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Thanks, 2017!

This is a very belated update, but Apple Creek Merinos has had a wonderful past year!

The highlights include lambing in February- March, with a total of 6 lambs born to three ewes. Two each, you say? Ha! Darling Kiwi surprised us with quadruplets sired by the fantastic NZ ram, Bluestone C5-12. It took a small army to keep her going those last few days of her pregnancy, but mom and babies all did great once we induced labor and got them out. The other colored ewe to lamb, Phoebe, gave me a spectacular moorit spotted ram lamb who will become one of my foundation sires.

After lambing, the next big project was to get all of the fleeces picked clean and ready for the Black Sheep Gathering (BSG) wool show at the end of June. After much deliberation, I decided to enter 7 total fleeces into the wool show, with my best 5 selected to compete for the highly coveted Black Sheep Cup award.

Fleeces are judged on consistency, staple length, cleanliness, quality of shearing, and that hard-to-explain quality of "character." To get each fleece in its show-ready form, I spent at least two hours going through every square inch, picking out any bit of hay, short "second cuts" or other imperfection. This is a painstaking process, but the result is so worth it! Those picked-clean fleeces in their bags, with the best wool on top, are mouth-watering to look at.

In addition to the wool show, the BSG holds a sheep show with classes for both white and colored sheep. I entered into the show two of my yearlings from last year and five of the lambs. I hadn't shown a sheep since my 4-H days in high school, and had never fitted out a Merino for showing before. Luckily, all of the competitors are wonderfully helpful and didn't mind giving me tips on how to get mine looking their best.

And what a weekend it was. We started it off with my wonderful white yearling ram Shaun taking champion ram for all of the white long, medium, and fine wools. The next day, Gala, one of the quadruplets, took champion ewe in the colored fine wool division, with the others placing well and earning many compliments. I was already on cloud 9; I couldn't imagine it getting any better. My fleeces had been garnering quite a bit of attention in their show as well, but I hadn't been able to watch that judging as much as I was so busy in the sheep barn. Wool judging wraps up Saturday afternoon, with the final event of awarding the Black Sheep Cup. This is a beautiful trophy awarded to the grower of the best group of 5 fleeces, and I was honored to receive it this year! Judith Mackenzie, the wool judge, added an incredibly interesting perspective to the show with her immense amount of knowledge. I wish I could have listened to her more, she is truly a wealth of information. In only my second year of showing merinos, I could not have ever imagined such a successful weekend.

The bar has certainly been set for 2018!

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