Handsome is

This ram lamb, born on Friday morning, is special for several reasons. First, he and his brother are the first lambs out of Pairodox Jill, a lovely two-year-old full shetland. Second, his markings are unusual for our flock which tends toward solid colors. And finally, this little guy is the 400th to be lambed here. For our small spinning flock this is something of an accomplishment of which Joanna and I are very proud. Building a breeding flock of any size takes lots of work, planning, and not a little luck. We had neither purebred ewes nor purebred rams for our first five breeding seasons and it wasn’t until 1999 that we lambed our first full-blood shetlands. The year after that we lambed five full shetlands and all were rams. Generally speaking, and in our opinion, intact males are a liability, both genetically and in terms of certain realities of flock management. Having too many intact males around during the breeding season makes any determination of paternity potentially difficult, if not impossible. If we cannot use a male for breeding purposes he is wethered. We grow our flock by accumulating females only, the number of breeding males is constant (usually two or, at most three) and these rotate biennially. Because of rigorous culling, one’s flock typically grows in fits and starts and in any particular year a flock can easily take six steps forward (by the introduction of six ewe lambs) and five steps back (by culling five older ewes from the group).  Like all things in life, maintaining and improving our flock has taken both patience and perseverance, words we have always lived by. Just two more ewes to lamb and the season will be over. We like to finish shearing before the beginning of May so we’re right on track. After a beautiful day here yesterday it’s raining today. Joanna always says that lowered atmospheric pressure brings the lambs on … we shall see.


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