It occurred to me as I went to write this post, that I never updated you on how we did at the Big E! If you've been following our facebook page, you'll know that we won Best Fleeced Natural Colored Lincoln for the second year in a row! This year is was an especially awesome honor because it was the National show. We were very excited. Check out the picture below of Benny, our yearling ram. He is a bit (major understatement) feisty and never wants to set up, so sorry for the poor example of confirmation!
Now, onto our last show of the year. We just returned this evening from the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. It is our last show of the year, and one of our favorites. The weather is always beautiful with the leaves changing and crisp weather (much nicer than showing in humid July!). We brought 6 sheep this year and had fun as usual. This show is always so nice because the festival goers are always so interested in what you are doing and ask a lot of good questions. Education is one of my favorite parts about raising Lincolns and going to shows, so I particularly enjoy talking to people.
We did fairly well in the show this year, not first, but not last either! We got second in the pair of ewe lambs, and third overall in the flock which was excellent! This show is always challenging because they show by type of wool instead of breed, so we show against Romneys, Border Leisters, etc.
The thing we did best with this weekend is wool sales! Sold both of our pelts, a couple blankets, and lots of roving and yarn. We definitely will be placing more orders for yarn, blankets, and maybe even socks (I'll keep you posted on that!). If you would like a blanket, speak now while we still have them in stock!
Next up on our farm schedule... shearing in December and lambing in Jan./Feb.! Winter is on its way.
The Big E and the National Lincoln Show are approaching quickly! Dad got all 8 sheep washed last week, and Jenny and I worked on fitting them this Sunday. I don't get to the fair until Friday evening and with the show starting first thing Saturday morning at 8am, we figured we'd start the fitting process at home. It actually was much nicer than fitting at the show with people all around and the sheep nervous! The only observers we had were our chickens who really weren't too interested in what we were doing. We got their bellies sheared (which helps them look taller and longer), and quite a bit of trimming done. We will still have to do some final trimming the morning of the show, but the hardest parts are out of the way. Sorry about the picture quality below... we only had a cell phone out in the barn with us.
Overall, I'm very pleased with how the flock we are taking looks, and I am looking forward to seeing how we'll do this weekend!
And if you won't be in Massachusetts like us this weekend, you should attend the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival in Hemlock, NY!
This past weekend was the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, as I posted about last time. It is hands-down my favorite weekend of the year. We get to see what everyone else's lambs look like, get to see friends we haven't seen since last fall (or even last year at this show), and just have fun! When I started showing, the shows made me nervous, but I've learned to just relax and have fun with my sheep.
We placed about middle of the pack, which is about where we usually are. Our yearling ewes were small this year for whatever reason, and due to our poor lambing season, our ewe lambs were born close to the show cutoff and were small as well. Our yearling ram, Ben, didn't do as well as I had hoped because he was the tallest, longest ram in the ring. But I'm still proud of him and there's always next year! Over the years I've learned that it's not about where you place (that part is totally up to the judge, and would change from one judge to another), as long as you are happy with what your sheep look like.
I had the pleasure this weekend of helping Brian Larson, the president of the National Lincoln Breeders Association, prepare his sheep and show. Over the last several years, he has been experimenting with artificial insemination (AI) in his Lincolns. Currently, the success rate for our breed (and most sheep breeds actually) is only about 30-40%, due to sheep's small and complex reproductive system. The process is actually surgical. The only breed of sheep that has successfully been doing AI is the Icelandic breed. This breed was isolated on the island of Iceland for so long that their reproductive systems have evolved differently, and therefore vaginal AI has a 60-80% success rate! Because the process in Lincolns is surgical and does not have a good success rate, it is fairly expensive and not many people have been experimenting with it yet in our breed.
The differences that Brian has seen in his AI breed are amazing! The semen he has been using has come from rams in the UK. Here in the U.S. we have a "bigger is better" mentality that definitely comes out in our animal breeding. American Lincolns are much taller and thinner throughout the shoulders; they have lost the "stockiness" of the British sheep. Also through our breeding, we have lost much of the wool's ability to create locks. This is hard to see without comparing his AI sheep to American sheep, and without an understanding of wool. The three AI sheep that he brought to the show were definitely shorter to the ground, but extremely robust throughout the shoulders. Brian shows in full fleece, meaning the yearlings have not been shorn in about a year, but due to their improved wool quality and his clean conditions, the wool is beautiful! He also said that his AI sheep have a much different temperament than American sheep; they are much more curious and laid back.... I guess similar to the Brits themselves!
While it is an expensive process, he has been seeing some great results and ended up winning Supreme Champion Ram. (For those of you non-sheep showing people, they choose a top ram and ewe from each breed, and then all the breeds together compete for "best of the best"). Hopefully in the future, I'll have the time and ability to also experiment with this, but in the meantime there's other things I need to work on breeding into my flock!
Thanks to Brian for allowing me to help show and for all the knowledge you've passed onto me over the years!
It's time again for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival! It's of our family's favorite times of the year and we look forward to seeing how our lambs look compared to everyone else, and seeing friends we haven't seen since last fall (or last year's show!). Unfortunately, our sheep aren't looking as good this year as we always hope, but you never know!
If you're in the area, the show is held at the Howard County Fairgrounds, West Friendship, MD.
Entry to the fairgrounds is free and goes Saturday 9-6, Sunday 9-5.
Look for our red sign with the apples and leaves around it in the big main sheep barn next to the show ring!
Emmaline Long, main owner of Orchard View Farm, has a passion for Lincoln sheep and loves educating others about her breed and farm, She currently serves as the Vice President of the National Lincoln Breeders Association.
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