Notes from Windward: #58

Lambie takes Judge's Choice award

at the Klickitat County Fair

Lambie's fleece at center stage

After last year's success at the County Fair, this year I entered three fleeces instead of one! We have a mother-daughter team that are (as best we can tell) a cross between Lincoln, Hampshire and Karakul and have a very nice fleece in varying shades of gray.

I entered Hershey's fleece in the medium division and Kiss Kiss in the natural colored division. I was very pleased when both fleeces were awarded first place ribbons. Lambie Pie, our Polypay ram, won a first place ribbon in the fine fleece division (that's two years in a row), and was also chosen as Judge's Choice over all entries in four divisions!

Lambie Pie is a gem of a ram. Not only does he have a great personality, he has a wonderfully fine fleece with highly defined crimp and a soft hand. Polypay compare favorably to Merino, which is considered the cadillac' of fleeces. I had three people vying to buy his fleece!

As much as we appreciate Lambie, he's also getting on in years, so this year we kept a ram lamb for breeding. Rodman is out of Lambie and Harley, which resulted in an excellent, black fleece with soft, defined crimp and a well-muscled body structure. He should produce lambs good for both market sale and fleece production. We have high hopes of continuing our run of blue ribbons! Since handspinners prefer natural colored fleeces, that's the direction we're taking the flock. The "black" gene is recessive, but by breeding Roadman with all our natural colored ewes, those ewes will produce "black" lambs.

A justifiyably proud Joyce
Although marketing lambs for meat accounts for a majority of the income from the flock, fleece sales are now paying shearing costs and several hundred pounds of grain needed during a two-month period before and after breeding.

This year, we've timed breeding so birthing should take place in a three-week period starting mid-January. The ewe lambs were bred at eight months, so we'll have a few more births in mid to late April. Last year we fell one lamb short of a birthing, on average, two lambs for every ewe. Now we're hoping that this will be the year we surpass the 200% mark.

We'll keep you posted.

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