Decisions- Part 1

          Holy cow! I can't believe it's 2016 already. I missed the ball drop again this year. Er, at least I think I did. Unlike last year wherein I stood freezing out in the cold by a small bonfire as an old acquaintance, whose invitation to his household get-together I had accepted somewhat out of pity (knowing most people would not show up to his party), smoked a joint (I did not join him- never smoked, don't plan to), this year (what a contrast) I unfortunately had one too many drinks downtown, and don't remember the ball dropping, as well as the majority of my night. As a result, this is about the only day (1/4/16) since that I have felt 100% healthy. On the brightside of things, this year has only gotten better, and I've come away with a pretty clear (for the sake of my liver, my wallet, and reputation!) New Year's Resolution. 
       Decisions. On my farm page on Facebook, I talk about decisions quite a bit, mainly those regarding the future of my flock. So, as I approach the mark of year number eight for my flock, I thought I would take some time to review how my flock has changed over the years, what decisions I've made over the years, and how I have grown with experience as a shepherd and as a person as a result of these decisions. Strap in, this may be my longest blog post yet.
       My adventure with sheep began in 2005. For my younger sister Lena's birthday (4/20), my dad decided on a whim to get her a pet lamb (I think actually might have been something to do with our 20-some year old horse, "Sparky" having to be put down around his time, now that I think on it). My older sister, Kristen, who had always wanted a lamb as a child was not amused. April surprisingly lived, I guess it would have been two years, with my giant panda bear stuffed animal in our barn/ in an outside pen, with zero of us having any previous sheep experience, until 2 weeks prior to Christmas of '06 until one of us in our family fed her a bunch of tomatoes and slop and she died. I mention Christmas, because I was the only one that had noticed that she had died throughout those entire two weeks, until I asked my dad on Christmas Day if he or Lena had fed April in awhile. Dark times.
April and I, coming home from picking her up. She pooped on me.
          Lesson learned? Nope. My dad felt bad for Lena, so the following summer, he drove over and purchased two sheep from my neighbor, Dan Donnelly, owner of Farview Farms, former NASSA Flock #1402. Thus began my experience with Shetlands.

Farview Farm Mike (Sheltering Pines Darius x Sheltering Pines Licorice) and Farview Farm Angelina (Sheltering Pines Darius x Sheltering Pines Gwenhwyfach).
   
Mike as a two-year-old.
     Now, I had pitied April (that giant stuffed panda bear that I had given to her was one of my favorite things when I was younger), and definitely did not want the same fate to occur to Mike and Angelina, so I took over caring for them. Things went alright, and the next spring (2009), they produced Shawn, our first Shetland lamb.
Lena remembers we have sheep.
     Mike had pretty much turned into the thing we showed all our friends and cousins when we were bored, and also the embodiment of my childhood nightmares of our neighbor's goat, Bucky.
Mad Mike destroys a wall, then later tries to kill my toddler sister, Ditte.

    Fast forward to the summer of that year, and I realized that when fall comes around, Mike and Angelina would be going in with each other, but I needed an ewe for Shawn, because...well, I don't remember what my reasoning was. Either way, I needed new genetics because Mike and Angelina were half-siblings and we were all weirded out by inbreeding. So, I began reading Shetland Sheep blogs, and I remember contacting Corrine Rasso, Stephen Rouse, Mike & Heather Ludlam, and Zack & Holly Shaltz. What I was looking for were colors besides black and brown, and I remember that I really liked the spotting that Corrine had, but Corrine was in Iowa (wherever that was), and I think it was she directed who me to the breeders in Michigan. However, the Ludlam's prices were really high at the time, and all I had in my bank account was what I had made working as ball-boy and weeding onion fields for Dell Pike of Saranac, MI (who unbeknownst to me at the time, was just getting into Romeldale/ CVM genetics and helping discover the "blue patterns" in that breed). Stephen was selling some older ewes, lambs, and ewes along with their lambs. I remember being totally fascinated by what I saw on his old (now deleted) website (the one that featured Sheltering Pines Snowy and Sheltering Pines Hildegard at the bottom) and on his blog, and I was really close to buying Sheltering Pines Isidora and her 2009 twin lambs (ram and ewe), but wasn't especially keen on doubling my flock size, I don't think (kicking myself in the foot now, looking at their pedigrees), plus Stephen was using all these words like "registered", "sire", "dam", "NASSA" and "pedigree", and I wasn't sure what all that meant, and I just wanted a normal Shetland Sheep. He did have some non-registered animals he would have sold me for $125.00, but they were black and brown, and that's not what I was looking for. So, I went with Zack Shaltz of Boyne City, who was offering non-registered lambs of various colors for $125.00 and registered animals of various colors for $150.00. I chose a white, non-registered ewe lamb, which I named Louise, after Lake Louise (a lake in Boyne Falls that my sister's in-laws have a cottage on, that we stayed at for the weekend). Thus started my trend of named Shaltz Farm descendants with L names.
Zack Shaltz, Louise, and my adolescent self.
Shaltz Farm Louise B42 (Lugthart Fameflower AI x W17 (Shaltz farm Dusty x Shaltz Farm Gloria))
  I had spent the fall and winter on the Shetland Sheep Forum and the Public Version of the NASSA Database studying pedigrees and genetics and had become a bit obsessive with Sheltering Pines Darius (Mike and Angelina's sire), and was super happy when Mike and Angelina had produced two very Darius-like rams. Mike had been slaughtered prior to their birth, for previously mentioned reasons, and also Judi Lehrhaupt and I didn't think that he was exactly fit for registration because of face-tight horns.
Sheltering Pines Darius
Reuben and Remnar
Reuben all grown up.

Fantasti-fleece Remnar all grown up.

Renmar all grown up.
    Around this time, I sent in an application for NASSA Membership (although I don't think I officially became a member until fall). Soon, I learned that the majority of my flock was unregisterable, Angelina being the only one that I was able to have registered. This was also when I learned that Darius had died in 2008 as the result of tumor on his spine, and so I was feeling some feels, and wanted to preserve Darius' line (and Stephen's work with spotting). Also, for some reason I was convinced that yuglet flecket spotting with the accompanying black spot on the mouth was being bred out by top breeders (shaking my head currently). I don't know what I was thinking with all this, but I full-on searched the pedigrees for remaining Darius offspring, and landed upon Whispering Pines Captain Kidd, son of Sheltering Pines Cihat (Sheltering Pines Darius x Wind River Jubilee) and Sheltering Pines Cor de Nuit (Underhill Thelonius Monk x Justalit'l Lana), owned by Rich and Jennifer Johnson.
Sheltering Pines Cihat
Whispering Pines Captain Kidd

     After talking with Rich, he pretty much told me it would be illogical to drive all the way out to New York to get a Darius grandson, when any offspring I would produce out of my Darius daughter, would be Darius grandchildren, and that I should just get a spotted ram from someone near me and breed it to Angelina, and also that Darius didn't really have that fine of wool, and that Stephen Rouse or Karen Valley would probably have something much finer than Captain Kidd. That made sense. Dreams crushed, I searched around, and found out that Karen Valley did have a yuglet flecket ram lamb for sale, and I quickly inquired. She said it was half-polled, and I was like, "It's cool, Captain Kidd was half-polled, too", not entirely knowing what that meant, despite hearing about it on Nancy Krohn's and Juliann Budde's blogs. So we worked it out that we could meet at the Michigan Fiber Fiesta in my hometown, so that I could buy him, because I had much more money now to spend on things, I was working a max of 5 hours a week at Burger King!

Wintertime Grasshopper and Wintertime Moth (Sheltering Pines Bug x V Creek Princess Buttercup)
Moth, at the end of summer.
Moth's fleece, midside.
      Later that spring, Shawn and Louise produced a white ram lamb and stillborn moorit ewe (underdeveloped). Eight days later, Louise died due to bloat. That fall, we had a friend slaughter Shawn.




Shawn as a yearling.

Louise and newborn Linus.

 
Linus, myself, and all my teen angst.



Linus and all my angst following me everywhere.


Linus, all grown up.



    Not too long after getting Moth, I wanted to have more registered sheep. So, from Karen Valley, I purchased Whistlestop 0427 AI (Drum Ram x Whistlestop 0104 AI) and Wintersky Secondhand Rose (Winterseky Skater Boy x Bono Creek Carnation), and from Dan Donnelly, I would purchase Farview Farm Rosie (Wintertime Blues AI x Sheltering Pines Gwenhwyfach).
"Izzy"
Rose
Rosie

         During breeding season, I had Moth and his girls in one pen, and Linus and Remnar in another. Linus and Moth constantly butted a iron panel to get to each other, and Moth ended up dying as a result. It was a sad day for me. As a replacement, I purchased Sheltering Pines Blanc De Riz (Wintertime Fudge x Sheltering Pines Catherine) from Stephen. Blanc died not long after from god only knows, and then a fellow breeder, Frank Welling, gifted us Shaltz Farm Katie (Lugthart Fameflower AI x El-Jireh's Bella), though she had been bred to one of Frank's rams.
Blanc
Katie
          That brings us up to Spring 2011. Which, with what I had at this point, prior to lambing, I would have had the makings of a very nice 1927 Standard flock. I had no rams, but five very nice ewes, four of which were pregnant by two very fine rams.

                                                To be continued.....

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