Friday, October 9, 2009

"Are You a Dwarf?"

"Are you a dwarf? How tall are you? Do you have to sit on a pillow to drive?"
At least a couple times during the year, my caring, compassionate 8th graders ask me this question. I often reply that my 4'10 ft. body with a size 5 shoe will demonstrate what a dwarf I really am if they don't run fast enough away from me.
My point you may ask? Nothing, no actually I have been thinking about dwarfism.
I know that dwarfism exists in all species (well, I don't really know for sure but I am assuming it does... MA in history, not science) and I am wondering if it does with Shetland Sheep?
This past breeding season I had two really small lambs born. At birth they were fairly comparable in size to all the other lambs but as the lambs started growing and maturing, they remained small. The little guy pictured below is one of them.

He is a single ram lamb. His dam is a single black ewe that got bred by mistake at 8mos. I guess I have a number questions. His dam was a normal size ewe lamb, coming in at around 45-50 lbs. I know that some breeders will breed ewes as yearlings or if they are 50lbs. I personally do not believe in it, though I understand & respect those breeders that do; its just a personal preference. I however, felt like a total yuck when I realized she got bred by mistake. Side question: does breeding under a year in age affect size of lambs?
Anyways, he is really small. He was born mid-April and is just starting to push about 12 lbs. He is just a little stinker. Are there dwarf Shetlands? If so, what constitutes a dwarf Shetland? I am just wondering about bloodlines, genetics? If so, does it skip around? Meaning generation to generation? I am no genetic genius and by posting this I am probably causing a big flag to go up on my Shetland sheep but I am not trying to win breeder of year over here and I would like to know. I AM NOT TRYING TO BREED DWARF SHETLANDS EITHER. I don't believe in just culling either, too soft of a heart and I believe in the underdog. And while I am not ashamed of this little guy being born either and have nothing to hide, I also understand and know he is not breeding quality. This little ram lamb was wethered back in August and is completely content doing his own "little thing" out in the barn and I am completely amused watching him .
I often wonder though, if by wethering them too young, does it prohibit growth that they really need when they are smaller? I always get a variety of responses from the vets I go to so I end up with a variety of self-diagnosis's and end up weeding through it by experience.
This is him on the left pictured with 2 other lambs, all born within days of each other and actually the other 2 are twins (not to each other however). I am wondering too, if by working with polled genetics, is this a more likely situation to arise as opposed to working with non-polled lines? Personal preference is that I do like the Shetland sheep that are finer boned, though not so fined bone that it would compromise their confirmation. I am surprised to see so many larger boned Shetlands at the few sheep shows I went to this year. Is this a new trend in Shetlands?
If so, then if more and more people breed for larger boned Shetlands then the "normal" sized Shetlands will start to all look like dwarfs now won't they? Just a thought.
I contemplated posting this for awhile as I am not the type of person to put this kind of stuff on my blog. I prefer to keep it light hearted and fun and truly I am not all knowing about Shetland genetics but I love my sheep for just being sheep and being there for me so I posted.
If your reading, thanks for listening to my thoughts.
And if I do say so myself, I do have some pretty loveable sheep:)

A Thought on Friday

And its a 3 day weekend because Monday is Discoverers Day (Columbus was booted out once it became known that he wasn't the nice guy we all learned about in Kindergratin)!!
So much to do but at least its not at work:)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Halloween........

My students are writing either a Halloween or Autumn poem in class this week. One of the requirements is to have some pictures to frame around their poem, kinda like a collage of images. I found this vintage Halloween card on line that has the most awesome details that I shared with the kids today which inspired a conversation on the history of Halloween in the United States and how and why it has become the second most popular holiday in the U.S. Our conversation will continue throughout the month as I also do a unit on the Salem Witch Trials in history class including the movie "The Crucible".
Yes, we celebrate Halloween in my classroom:)

Monday, October 5, 2009

A "BOO" Kind of Morning

So at 4:45 am I awoke to this gosh-for-saking noise......kinda like a motor attempting to start but the belt was stuck so it kept cranking. It was really LOUD and being so coherent at 4:45 am I stumbled out of bed thinking my house was going to blow up. Down to the basement I went and yes, that noise was coming from the furnace. After muttering a few choice words, I turnd the furance off and stumbled back up the steps saying in some colorful language what a wonderful week it was going to be AGAIN. I double checked the furnance before I left for work to reaffirm that yes I was not imaging the noise and it did exist. So on the way to work I was thinking about how I was going to rob a bank to pay for a new furnace. I called my Dad to complain and then I called FWB who wanted to know why I always call in the morning when there is a problem? Why don't I call, he wondered, to profess my love for him? REALLY? I told him this was not a laughing matter and when would he be over?
So yes, this evening FWB fixed the furnance for me. The problem one might ask? Well on the side of the fan motor drum that is located on the inside of the furnace, is this sticker that says "Apply 20 drops of oil annually". Now who the hell reads that label???? Seriously. The furnace is 18 yrs old, why the heck would it need oil now? Even FWB admitted he would have never noticed it. Well, it got oiled and its working now so I will keep my fingers crossed. Good thing I didn't have to rob a bank tonight:)

Now back to more serious "BOO" matter. Front porch Halloween decorations. I got my orange lights up around the porch tonight and finished up with some other things. Now of course, its just me and the "kids" who enjoy the lights & decorations as I have never had a trick-or-treater come to my house.......must be that 800 ft driveway.
I did promise Dixie I would dress her up and take her out trick-or-treating this year..........
........what do you think of her costume??? LOL