December 11, 2011

Blue Dragon Progeny

One of the AI sires that I am using this year is Myfyrian B10 aka "Blue Dragon".  His owner, Matt Drummond has just sent some photos of Blue Dragon sons and daughters shown at two of the largest BFL shows in Britain.  The Blue Dragon son shown in the above photo was the Overall Champion at the Carlisle show and sold for £3500. 
Another Blue Dragon son out of the Cassington flock that sold for £2400

Champion Progeny Group of three females by Myfyrian Blue Dragon B10 Elite Plus at this year's Penrith Progeny Show.

Breeding and Feeding

Breeding is now completed and I have pulled my BFL rams and combined the two breeding groups.  Since we did not get the Gotland ram until mid November, I will leave him with his group of Gotland ewes and BFL mules for another couple of weeks just to make sure that everyone is settled.

Feeding has begun in earnest.  It is always a bit of a headache with three breeding groups in action but now I will combine the flock and see how the Premier One Sheep feeder that I recently purchased from the Woolgrowers in Lethbridge performs.  While square bales are easier for me to manage with small groups of sheep and I have had pretty good success  minimizing the amount of vegetable matter that gets into my fleeces if I feed on the ground, the amount of waste is staggering.   I have gone to the extra work of forking hay from a round bale into various feeders but this is a hassle and if anybody gets in the way it is an instant disaster.  We have been using the new feeder (six panels with four feeding holes in each) with a small group of ewes for the last few weeks.  Their fleeces are staying pretty clean (except for the neck wool which will be discarded anyway) and at least so far, they seem to be doing a better job of cleaning up the tougher bits.  I have my fingers crossed!

I will keep you posted!

November 18, 2011

Laproscopic AI Completed for 2011 ... the waiting begins!

Vet Brian McOnie from Creekside Animal Clinic and Vernon arrived in a snowstorm on the afternoon of November 7th to do our first Laproscopic AI of 12 Bluefaced Leicester ewes.  We used the semen from two rams imported from the UK and are looking forward to seeing the results of the process in April!

The ram above is Myfyrian B10 also known as Blue Dragon.  He has already been identified as an Elite Plus sire in the UK.

And this very handsome lad is Grugoer B1 - from the Grugoer flock in Wales.

KEEP your fingers (toes and other body parts) crossed for April 2012 lambs from both of these sires!

The Gotlands have arrived!

We have just gotten back from our trip to Oregon where we were finally able to pick up the animals that we had selected in June from breeders Martin and Joy Dally of Lebanon and Susie and Dan Wilson of Canby.  I think that Mike and I have the first flock of Gotlands in Canada - isn't that cool!

November is not the best time to pick up animals and the trip down was horrific.  Before we even got close to the summit of the Coquillhalla Highway the snow was falling and conditions quickly deteriorated.  Traffic slowed to a crawl as vehicles repeatedly merged into a single lane to sneak past the big trucks and cars with summer tires!!!  It was white knuckle driving at its most difficult and we were thankful for Mike's driving skill and good winter tires on the truck.  Snow turned to rain just outside of Hope and we heaved a sigh of relief only to find ourselves lined up at the border for two hours waiting to get through to Sumas.

Our trip home was less eventful and the sheep arrived seeming no worse for wear after their two day journey in the stock trailer.  They have settled in and are doing very nicely.  I have not had a chance to take photos but will do so shortly and post them here!

September 16, 2011

September Update

I am not sure where August went - we went from the long weekend in August to the long weekend in September in a heartbeat!  Already it is the middle of September and I am busy trying to stay on top of requests for breeding stock, meat orders for market lambs and all of the rest.

There are still one or two ewe lambs from the 2011 crop that are available for sale.  I have selected my replacements and have supplied the needs of most folks on my waiting list.  Mike is encouraging me to keep my numbers in check and so I am trying to convince myself to sell two of my yearling ewes as well.  Both had lambs this spring and did a good job of nursing and mothering them.  Both yearlings have done well on grass this summer and are looking good!

Ram sales are picking up and several are spoken for, but there are still some excellent ram prospects available for fall breeding.  I an thinking about selling both of the herdsires that I used last year.... Bitterroot Carter is an AI son of the Carryhouse R1 E+ ram and I used him on my North Country Cheviot ewes and got some really nice mule lambs.  Kite Knighton is an AI son of the Gigrin Red Kite ram out of a ewe owned by Kelly Ward which means that his bloodlines are different from those of many BFL's available in Canada.

 I have one coloured ram lamb for sale and he is a total outcross coming from Jared Lloyd of Jehovah-Jirah in Colorado.  He has retained his dark colour and is looking great.  He goes back to Beeston Blackmoor - who is his great, grandfather and is out of a ewe with Ward and Starkey breeding.

The lamb in the center is a son of the Kite Knighton ram.  He is showing real promise.  I think his tag number is 250 making him a son a ewe that I purchased from Judy Colvin - Bitterroot Lavelle. 

 Call for details if you are interested - more photos coming in the near future.

PS.  I did shear my market lambs before shipping them and will have a small number of BFL lamb fleeces and BFL x NCC fleeces available in the near future.  Fleeces will be small ( 2-3 lbs) after skirting.  These represent about 5 months of fleece growth so staples are about 2.5 - 3 " in length but exceptionally fine.  If you are interested, send me an email and I will add you to my list.   Prices will start at $12/lb.

July 18, 2011

2011 EWE Lamb Update

I have promised to post photos and a sales list for folks who are interested in getting in to the breed and I AM working on that as we speak.  Crappy weather has really hindered the photography but I do have some photos that were taken recently of my ewe lambs to share.

While they are doing what sheep need to be doing in order to grow, I sure wish that I could pictures of them with their heads up!  I will keep trying ....

A black patterned single ewe lamb from Bitterroot Tiffy out of Kite Knighton - isn't she a striking little lady?

One of the ewe lambs from Bitterroot Tia who was bred to Judy Colvin's Bitterroot Enoch ram (an AI son of Carryhouse out of a Koenig Elizabeth daughter.)

One of twin ewe lambs from Ranfurly Maeve out of Kite Knighton, as AI son of Gigrin Red Kite.

One of Bitterroot Silvie's triplets out of Autumn Hills Finnegan.

Gotlands coming to Ranfurly Farm!

Mike has been bitten by the sheep bug also.  He has had his eye on some Gotland sheep since our first introduction to them in June of 2009 and has finally decided that he is going to introduce them to Canada in November of 2011.  

 The photo to the left shows a group of rams.  More information and photos are available on the American Gotland Breeders Association website. 

I am still totally committed to my BFL's and the lovely fleeces that they produce, but I have to say that the Gotland fleeces that I seen are pretty amazing also.  Originally from the island of Gotland (off the Denmark coast), The breed was first established by the Vikings with Karakul and Romanov sheep.  Modern Gotland sheep have been developed in Sweden since the 1920's through controlled breeding and intensive selection, producing a true multipurpose long wool sheep, yielding good flavored close-grained meat, furskins and soft, silky, lustrous fleece. 

According to the website, and confirmed by breeders we have met, Gotlands are easy to lamb, prolific, milky and very motherly. Their lambs are active and fast growing form birth. These qualities, together with their hardy and adaptive nature, also make the Gotland half-bred ewe suitable for extensive/rough grazing commercial systems.
In 2003, the process of Laproscopic AI was used to introduce Gotlands to the US and since then they have become extremely popular,  both as a fibre animal and also as a multipurpose, medium sized sheep producing growthy and vigorous lambs with good carcass qualities.

Gotlands in the US are being bred up from  Bluefaced Leicesters, Border Leicesters, Finnish Landrace and Icelandic sheep.  When the % of Gotland reaches 75% in females and 87% in males, sheep are registered.  Sheep of lower percentage Gotland are recorded prior to that point.

We are hoping to introduce Canadian Sheep Breeders to Gotland sheep this fall when we bring in a small group from the states.

Black Sheep Gathering - Eugene Oregon June 23-25th

I have had endless inquiries from spinners who are looking for naturally coloured BFL fleeces.  Last spring, I had no coloured lambs at all and so have not been able to respond to these requests.  I will be using semen from a coloured ram that we have imported from the UK this fall, but thought that it would be a good idea to have a coloured ram as a back up. 

These are two of the four ram lambs that Mike and I brought home with us from Oregon.  These boys are from Jared Lloyd's flock in Colorado.  They are sons of a ram he bought from Kelly Ward last year that goes back to Beeston Blackmoor / Gigrin Rhayder daughter on the sire side and come from three of his stongest female lines on the dam side.  I also brought home one of Robina's coloured ram lambs - he is also out of Kelly's Moorson ram and is out of a Silvie daughter. Silvie has an incredible production record with at least two sets of triplets and two sets of quadruplets to her credit! 

We are going to watch these boys mature over the summer and will select two to keep and two to sell in the fall!  If you are interested in coloured ram lamb, let me know - I don't think they will last very long at all.

Spinner's Delight Award at the Lower Mainland Fleece Show and Sale

Hi folks,

I can't believe that I have not been in contact since April as I am sure that I posted a note about my day at the Fleece Show in Langley on June 4th.  One of the three BFL fleeces that I took to the sale was given the "Spinner's Delight" award by the judges and the fleeces evaporated off the sale tables in minutes.  My sister in law, Cathie came with me as I had set up a vendor table and we had a wonderful day meeting other fibre enthusiasts and selling some of the rovings and dyed BFL locks that I took down with me.

Many people are still unfamiliar with Bluefaced Leicester fiber and it is always fun to show them how soft and lustrous it is.  It is my very favorite fibre to spin with and I find that more and more folks agree with me.  Once you are hooked, you are hooked for the long term.

Of special significance for me is the fact that the award is named after one of the Shuswap Spinners and Weavers Guild members, Judith Glibbery. She and her husband made a huge contribution to sheep and fleece production during their tenure in the Lower Mainland and dedicating the award to them was intended to recognise their involvement.  It certainly made winning this particular award extra meaningful for me!

April 25, 2011

Lambs, Lambs, Lambs!

Dear Friends,

Three more ewes to go and then we will be finished lambing for the year.  I apologize for being so slow with photos this spring, but life is always busy and there never seem to be enough hours in the day.  The 5 bred ewes that I bought from Judy Colvin of Bitterroot Ranch in Montana in mid December lambed ahead of my own flock.

I was not as well prepared as I thought and certainly did not expect to have two sets of triplets and 3 sets of twins in a five day period ... it was a heck of a start to the season.    The pictures below were taken around March 18th - you should see how big this group of lambs are now!  I will try and get some snapshots later on today if the rain holds off. 

Such curiosity!
 Mike has turned one of his sows and her piglets in with these ewes and lambs - everyone seems to be getting along just fine and it is such a hoot to watch piglets and lambs interacting with each other and with Felix - the sheep cat!

January 11, 2011

2011 has arrived.

Belated Happy New Year from Ranfurly Farm.  As you can see, winter has us in its grip and we have quite a bit of snow on the ground.  Temperatures have stayed between -10 ish and 0 for the most part so we have little to complain about and in fact are enjoying the change from summer's frantic pace. 

If you would like to check out current photos of the yearling rams, you can click on the Ranfurly Rams page.  It has taken a number of attempts to get pictures that are postable but I think that these will show the difference between last summer's shots at the bottom of the page and the present reasonably well!  

We are busily feeding and monitoring sheep at the moment.  Breeding seemed to go quite smoothly and I am quite excited about the prospect of lambs this spring from a son of Gigrin Red Kite named Kite Knighton that I purchased from Kelly Ward and brought home in early November.  The young lad was put immediately to work and seemed to know what he was supposed to be doing so fingers are crossed!