Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Flock goals - and getting there

Several shepherds' blogs have featured their flock goals recently. How's that saying go? "Aim for nothing and you'll achieve it"? Yes, goals are important, and I have some flock goals of my own. They are simple, really. My long-term goal is to have a friendly flock of fully polled Shetlands with good conformations and little fluke tails covered with consistently fine, lustrous fleece, including on the poll and cheeks, and a market for them. The questions are: how long will it take to reach that goal, and what steps must I take to get there?

In just two years I think I've taken a big step towards a fully polled flock. My ram, and the ram I used last fall, are both half-polls, as are for sure one and possibly all four of my ewes. As for conformation, I own no perfect sheep yet. To my eye, Braveheart and Butter come closest; Butter could be a bit wider through the chest and some would say both could have longer toplines (I think they are beautifully proportioned). I think the offspring of both will contribute towards my conformation goals (and they have perfect little Shetland tails). The others all have traits to contribute as well.

As a spinner, I personally prefer a longer staple with lots of luster and a silky hand. I plan to harvest samples this spring from every sheep for micron testing, and will factor in the results along with the characteristics I appreciate. Braveheart is VERY consistent from front to back and has very good length in a single coat; I need to see offspring of his from each of my ewes to see how they cross. (Dinah is the only ewe I retained who has produced lambs from Braveheart, and I was pleased with her twins. The ewe lamb went to Alaska, and the ram lamb is my wether Browning.)

This spring's lambs will be from Franjean. Ideally, I would keep all his likely half-poll and full-poll lambs for at least a year or two and evaluate them compared to next year's Braveheart crop, keeping the best from each ram to cross with each other to continue towards my goals. That, however, will not happen; I have neither the space nor the agreement of my husband to expand my flock like that. They are my sheep, but this is our property, our time, and our family and I want to be the kind of partner I want to have. So I will work towards my goals as I can fit them into happy co-existence with the man I love on our little plot of paradise.

Yesterday Shannon at Kenleigh Acres sent me a Lemonade Stand award, for "blogs that show gratitude or great attitude or both” (I've added it over there at the right side of the blog). It always feels nice when someone gives me a blog award (They like me! They really like me!), but this one is especially meaningful. I do strive to recognize and appreciate the abundant blessings God gives me each day (including my blogpals!), and I'm glad it shows. In so many ways I fall short of living the gifts of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith), but as the bumper sticker says, "Be patient; God isn't finished with me yet." Kinda like my flock goals....

With gratitude from . . .


A :-) said...

Sounds like things are moving along with the sheep in your corner of the world :-) And yes, I agree, Brigid is a perfect addition to the list of B names! Yay! Maybe some will be born on my birthday again and you can use Brigid then :-D Isn't Browning of of my B-Boys from last year? Can't help but feel proprietary over those born on my birthday ;-D

Theresa said...

Good goals, Michelle! In the end, the goal IS the attitude. So, you are a lot farther along than you think you are!