Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Profiles in Cuteness: Carlotta

I thought I might do a series of "Lamb Profiles" over the next few weeks. Partly because I'd like to highlight the way we are learning to think about our sheep, identifying their good and great qualities (and also some of the things we'd hope to change in our breeding program for next year) and partly because they are just so darn cute. It takes an experienced eye to look at a field chock full o' lambs and see beyond the "cute factor", but a shepherd must. She (or he) must look at those babies and compare them to her breeding goals.... and she must be ruthless in her assessment. Not so easy when you've watched the little things wriggle into the world, cleaned the mucous from their noses and helped rub them dry, but necessary.

Our farm breeding goals match the "triple purpose" characteristic of Icelandics pretty well. We hope to produce big broad, well-built icelandics with beautiful fleece and good mothering qualities. We are also aiming for good temperments (Friendly ewes/wary rams), and an extra bonus is variety in color and pattern. (We love the array of naturally colored yarn and rovings our sheep produce.) In addition, parasite resistance and overall resilience are important traits as well.

And so, without further ado, here is Carlotta:

Carlotta is Penny's lamb, a twin. (Twinning is a trait that is passed on to successive generations and so is a positive.) Carlotta has a very bright white fleece (Not a positive for our farm, but not a negative either) and a chunky build. She is one of our boldest and most curious lambs, the first to check out any new element. She led the lambs on a pretty hilarious "guinea fowl hunt" a few days ago.
Carlotta must carry the genes for black fleece, as her father, Bombadil, is Black gray.
Carlotta's mum, Penny, has shown remarkable mothering instincts; she keeps a constant eye on her twins and this is one of those traits that, again, could be passed on to little Carlotta here. Also, Penny has a good sized udder, and a very wide build. She has had no trouble growing her two little (but not Soooooo little) ones.
In short, we are really happy with Carlotta. As she grows, we will examine her fleece and build more closely.

Time will tell if she'll inherit the qualities that make her a model Icelandic sheep, but she is looking pretty good right now. Oh, and she is pretty high on the cute-o-meter too.