Wisconsin Sheep and Wool 2015

In 2011 Joel and I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival. We had not lived on the farm for very long and only had poultry and rabbits at the time. We knew we wanted some bigger animals such as goats or sheep, but were unsure what breed would best suit our needs. At the festival we saw many different breeds of sheep, including the breed we would end up raising: Shetlands.

Its been four years since that festival and we have had three successful lambing seasons. I’ve come to love our breed very deeply, and try to improve upon the stock we currently own with each breeding season. We are breeding for polled rams, fine fleece, good confirmation, pleasant temperament, good mothering abilities and strong parasite resistance.

The 2015 Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival started on Friday but I had a presentation in class so Joel and I were not able to attend the early activities. We loaded our sale sheep up Friday night, got to the fair grounds, unloaded the sale sheep and then loaded up up to sheep I bought from Becky of River Oaks Farm (she lives in MN and was kind enough to bring them for me to pick up.)

Here is Minnie, a moorit gulmoget.

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And Gillian (Gilly for short) a moorit, gulmoget ewe lamb

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Joel started to feel sick while we were loading up the new sheep so we hurried home as we knew we would have an early start the next day. That morning Joel felt even more sick. We managed to get our show sheep loaded up and brought them to the show. My dad met us at the show. Joel was feeling so ill he drove my dad’s car home and my dad stayed on to help out. Our friends Cindy and Steve also came to help in and outside the ring so I wasn’t alone. I don’t know what I would have done without the three of them to help me! I am a lucky lady to have such wonderful friends and family!

The order of classes in the show is senior ram, yearling ram, ram lamb, pair of ram lambs, champion ram, senior ewe, yearling ewe, ewe lamb, pair of ewe lambs, and then some other classes such as best fleece on the hoof, best small flock, dam and daughter and then the very last class that decides Supreme Champion and Reserve Supreme Champion.

Our first class was yearling ram and I had Bruce. Bruce was excellent on the halter and walked at my side like a gentlemen. It was a small class with only two other rams in it, both of whom are stunning. I was feeling very intimidated, and I almost choked when Gilbert Mielke, our Scottish judge, handed me the first place ribbon. He shook my hand and I thought I was going to faint.

12011211_10155959018995456_4194353240840124214_n(yearling ram class photo by Garrett Ramsay)

Next up was the ram lamb class. We only had a few ram lambs this last season and I brought our favorite, Washburne. I believe there was a class of about 12-15 ram lambs and Wash got fourth place, earning him the chance to have his own breeding group this fall.

wash(Wash and I in the ram lamb class with Mike Bartles on the right. Photo by my dad, Martin Solis)

Then there was pair of ram lambs and I had a quick break to give Wash to Cindy and Steve and grab Bruce again to compete for Champion ram. In champion ram the senior ram winner, yearling ram winner and ram lamb winner go back in the ring to compete against each other. Bruce won again, earning him the chance to compete for supreme champion. We got a rosette! And a plaque! Our sheep have never even won a first place ribbon before so I was really over the moon and giddy at this point.

BRUCE(My face is like WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING??? Bruce is cool as a cucumber. Photo: Garrett Ramsay)

Right after this class was senior ewe and Cindy grabbed Ostara and I grabbed Cleo and Steve got Bruce put away. Cleo got third place.

bea 1(Mike Bartles on the right in first place, Terri Mahlkuch in second place and Cleo and I in third. Photo: Martin Solis)

Cindy and I showed Gretel and Beatrice for yearling ewe and did not place. Bea almost head butted me in the face while I was holding her for the judge to examine her wool.

The next class was ewe lamb, we had planned on Joel being there so we brought 4 lambs. Steve and I got Echo and Osceola in the ring and they both went nuts, throwing themselves on the ground and really acting foolish. Mindy slipped her halter before getting in the ring and Cindy caught her but not in time to get her in the ring. In my dad’s words, “good thing it isn’t an obedience contest!” We didn’t place in this class but Osceola and Echo did get second place pair of ewe lambs in the next class.

I believe the next class we were in was Best Fleece on the Hoof in which Bruce won second place. I took Raven to best colored, patterned or modified sheep and she didn’t place.

After all the other classes were done they called the Champion ram (BRUCE!) and the Champion ewe, Sheltering Pines Salicional back into the ring. They told the reserve champion ram and ewe to be on stand by. Our judge looked at both Salicional and Bruce and then called the reserves back in. I thought for sure that meant we had not won. I was just excited we had made it so far! Salicional won Supreme Champion and Bruce was Reserve Champion. I was thrilled!

FINAL FOUR GARRETT(Last class…Photo: Garrett Ramsay)

BRUCE2OMG!

This is our third time showing at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool and I didn’t anticipate this at all. I am so grateful to our judges who came all the way from Scotland to judge our show and share their knowledge of the sheep we all love so much. I am honored that a UK judge and inspector sees so much potential in Emancipation Bruce. Gilbert Meikle(our judge) said Bruce was, “A superb ram with excellent wool and very true to type.” I could not possibly be more grateful. (Bruce might be a bit more grateful then I am when he finds out he is going to get so many more ewes this year).

One of the best things about the Jefferson show is seeing old friends, making new friends, and enjoying time with other people that love the same things.  This photo is (almost) all of us. I had an absolute blast. I could not possibly ask to be friends with a funnier, weirder(in a good way), kinder group of people. Watching everyone support each other, and cheer each other on was a thing of beauty. I can’t wait to see you all next year, and hopefully I will see some of you before that.

shetland sheep group

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Why Every Farm Needs Goats Part 1

Joel and I have lived on our farm for five years. Before that when we were in the reading, researching and dreaming phase I was obsessed with dairy goats. Anyone that knows me even a tiny bit probably knows about my deep and unyielding love of cheese.

There is an often quoted saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin, ” Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” In all reality this is a condensed version of a paragraph Ben wrote in a letter that was actually about wine. Personally, I think he was just to drunk to actually remember he was talking about cheese. Cheese is just delightful, and really does seem to be proof that at least dairy goats love us and want us to be happy.

So why, given my overpowering cheese lust did we wait five years to start milking goats? I knew I wanted to make cheese but I also knew our animals needed to be working to pay our bills. Wisconsin has some of the most draconian cheese laws and one can not simply build a commercial kitchen and start making cheese. So, I put the brakes on my dreams of goats.

Half of our 40 acre property is overgrown woods. The first few years we spent building pasture fences (a task that never ends) in the obvious pasture worthy parts of the farm. As our poultry, sheep and pig herds and flocks grew bigger we began to think seriously about the woods. Joel has been wanting to clean up and restore the woods to Oak savanna  (as it historically was) since we moved in, but it’s a huge project and it always seemed we had to many irons in the fire to get started on this important and time consuming project.

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In 2014 we decided to get serious about restoring the woods. We knew we wanted to take out the invasives like Buckthorn and keep the trees with food value to livestock and wildlife such as oaks, bitternut hickory, shagbark hickory, black walnut, and mulberries. Some people don’t like mulberries because they are not native, but their leaves are very high in protein, everything loves to eat their berries (myself included!) and they provide shade in the pastures, so they are quite welcome on our farm.

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We started building the first one acre pasture in the woods. We bought five goats and in the spring of 2015 put those goats and pigs into the wooded pasture. It was pretty obvious in the first few weeks that we needed more goats. The best goats for brush clearing are wethers,  (neutered males, does currently in milk can damage their udders on things like raspberry brambles, which goats love to eat).

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I made my case to Joel, if we want/need more goats we should get some does currently in milk, then in a few months we could re-breed them, and by next spring we would have more wethers for the woods, and almost the whole time I would have delicious milk to be made into cheese.

So, that is what we did! In subsequent blog entries I will show how the goats are working for us by

1. Making milk (cheese, soap)

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2. Clearing the woods of invasives without the use of pesticides, or poisons all the while feeding themselves and having a great time.

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3. How the does in milk are helping with the weeds in the sheep pasture.

4. The differences between sheep and goats, why I love them both, and why we need them both.

Beer Braised Pork Hocks

Pork hocks are one of the most flavorful cuts. The hocks are the lower part of the legs, above the trotters. When buying a whole pig you will receive four hocks, and they are often whole with skin on, or sliced width wise (skin on or skin off). Some customers choose to have the hocks ground, or let them sit in their freeze for ever because they are not sure how to prepare them. This is a shame because the hocks are one of the most delicious cuts. Much like shanks in pastured lamb, pork hocks may be tough if cooked overly hot and fast. This toughness is because pastured animals actually use their legs for walking from place to place, unlike pork from CAFOs, however this is aldo what goves pastured hocks such a lovely flavor. Cooking hocks with liquid helps tenderize the meat and allows the flavor full rein to knock your socks off.

To make Beer Braised Pork Hocks a la Emancipation Acres you will need the following ingredients.

High heat cooking oil, I used sesame but any oil that can handle a high heat will do
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced very fine
2 pork hocks, whole or sliced width wise
2 white onions, cut into rounds
4 potatoes, cut into rounds
1 large squash, I used a lemon squash but any squash should be fine. If you use a squash like lemon with large seeds in the center, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, then cut into slices. Squash like yellow squash can be cut into rounds
2 apples, cored and quartered
2 cups dark beer, I used Capitol Amber

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the salt in a large bowl and rub the mixture on the pork hocks. If skin on pork hocks are being used score the skin with a knife and rub the mixture into the scores. A blend of spices could be added at this point as well, I didn’t however as I like the flavor of the pork to be the center of attention.

Grease the roasting pan with the high heat oil. Make sure a high heat oil is used.

Peel the white onions and slice them into rounds. Place them evenly in the bottom of the roasting pan in an even layer. Place the hocks on top of the layer of onions and cook covered at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes take the baking pan out of the oven and place the quartered apples, sliced potatos and squash in an even layer around the hocks.  Pour 1 cup of the beer over the hocks and cook for one hour at 325 degrees F.

The FDA recently lowered the safe temperature for pork from 160 degrees F to 140 degrees F. After an hour check the temperature of the hocks, and stir the veggies. I used sliced hocks and they were at 140 degrees F after an hour. If you are using skin on whole hocks they will likely take longer.

(http://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/dining/porks-safe-cooking-temperature-is-lowered.html?referrer=)

When the hocks are nearly done (130 degrees F or so, baste the hocks with the remaining cup of beer. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees F and heat covered for another ten minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven and check that the hock temperature reads between 140-160 degrees F in the center of the meat.

If sliced hocks were used they can be placed on a plate with the veggies on the side. If whole hocks were used they can be carved on a cutting board, or just go wild with a knife and fork on your own plate.

Don’t be afraid to chew the meat off the bones, that’s half the fun!

Alternatively: after I made this I realized it would taste really good on top of rice, which would also be a good way to stretch the recipe to feed more people.

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Breeding Groups for 2015 Lambs

Sheltering Pines Bug – Bug is my favorite ram hands down. He is friendly, moorit, has a great fleece, scurred,
tends to throw friendly offspring, has great legs, and scurred.

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1. Under the Son Senja- Senja is a black sheep, with very nice confirmation and very dense wool. I am hoping Bug can improve the crimp and fineness in her fleece. She is quite friendly. Black lambs likely.

2. Emancipation Inara- Inara is a favorite of mine. She is a Snowflake daughter who always produced lovely lmbs for us. She is a fawn katmoget from our first ever breeding. She is friendly, with lovely fleece and confirmation. Her ram lamb from this year is still for sale. Last year we put her with Bug and the Riddick was a lovely little ram. This year I am hoping for a similiar ewe. Moorit or black lambs likely.

3. Under the Son Sonora- Very friendly ewe that will nibble my fingers if the treats don’t come fast enough. Hoping or an improvement in crimp in white. Black or white lambs likely.

4. Winter Sky Wren- Lovely little moorit yearling with a great fleece. Hoping Bug can fill out her offspring a bit. Moorit lambs.

5. Sheltering Pines Lotus Moon- I kept Lotus’s lamb from last season (Kalinda) and I can only imagine the fleece on her Bug babies will be divine. Stephen has lovely sheep and I can’t wait for these lambs. White or black lambs.

White Pine Levi- Levi I had also used heavily in the last few years. He will be for sale after breeding season.

1. Sheltering Pines Temperance- Not much to complain about with this ewe, she is lovely. Black lambs

2. Ok Acres Tina- Tina is a great little sheep. She had a great ram lamb with Levi last year so we are putting her with him again to try for a keeper ewe lamb. Moorit or black lambs.

3. Emancipation Cleo- Cleo won 3rd place in a large yearling lamb class at Wisoconsin Sheep and Wool. This will be her first lambing year. Moorit or black lambs.

4. Abbie- Snowflake’s last baby. Katmoget lambs.

5. Obara- my crossbred sweetie

Whispering Pines Jean-Luc

1. Emancipation Prija- Bug daughter, lovely fleece. Katmoget lambs

2. Firth of Fifth Sakadah- mother to Bruce (breeding ram). Gul-kat, gulmoget, katmoget, black lambs. Hoping for gul-kats.

3. Shepherd Woods Easter Skerry-  Loved her lamb with Jean Luc last year, wanted to repeat the breeding. katmoget lambs

4. White Pine Faith- Hoping to get a bit more size on the lambs. Katmoget lambs.

5. Fiona- crossbred

Emancipation Bruce- Bug and Sakadah 2014 ram lamb, crimpy spotted gulmoget who carries moorit
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(Bruce on left, Freya on right)
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1. Red Oak Freya- Freya is a lovely ewe. She carries moorit and spots and I am crossing my fingers for a moorit spotted gulmoget ewe lamb but could get that or gulmoget, moorit, black

2. Sommarang Dawn- My favorite sheep of all time. Dawn throws lovely babies and has a sweet and friendly personality. I’m hoping for gul-kats but could get katmogets, gulmogets or gul-kats.

3. Sheltering Pines Jadore- kept her ewe lamb from last year and sold her ram lamb as a breeding, hoping for moorit gulmogets, but could get gulmogets or blacks as well.

4. Emancipation Katniss- hoping for more spotted moorit gulmogets, but could have moorits, gulmogets, or blacks

Emancipation Augustus- Traded his sister for Winter Sky Wren and kept him. Lovely black spotted ram 2014 ram lamb, with good crimp and nice legs.

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Team spots

1. Little Country Victoria- spotted moorit, hoping for more spots. moorit or black lambs, should be spotted.

2. Little Country Crow- Crow has big, lovely babies, usually singles. She has had ram lambs two years in a row and I am hoping for a ewe lamb. She is very parasite resistant. Moorit or black spotted lambs.

3. Under the Sun Sula- Black spotted lamb, great density, good confirmation. I am hoping Augustus can make her her lamb’s fleece a bit finer and crimpier. She had a single her first year and this year I am hoping for twins. Lambs black with spots.

4. White Pine Eva- Another Snowflake daughter. Lambs katmoget.

Ok Acres Hastings

1. Winter Sky Sicily- Hastings is a beefy boy, Sicily is a bit slender and I am hoping HAstings can beef up her frame. Moorit spotted lambs.

2. Emancipation Bethesda- Another smaller framed ewe I am hoping Hastings can beef up. Moorit or black lambs. Spots possible.

3. Little Country Bailey- My second favorite ewe after Dawn. Her daughter got 3rd place in a large yearling ewe class at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. Bailey carries moorit so moorits or katmoget lambs.

4. Emancipation Ostara- Ostara got 2nd place at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool in the yearling ewe class. She is one of my friendliest sheep and a real sweet heart. Lambs should be katmoget or moorit, possibly with spots.

French Angoras for Sale

Broken Fawn $60

Nice boy, my favorite of the bunch, may carry chinchilla light

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Opal buck $50

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Wide band fawn $50

LAMBS for Sale

I will be adding to this list in the next few days so keep checking back:)

EWE LAMBS

Hazel $300 SOLD

Hazel is a black ewe lamb with a small krunet out of Sheltering Pines Temperance (AFD 22.7 SD 4.8 CV21.0 CEM 8.5 CF 94.6–Temperance has a grade one fleece at four years old and is one of the finest ewes in my flock) and Sheltering Pines Bug (AFD 25.2 SD 5.3 CV 22.1 CEM 9.8 CF 84.4—Bug has a grade two fleece at five years old. Bug has a habit of producing friendly lambs and I love what he produces. I am keeping Hazel’s brother for evaluation. The only reason I am parting with this ewe lamb is that I have enough black in my flock.

Maggie $225 F2 Jamie

Under the Son Sonora(AFD 25.4 SD 5.9 CV 23.1CEM 10.9 CF 81.7 grade 2 fleece as a two year old)  x White Pine Levi (AFD 27.5 SD 5.6 CV 20.3 CEM 10.1 CF 71.8 Grade 2 fleece as a 5 year old. Levi is an F1 Jamie which is a very rare bloodline in this country)

Maggie is a solid black ewe lamb with a small krunet with the most beautiful shaped face, just like her momma. Her teeth are on pad, and her legs are nice and straight. Her fleece will likely be long and wavy.

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Ram Lambs

Riddick – $250

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Riddick is out of one of my most beautiful and friendly ewes, Inara (AFD-25.4, SD 5.3 CV 20.8, CEM 8.9, CF 84.3) and Sheltering Pines Bug (AFD 25.2 SD 5.3 CV 22.1 CEM 9.8 CF 84.4—Bug has a grade two fleece at five years old.)

Inara and Bug both roo very well, and I think this guy will too. He looks like he will have a soft, crimpy fleece. He is fawn katmoget with some wild spots and carries moorit. I considered keeping him, but I already have a katmoget ram. He will have scurs of aberrant horns.

Riddick has LOVELY fleece.

 

Gomer $250 SOLD THANK YOU SHAWN!

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Gomer got his name because when he was born he managed to wedge himself between a lambing jug and the wall. He was almost missed, and surely would have died but his momma was acting crazy and we found him.

Gomer is out of one of my favorite sheep, Sheltering Pines Jadore( AFD 20.9, SD4.6, CV 22.1, CEM 7.7 CF 98.3- Jadore has amazing stats, and has one of the best fleeces in my flock, she still has a grade 1 fleece as a four year old.  She is modified, and so Bug carries modified so Gomer may be modified (only time will tell)and my favorite ram, Sheltering Pines Bug(AFD 25.2 SD 5.3 CV 22.1 CEM 9.8 CF 84.4—Bug has a grade two fleece at five years old.)

Gomer is a solid moorit (possibly modified) with scurs or aberrant horns. I am keeping Gomer’s twin sister, his mother, and his father. I considered keeping Gomer but decided to keep his sister instead.

Dontos- $150

Dontos is a moorit, yuglet. He is out of Lil Country Victoria AFD 25.3, SD 6.5, CV 25.7, CEM 12.2, CF 80.2- grade two fleece as a four year old) and Sheltering Pines Bug (AFD 25.2 SD 5.3 CV 22.1 CEM 9.8 CF 84.4—Bug has a grade two fleece at five years old.)

His crimp is coming in, his legs are slightly turned in at the hock, which he may or may not out grow.

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Yarrow $200

Yarrow is out of Shepardwoods Easter Skerry (AFD 27.1 SD 5.5 CV 20.2 CEM 9.3 CF 74.1 – grade 2 fleece as a 5 year old)and Whispering Pines Jean Luc(AFD 25 SD 5.1, CV 20.3, CEM 8.5 CF 89.1 as a yearling- grade 2 fleece) Both parents have very nice confirmation and they seem to have passed that along to Yarrow. Jean Luc was third place at Jefferson Sheep and Wool out of 15 in the ram lamb class.
I believe Yarrow will have scurs or aberrant horns( which is to say he will not be fully horned, but depending on who he is bred to he could produce horned or polled stock). Yarrow has very nice legs, a lovely, straight back and good confirmation all around. He will likely have a more wavy style fleece.

Yarrow is a fawn katmoget and is likely homozygous katmoget.

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Starling F2 Jamie

Black ram with a krunet out of Little Country Crow (AFD 26.8 SD 6.5 CV 24.3 CEM 12.1 CEM 12.1 CF 71.8) and White Pine Levi(AFD 27.5 SD 5.6 CV 20.3 CEM 10.1 CF 71.8 Grade 2 fleece as a 5 year old. Levi is an F1 Jamie which is a very rare bloodline in this country

Starling is a single and he is a quite the big boy. His crimp is starting to come in

CROSSBREDS – Finn x Shetland

Finn sheep are known for their large numbers of lambs 3-5 typically, and the ability to nurse those lambs. Many meat producers breed in some Finn to get lambing % up. Although these lambs will not be guaranteed to have any certain number of lambs, it is likely they will have 2-3 lambs per lambing as adults. Finn’s also have naturally short tails (for people like me who dislike docking) and are naturally polled (have no horns). The Finn’s are a big bigger than the Shetlands, and thus have more meat.

Frigg- $200

Frigg is a moorit Shetland x Finn out of one of my favorite ewes, Freya. Freya is a lovely Shetland, always gives me twins, and keeps her weight on even when milking. Frigg has a more open and wavy style fleece.

Natasha- $200

Natasha is a Finn ram (Eino) crossed on to our Charollais X, Fiona. Fiona is a BIG girl, and Natasha will be decent sized as well. Natasha is very sweet like her mother, and friendly.

Sandy-$200

Sandy is out of Obara and Eino. Obara is a cross of just about everything. She has a bit of Shetland, some BFL, as well as CVM. She is black with a krunet.

 

I have several Shetland x Finn cross rams for sale for someone wanting a terminal cross that may produce higher numbers of lambs born, with good mothering instincts and mothering abilities.

Ewe Sales List

Every year to make room for lambs to retain we must sell a few older ewes. Parting with any of the sheep is like pulling teeth for me, yet it must be done.

Here are the ewes we are selling this year.

River Oaks Ginger

Ginger is a moorit bleset. UK lines in her pedigree are Dillon,  Minder, and Holly. She is somewhat friendly and will allow pats and scratches and will beg for treats. Her fleece is very dense, and she is crimpy. I retained her ewe lamb from last year and am keeping her ram lamb this year for evaluation. Her micron test is pending. She was born in 2010.

$300

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Victoria

Little Country Victoria is a spotted (flecket) moorit. We have had her for two years and she has always twined. She has always has very pretty spotted babies (when bred to a spotted ram). She has a dense, wavy style fleece with a slight double coat. I am not breeding for double coated fleece, but for someone that is, Victoria would be a nice ewe. Her 2013 fleece stats were Micron:25.2, SD:7.6, CV: 30.3% her 2014 micron tests are pending. Victoria was born in 2010.

$200

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Brienne

Brienne is a mix of just about everything. She has a lovely, white, long and crimpy fleece. Her micron test is pending. Her tail has not been docked. She can be friendly. She was born in 2013 and will be ready for breeding in the fall.

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