Seven years ago today, the very first Boulderneigh Shetlands were born! Although I joined NASSA (the North American Shetland Sheep Association) in 2005 after committing to buy two ewes I met at the State Fair, it feels like Boulderneigh began when those first lambs arrived.
My first Shetlands arrived pregnant and woolly early in 2006. The first to lamb, on March 16, 2006, was my "plain grey" ewe. What a delightful surprise to get two spotted beauties! (I learned that those "plain grey" ones often start out flashy.) Both of them were ewes; what a great beginning!
|Boulderneigh Bella, back, and Boulderneigh Bailee, front|
Three weeks later, on April 7, my second ewe delivered a single ram lamb, white like herself.
|Boulderneigh Bobwhite (Bobby)|
The next Boulderneigh Shetlands were born in 2008. By that time I'd learned about polled genetics and finer fleeces, and had sought out two lambs from Arizona, a ram and a ewe. The button-scurred ram lamb, Valiant Braveheart, sired the 2008 crop – six lambs from three ewes.
|Boulderneigh Bluster on the left, Boulderneigh Blizz on the right|
In the fall of 2008 I had the opportunity to use a scurred gulmoget ram, so Braveheart had to sit out the breeding season. I was hoping to get some patterned lambs, and boy, did I! Four of the six 2009 lambs were gulmoget; a single ewe, ewe/ram twins, and one of a set of twin rams.
|Inky's twins, Blackberry and Bramble|
|Brava's twins, Beau and Boo|
|The singletons Barabas and Bronwen – first and last born of 2009|
|Braveheart's sons, from left, twins Bodhran & Banjo, singles Barry & Blake|
|Katie and the twins she brought along in utero, Byzantine and Bardas|
Fortunately, I found homes for five of those boys, three as fiber wethers, two as breeding rams. One, my handsome, homegrown Blake, stayed right here, having pretty much everything I'm breeding for – breed type; conformation; fine, soft fleece with excellent length; personality and a smooth-polled head (it remains to be seen if he's fully polled genetically, but I suspect that he is). Sadly, we lost his beautiful dam despite everything we tried when Blake was five weeks old. Even though I don't think her fatal illness was related, it is interesting to note that after Blake was born, she delivered two more, MUCH smaller stillborn lambs . . . one of them a tiny ewe. :-(
I gave Boulderneigh Blake two ewes that fall to see what he could produce, and was not disappointed in 2011's lamb crop.
|Boulderneigh Birdie, left, and Boulderneigh Bart|
I also had access to a fine-fleeced black katmoget ram in the fall of 2010, so I bred him to one ewe. She produced Boulderneigh's first – and so far only – katmoget, although I hope to get more in the future from Sarai.
Last year's three lambs were the result of test-breeding two yearling rams I had acquired to see if/what they could produce. Bunker and Cadbury each settled one ewe, the resulting lambs answering all the questions I had with the best answers possible.
|From left, Bing, Bittersweet and Bloom|
Bing told me that both parents carry solid, not just white and gulmoget. Bittersweet and Bloom told me Cadbury carries solid and Annabelle carries brown (not just the black demonstrated by Birdie and Bart the year before). And all four parents showed they are capable of producing offspring with excellent fleeces!
Well, in the case of Bunker, were capable. I still feel his loss keenly, as I do Blake's dam. But life on a "farm" is not all sunshine and daisies. There is manure and mud, disease and death. But the joy, beauty and valuable life lessons along the way make it all worthwhile. I am so blessed to live this life.
(I made the German chocolate cake yesterday to celebrate a dear friend's 98th birthday at church potluck today, not for Boulderneigh's birthday. :-)
That's all the 'lamb fix' there is in 2013 from . . .