye was instantly drawn to this ewe's build. Like a concrete block, nice and cobby. She has more of an outer coat than I prefer, and a small amount of shoulder scadder (beaver fleece) but even the outer coat has a soft handle. She'll throw me a nice lamb under the right ram, I'm sure of it!

And this is Fox Meadow Shamus. (I'm probably butchering his name). A yearling moorit, and he's absolutely, incredibly gorgeous. He looks big-headed in this photo, but he isn't. He simply had enough of travel and was not cooperative for a quick photo shoot, and I didn't want to push him and stress him further.

Upper mid-side.................Wow.
I just might have to use this boy this year. :)
Now that Jefferson is over, I can simply relax and enjoy the sheep for a while. Breeding season is a few months away yet. I have some books to catch up on.


Michelle said...

And next June Seamus is coming to Boulderneigh wtih Garrett, RIGHT? VERY nice; congrats on getting him and two nice ewes!

Becky Utecht said...

Ooh, I love the crimp and the rich color of the fleece on Shamus (Seamus?)! Congrats on all your new additions. :-)

Laura said...

Shaus'es fleece looks just like Fife's (an Orion F1.) Your new ewes look very nice.

Nancy K. said...

Happy Birthday AND Merry Christmas! The gifts that keep on giving...


Bill Stearman said...

So pleased to see you seeking out Holiday girls! He is a wonderful ram ... AFD at age seven - 23.5 ... carries polled ... carries modified ... not a white fibre on his body ... a gentle ram. Perhaps it was his smaller size ... most of his lambs born here are as fine, short and square as he is, but not the 'type' that has been winning in shows.

Congrats on the purchases ... and good luck with the breeding ... :-)

Juliann said...

Thanks everyone. :)
Michelle, I don't know if I'll be ready to part with him next June. That won't give me enough time to evaluate his lambs, and I definetely want to keep some ram lambs by him. Let's play this one by ear.
Bill I'm happy to have some Holiday girls here. I probably would not have bought these ewes if you hadn't shared photos of his lovely lambs.