kadence blevins

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since Dec 01, 2012
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Recent posts by kadence blevins

None of my sheep will lift their feet off the ground any higher than what it takes to walk lol. But yes some sheep are a lot more jump-happy but it tends to depend on where you get them. I know someone who has 3 strand electric for her sheep and mostly they are shetlands.
I would like to add that different breeds of sheep have different standards of crimp. A longwool should have lovely curls and waves. A merino should not.
A shetland can have three different styles of fleece, and there is a *wide* variety of crimp and texture among that.. Sometimes even on a single animal..
1 year ago

stephen lowe wrote:
Kris, I was given to understand that these sheep didn't need to be sheered but could be rooed or basically plucked as they naturally shed. Is this not the case?

Not all sheep of any breed will roo. Generally it is more common in certain breeds than in others, but even within the breed it is highly variable. Some people breed for animals that do roo, some people breed for animals that do not roo. You will have to be able to go out many times in the spring and pull wool from them if they roo. It almost never all comes off without help from all that I have seen and read. And some animals will only roo partially and still need shorn the rest of it. No matter what I would definitely suggest having some phone numbers on hand for someone that can come shear them if needed anyways.

I would highly suggest having a look at fibershed. They started in California. I will link the producer directory but the whole site is great. http://www.fibershed.com/producer-directory/

Shetlands and Icelandics are great heritage breeds. They aren't great for everyone. They aren't great for all purposes. They are smaller and generally more lanky in build than most modern breeds. You will not be able to compete with pound of gain against other breeds. However these breeds do generally need less help lambing, less fuss over the year, and will do great on pasture alone (if you can support it with your land and number of animals).

I follow several breed specific facebook groups and one of the Icelandic sheep groups a while back was talking about using rams over commercial breed flocks for terminal meat lambs. One person had a picture of a Suffolk x Icelandic that was 140lbs at 4 months old with no grain. Something like this seems like it will be more to your goals.

I would suggest seeing if you can make farm visits to the places you found near you. Have a list of questions. Ask about when they breed and lamb,.. when they shear,.. what traits they breed for,.. what they feed through different times of the year (pasture, grains/mix, minerals, hay,..)....
I have found lovely animals that I really wanted to come home with and did not because the animals were raised in a very "coddled" fashion and would not add well to my standards of hardiness.
I am going to be saying a lot here. None of this is meant to judge or be mean to anyone. The following response is simply my knowledge-base and many opinions which I try to differentiate. 

Travis Johnson wrote:In a perfect world it would all be so seamless: milk, meat and wool, but it is not that simple.  Sheep breeds that are excellent for meat have really poor milk production, and I am talking like half of what the dairy breeds are. Sadly the dairy breeds make poor meat sheep because they really grow slow and are smallish in size, and make rather poor wool. And of course great wool means less protein since it makes the wool brittle, which is not the ideal way to raise sheep for slaughter.
Milk sheep breeds produce perfectly usable good wool, just not the same wool as a merino. Meat sheep breeds produce perfectly usable good wool, just not the same as a merino. Merino is a breed that is currently only great at super fine wool and nothing else. AND. Merino wool isn't thee only wool or thee most perfect wool. Actually I really hate merino wool for many reasons. The main thing is that all sheep breeds are good at different things and all wools are good at different things.
As with the OP, herein lies the issue of educating people. Merino isn't the god of all wool. Just like angus isn't the god of all beef. And since I live in a rural area and right now every black cow, calf, heifer, steer, or bull that passes through the local auction is trying to be passed off as black angus.. and almost none of them have any worthwhile meat type.. and they all are black so the price will double or more what any other cow sells for just for that. It is really hard to educate people.
As to protein for meat vs wool what you state is not correct at all for wool. Sheep all need the same thing to thrive and do their best at whatever it is they are doing, be that making milk, meat, wool, or all three. If a sheep isn't getting enough of something their health will decline and they will not produce well no matter what the purpose of production. Be it protein or minerals or any number of things. That said, some breeds are much better at doing better on lesser feed. This is only after many generations of breeding and mostly found in the heritage breeds which are now used more for wool or small farm stock than for large production like in the breeds hay-days. That doesn't mean they can't be great producers.

raven ranson wrote: But this method involves culling and the thought experiment is how to raise sheep for wool without them going for meat.
In short my answer to this is, there isn't any reason **other than human delicacy or anthropomorphizing** to not eat/sell at least a portion of a flock, or really any livestock.
In detail here is my reasoning:
1) you cannot make the population better without removing the unwanted. If I want all superfine wool merinos I cannot leave the higher micron testing sheep with the flock. They will reproduce along with the flock and bring down the micron of the flock as a whole by having more and by letting them breed with the finer animals. From what I read and have seen so far in person when breeding sheep the wool will always be of a micron on the coarser side of the parentage. If I breed a fine wool to a medium wool I will have lambs that are finer than the medium wool parent but definitely not as fine as the fine wool parent. I have to remove the coarser wools to get a finer wool flock.
2) there is always undesirables to weed out. No matter what the cause for an animal being undesirable. This could be animals that produce poorly, that have fault in type, that are not as hardy, that have serious genetic conditions,...
3) you have to have at least minimal reproducing to keep up your stock numbers for wool production. Even if this is kept in very careful balance there will always be that year you have 13 ram lambs and 4 ewe lambs or vice versa. Even if you keep a predominately wool wether flock with just enough ewes to keep up numbers, you have to realize animals will all age and their production changes with age, and what you will do with the sheep when they become old gummers and can no longer eat. Very very very few people are willing to keep every animal until it may be 15 or 18 years old and dies of old age. On top of the fact that by that time the animal is becoming a cost in money and time and either not producing or producing wool that is of much lesser value or even use.

raven ranson wrote: Increasing the value of the wool. Adding value to the wool.
Increasing and adding to the value of wool depends entirely on the consumer you are marketing to and what you are marketing. This also plays ALOT on the education of the consumer.
Are you marketing raw fleeces? Are you gearing toward handspinners who want cleaner fleeces to hand process? Are you marketing to handspinners who want to buy multiple fleeces to be milled into roving? That in itself is two very different marketing goals, and I say that as a buyer and a seller. Are you willing to pay more for a better shearer/shearers? Are you willing to pay more to have someone with knowledge skirt and/or pick your fleeces? Are you willing to buy and put in all the extra work to coat at least some of the best fleece sheep? All of the last three would increase the value of fleeces to a handspinner looking at a raw fleece.
Are you marketing milled rovings or yarns? Are you skirting and washing the fleeces or paying the mill to do that? Or are you paying to work for you to do that? Are you dyeing the rovings or yarns? Are you marketing the yarns to indie dyers as one of their yarn bases? Do you even know that indie dyers are a thing to be marketed to?
How much time and money are you willing to invest in making and marketing value? And are you adding in this to your costs to pay yourself or to pay someone to do it for you?

Travis Johnson wrote: Another underutilized resource I think is lanolin.
Not without boiling the wool. Making the wool unusable other than compost. The best I can stretch the idea is that you would have to process the wool into cloth wholly in the raw (shearing to fabric off the loom without having washed or wet the wool) and then using the fabric to carefully make a boiled wool felt to be made into coats. This of course would not happen at scale period because large scale wool processing has to have clean wool. This would have to be done strictly on cottage scale and would have quite a hefty price tag on the resulting fabric and/or coat.

I have several more points I would like to make about my own price points both for my sheep and my fiber/spinning/crafting but it needs more thought and I currently need more sleep. So I will leave this for now.
1 year ago
You have 1 ewe lamb and 1 ram lamb, correct? Why not just band/wether the ram lamb? You won't have to worry about him breeding and you don't have to worry about when/where/how he will go however things happen in the future.

That said. There is really no problem at all with that line breeding. Really it isn't much line breeding at all. Unless your sheep have a certain quality that is harmful or you want to get away from. The biggest thing to remember about line breeding is you have to know how to judge you animals and be ok that you may have to scrap animals (culling however you want/need to) that don't make the cut.
Line breeding doubles up on the genetics since the animals are related to whatever degree they may be. So if they have bad traits or traits you don't like/want they will be much more likely to show up. Either way you look at it you can keep the good animals and cull the bad.. Or you know what "the bad" is that can pop up and breed away from that when you bring in other animals.

If you left them to themselves they wouldn't care jack-crap about relations. They would breed. Weak animals would not make it. Stronger animals would make it.
When line breeding the only difference from this is your ability to cull toward your own goals and selective breeding within the line. But the weak have to be removed in order for the strong to continue and be worth anything.
you can buy copper bolus for dosing the goats and just feed everyone the same thing otherwise.
1 year ago
Cant wait to see more!
For those of us who need/want to brush up the "year without a summer" 1816.. there is some good info on this wiki page. a good bit on the effect in North America.

and something I didn't know (or didn't remember) is that along with the one volcano eruption that gets talked about there were several other large and notable eruptions that year. likely combining and exaggerating the whole thing.

2 years ago
I am glad to see this here and look forward to hearing people's thoughts.

However I also offer up another possibility. The earth seems to always move in seasons and cycles. What if the seasons and their variance from year to year is part of a much bigger cycle that we haven't been around long enough to see the whole thing yet? So here is my nerd-girl but far from being a scientist theory:
The little ice age began with years without a summer. The lowest of a cooling period. What has been happening since is a gradual warming period. The next logical point of the cycle is the height of a warming period.. And what I think will likely happen at that time is years without a winter.
A 365 day cycle is something we have seen and learned from for years. What if this cycle happens on a scale of centuries with higher highs and lower lows than the yearly cycle?
For anyone who is paying attention to the recent years weather patterns we have been getting rather shoddy winter weather with a couple good ones (cold and snow fall appropriate to each area) sprinkled in every couple years.

I would be very curious to hear peoples thoughts on this as well. There are many places already trying to deal with lack of snowfall or rainfall in the seasons where you usually get it in those areas. I know I worry about it here and worry more that I'm not farther ahead with things as I want to be and will need to be in the event of emergency or long term problems such as summer-less or winter-less years.

Just found this video that seems to agree somewhat with my theory. (its starts with a movie scene, the science comes though give it a moment)
2 years ago

It has been more hot and more dry than 'average' this year. I am happily listening to the downpour on the metal roof as I sit here comfy, clean, and content knowing the plants are soaking up the water.

Imagining how in future years when this happens my farm will be a less hot and less dry microclimate and when the rain finally comes the swales will be ready to hold the water on and in the land.