I’ve become super excited about this coming season’s shearing! This week I was out changing up coats on the flock to keep ahead of growing wool and got to see and feel their fleeces – up close and personal. They so impressed me that I’ve decided to enter a number in the fleece competition at Shepherds’ Harvest fiber festival this May. If all goes as planned, here is the line-up:
Sheep Division Class Breed
Olivia Purebred Medium Babydoll Southdown
Adrien Purebred Medium Babydoll Southdown
Becka Colored Medium? Babydoll Southdown X Finnsheep
Bro White Medium? Babydoll Southdown X Finnsheep
Below are a few close-up images of the wool beneath the coats. Nina’s fleece is always longer than most, but she was only coated since November, so Olivia’s, who also trends longer, will be entered. She’s been coated since last shearing. The Finnsheep crosses may be fine enough that the judges will move them to the fine category. There they would be up against Merinos who have very fine textured wool. Since cleanliness is highly weighted, I’m thinking they should do fine anyway. I am planning – time permitting – to post pictures/ weights of fleeces and offer for sale on this website. The fleeces exhibited at Shepherds Harvest will be auctioned off there (unless I get an “offer I cannot refuse” 😉 ). I am also planning a shearing day open house (March 18th) where newly shorn fleeces can be purchased. My coat provider, Rocky, was telling me that it’s been a good wool growing year with some flocks growing into sizes of coats they’ve never had to use before. Click on each image for a close up look at their crimp!
Nina’s back wool – luscious and long!
Adrien’s back wool – still nicely dark.
Bro’s back wool – perhaps 4″ long!
The woolly ones are often foremost on my mind as lambing time nears. I’ve been doing some updates to their accommodations to keep them comfortable and healthy.
The feed bunkers improve things in 3 ways – greater space (shoulder room) to feed grain, hay not eaten off of ground (less loss of fines and fewer parasites ingested), and, (when 4″ x 4″ fence grid in place), less neck wool contamination. Although this is mainly for the new mothers come late March – here the wethers are vying for some choice bits. Bashful hangs out in the background.
Second feed bunker modified to prevent through passage in first use.
This shows the reroofing of a shed that was partially deconstructed a while back. The white metal was saved from remodel of my house. At least a part of the non-pregnant sheep will have shelter here for the next couple of months – depending on how well the rams get along. …Or bratty Moonshadow vs. little Bucko.
As the ewes grow in girth – mostly from wool at this point – I’m envisioning their little lambs bouncing around the pens come late March. This year all their names will begin with a “C” and I’m curious to know if readers of this post might have some additional options to present. I’m needing a surplus for each gender since, from past experience, I know the sex ratio can vary considerably. In 2014, for instance, I had 7 ewes out of 9 lambs! (This was great for my flock growth, I might add.) I’ve listed the names I’ve come up with so far in the list below. Some are barrowed from humans, some from plant names (surprise, surprise) and some are whimsical/nonsensical, but just sound fun. I name the lambs in alphabetical order (mostly) and try to pair twins with the same starting letters. (I need memory aids at this point to remember who is who.) I’m expecting up to 20 lambs: 16 Babydoll and 4 3/4 Babydoll x 1/4 Finnsheep.
Girls’ names are in Red and Boys’ are in Blue
Caliope Calvin Calista Cambria Cameron Calla Candice Carla Carlton Caroline Carrie Carson Cary Cecelia Cecil Cedric Celeste Celosia Chandler Charles Charlotte Charisse Cindy Clayton
Cletus Clovis Conrad Constance Craig Cray Crayola Crinoline Crypton Cusina Custer Curtis
Cassandra, Chief, Commander, Corie, Cynthie
Michael Goulet and an assistant made a bit of a splash at the Benton County Fair this week showing Bella and Bliss in the March Lamb division. This is the first time Babydolls had been exhibited at in that county’s fair. Bella landed a second place award and Bliss came in right behind her in third place. Congratulations to Michael for his showmanship and thanks to his mom, Connie, for the image!
Michael with Bliss and assistant with Bella in the show ring.
As the season shifts into summer, I still need to do some tweaking of the fiber flock’s composition – selling some to enable the purchase of additonal blood lines. I have 3 ewe lambs from this year, one yearling ewe, and my ram from the previous 2 seasons for sale. They are all registered and all with RR genes for the Scrapies susceptibility gene site. Ewes sell for $400 and ram for $300. Slight discount for multiple animal purchases.
Babette (rear left), Bashfull (not!) (front) and a glimpse of Hattie’s rump (right rear).
Babette and Bashful are twins born 3/19/16.
Babette – sale pending 7/12/16, Bashful will be kept at Prairie Plum Farm.
Bonita with her mom, Olivia.
Bonita was born a twin on 4/3/16. Super cute with distinctive buff-colored stockings. Sale pending 7/12/16.
Abigail has a clear face and smallish head.
Abigail was born a twin on 3/24/15. She gave birth to a single this spring. Sale pending 7/12/16.
Winslow shortly after shearing this spring.
Winslow bred 1/3 of my ewes last year and 2/3 this year and has produced some very nice offspring. He’s 23″ at the shoulder and is not aggressive.
Interested parties should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (715) 220-1183 – also read the page on reserving a lamb/adult sheep. I’d love to help you start a flock or enrich one you already have! Babydolls are the BEST!
I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s Spin-In in Decorah, IA. The Oneota Weavers are hosting the Iowa Federation of Weavers and Spinners Conference at the Winneshiek Co. Fairgrounds. I’ll be vending my Babydolls’ wool as raw fleece, rovings, top, batts (quilt and craft sizes), sport yarn, and felting 4-packs.
There are sessions most of the day for Federation members, but the vendor building will be open to the public from 11:30 to 1:30. Any Fiber Fiends among you are invited!
NABSSAR has amended its registration requirements to include hard copy photos of sheep to be registered showing their head and ID tags – preferably the Scrapies farm tags. Taking these gives me a chance to show you-all the cute faces of this season’s lambs.
Bashful – TW Hattie by Winslow DOB 031916
Bea – SG Penny by Winslow DOB 032216
Becka – SG Tammy by Arlo (Finn) DOB 032216
Betsy – TW Claire by Winslow DOB 033016
Bliss – TW Claire by Winslow DOB 033016
Beau – TW Fergie by Winslow DOB 033116
Bella – TW Fergie by Winslow DOB 033116
Brea – TW La Nina by Arlo (Finn) DOB 040416
Bro – TW La Nina by Arlo (Finn) DOB 040416
Bonita – TW Olivia by Winslow DOB 040316
Babette – TW Hattie by Winslow DOB 031916
Hattie and her girls on their birth day.
Mabel, MN March 19, 2016 – To add to the excitement of shearing day, I had two little ewe lambs born this morning to Hattie and Winslow. They are both as black as coal – NOT what I expected from a white ram*. The longer I’m at this it seems the less I know about fleece color genetics. They are darlings – weighing in at 7#11 ounces and 7#4. Mom and daughters are doing very well. I need to start thinking of names starting with B in earnest now. Watch for new arrivals on
*It turns out – Winslow’s dam was black so it makes sense after all. He carries the black gene from her masked by the dominance of the white gene from his sire.
Barn table piled high with bags of wool.
Mabel, MN March 19, 2016 – The wooly ones have been relieved of their fleeces! I had a fine crew of helpers and we got all 15 done in less than 2 hours. Brent Winslow, shearer from Chatfield, MN, braved the snowiness and led the crew. Thanks to Mark, Ken, Carol, Jonya, and Gwen for their help in wrangling the livestock and collecting the fiber. This year I’m storing the fleeces in kraft paper landscape waste bags so the bags can lose moisture even if they are sealed shut to exclude moths. If mice want to make nests in the fluffiness, the paper will be no deterrant, unfortunately.
I have some boys that need new homes. Two rams that have done their duty here and one wether who requires different management practices from the rest of my flock.
Winslow is a 2 year old registered Babydoll Southdown ram NABSSAR#13264 Codon 171 = RR
Winslow from the side
He is 23″ at the shoulder and off-white from a black dam. He saw limited duty his first year but sired 4 lambs, twins to an adult ewe (ram + ewe) and 2 single ewes to first-time moms. This year he has sired 5 ewe lambs by 3 ewes and counting (more to come as of 3/31/16). His first fleece tested at 26.0 microns. This year’s fleece has not been tested, but raw weight was 6#14oz. Has spunk, but after some correction he no longer challenges me.
Asking price for Winslow is $300 – would trade for an equally good black ram.
Moonshadow is a 3-4 year old Shetland wether.
Moonshadow, the Shetland.
He has a lovely silver coat that I have been shearing twice a year and it sells quickly. His browsing behavior makes him incompatible with my desire for the sheep to tend my very young orchard. He’s just being a Shetland, but… I’ll sort of miss him – he stays near me when I’m out in the market garden and eats the weeds I toss over the fence to him.
Asking price for Moonshadow is $150. And, no, I don’t want another!
Arlo is a yearling registered Finnsheep ram FSA#27723 Codon 171 = RR
He is brown with white HST markings. He was assigned 3 ewes this breeding season and only one has lambed to date, a single ewe to a first time mama. He is amazingly mellow and loves his ear and neck scritches. No aggression towards me or visitors at all. His breeding behavior is aggressive – he was servicing Tammy within 5 minutes of being placed in her pen.
Asking price for Arlo is $250 – would trade for another brown registered Finn of equal value.
Arlo back end
Arlo head shot
Arlo side view.