Woodland Creek Soay Rams

Woodland Creek Soay Rams
Soay Sheep Ram Assortment

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Late July Soay lamb - another Black and White

Our late-season lambing continues with another Soay lamb born yesterday. This one was not a sure thing for coat pattern, as the dam (Blue Mountain Bunny) is heterozygous for self-colored agouti gene, and since it is recessive she does not show it, but instead shows the more typical brown wild (or mouflon) pattern. Since the sire was a self-colored black (Woodland Creek Pepper), she had a 50% chance of having an S-C black, and just like last year, she came through for us and had another S-C black.
But the best part is the white spotting. Many know that one of our flock breeding goals is to extend the degree of white spotting on a self-colored black Soay. As my developing theory on the extent of white spotting would predict, this new ram lamb (now named Chilcoot) does indeed have more white than either of it's parents.
Here is a photo of the dam, Bunny, and ram lamb,
Woodland Creek Chilcoot - r '07.

Here is a photo of the sire, Woodland Creek Pepper '06.

The only unfortunate part, for our breeding program, is that it is a ram lamb. (We now have 6 Black and White rams... way more than we need!).
While white spotting is fairly common in Soays in North American, white spotting on top of self-colored blacks is not very common. Of all the self-colored black Soays with white spotting I have known about ever produced in North America, this ram has the second-largest extent of white spotting I've ever seen. Note how the pattern of extension of white spotting in successive generations follows the (roughly) predicted pattern - first a poll "wisp" (like Chilkoot's grand-sire Kvasir has), then a poll spot (like Chilkoot's sire Pepper has), then usually a poll and forehead spot (like Bunny's '06 ram lamb Obsidian has), then these merge into a "crown" (like this lamb Chilkoot has), and then I predict next generation a blaze (note that this lamb has a tiny white spot on his nose - almost made a blaze), and eventually a white tail tip, and / or white "socks" on one or more feet, and so on.
To be clear here, the white spotting extent does not change on any lamb once it is born - I mean above that the extent of white spotting changes with each generation of offspring - not on any lamb once it is born.

The greatest extent of white spotting that I've ever seen documented on a self-colored black Soay in North America was Blue Mountain Thunder - e '01. She is the lamb in center of photo below, courtesy Kate Montgomery. Note that Thunder had a white tail tip too - the next place I expect white spotting to show up as I continue to "add white".

Note how similar the white markings are on my new lamb and Thunder, above. Thunder's dam was Blue Mountain Thumper (who lives here at Woodland Creek now). Thumper is also the dam of Pepper '06, the sire of my new ram lamb. And guess what - she is also the dam of Bunny '02 - the dam of my new ram lamb. Of course this didn't all happen by chance - it has taken years of seaching out and obtaining the stock to replicate the pattern shown in Thunder. (Thunder met an unfortunate early end at Blackhorse farm before she was registered or ever had offspring.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Putting up hay with Farmall Cub and Cub-22 mower

Now that I had the Cub and the sickle mower in apparently working condition, on the 4th of July I undertook mowing a 3-acre field of very tall grass. This field is several miles from our place, and is actually a vacant field next to (and owned by) a bank. Each year prior they paid someone to mow and leave the hay. This year I volunteered to mow it in order to cure it properly and carry it away (loose - I have no baler).
First I had to borrow a flatbed utility trailer from friendly and helpful neighbors up the road. I did get the Cub loaded successfully.

The trip up the hill to the field was un-eventful, and the mower worked very well for me, although it was slow going given the height of the grass (often it was as tall as the Cub - maybe 5 feet tall).

In all it took about 5 hours to knock down all the grass, and only 2 or 3 times did I find surprises in the grass (stumps, deep ruts, big rocks, etc.) but no damage to equipment in any encounter. I did have several mechanical failures on the mower, but each was field-repaired to keep it running. I was very pleased with the way the mower laid down the tall grass and rarely clogged.
Here's the overview at the end of the day.

The hay dried completely over the next day, but when I went to rake and pick it up, I discovered that I had waited too long to cut it - most of the field the grass was so coarse, with so little green, that I was certain the sheep would not eat it. I ended up harvesting perhaps 1/3 of what I had cut - but my committment to the bank was to cut as much as I could anyway, as their objective was simply to clean up the appearance and reduce fire risk.
Here's the nice little stack of hay I harvested from that plot.

At 10 feet wide by 15 feet long by average 8 feet high the pile is 1,200 cubic feet. I estimate the packing density to be about half what it would for a bale of hay. If a typical small bale is about 10 cubic feet, then I harvested about 60 bales equivalent, so not bad for a couple days work. That will save me a fair bit on hay costs this winter!

July Soay Lamb - Another Black and White

Our late lambing season for 2007 continues. We had our second "Black and White" Soay lamb of 2007 on 5-Jul-07. This lamb (genetically, self-colored agouti, Aa/Aa, Dark phase at Brown (that is, black), BB/B?, with white spotting, Ss/Ss) had to be a Black & White since both self-colored and white spotting are recessive, and both parents were homozygous for these traits, hence the lamb had to be also.
The dam, Teed's Cinnamon, is a "3-spot" Black and White. She has a poll spot, a forehead spot, and a spot on the side of her neck. The sire is Woodland Creek Pepper, a 1-spot Black and White. He has a nice white poll spot (see blog entry below for his photo - he is also the sire of our prior Black & White 2007 lamb.
This lamb was a ram, and he has been named Woodland Creek Shoshone. Here he is at about 2 days old, with his dam Cinnamon.

At first, when I saw Shoshone from a distance, I was very surprised to not see more white showing. In fact, it didn't appear that he exhibited any white at all, which should not be, given the parents genetics. Upon close inspection, Shoshone does have white spotting, however, it is restricted to a total of 5 white hairs on the top of his head. One begins to wonder how few hairs reliably designate the presence of white spotting gene.

The other thing that is somewhat unusual, from our lambing experience, was the developed state of Shoshone's horns. Even from a distance, immediately after his birth, I could surmise he was a ram because his horn buds were already very evident (see the photo above - where he is one day old). It will be interesting to see whether this "precocious" horn development translates into any particularly notable features in the adult ram.

Monday, July 2, 2007

1948 Farmall Cub - first test with Cub-22 mower

Well, I have cleaned, restored, and replaced all parts critical to getting the Cub up and running pretty well. I have also restored the Cub-22 sickle-bar mower I obtained, and this is how it all looks:

Here is a short movie demonstrating the mower (on short grass - just to get the idea).