Is she or isn’t she?

I’ve been sorting fleeces. Here are samples of Glenna and Millicent, 2009 March lambs that I got just before Christmas.

That is black wool from another sheep in the middle and here is a close-up:

When I got these sheep there was one definite lilac among them. (For those of you non-Jacob sheep people, lilac is a color other than the more common black and white, usually a shade of grayish-brown.) I wondered about the others because they are out of lilac ewes and sired by Kenleigh’s Nitro, who is registered as a lilac. Shannon, Nitro’s breeder says that he was very dark and one of the JSBA inspectors said he was “chocolate” lilac.

Gladys is the obvious lilac, but what about her sister?

This is Millicent,  out of Nitro and  Meridian Millie, a lilac ewe who I sold a few years ago.

Here is Meridian Tess, who was born here, definitely not a lilac, but I thought she would be a good comparison.

So is there a difference between the black and white Tess and Millicent? Telilah is Millicent’s half sister/cousin (sired by Nitro and her dam is M. Tillie, a lilac ewe and the identical twin of Millie, but that’s another story.) Of course it’s hard to know what color you’re seeing on the computer, and I had decided that these sheep were regular black and white. But after opening up their fleeces today I think I’ve changed my mind.

Here is the group of these new sheep playing in the early evening. They stay together most of the time–I think they’er happy to be on the pasture.

While we’re looking at sheep, here are a few that look ready to explode. The first lambs are due in about three weeks.

This is bide a wee Haylee…

and this is Hillside Paula.


6 thoughts on “Is she or isn’t she?

  1. So are you thinking “chocolate” lilac for Glenna and Millicent? How would you distinguish this from just a lighter black? (I mean visually – if you didn’t know they came from lilac genes). It seems that in the black and whites there is still variety as to intensity of black.

    Fun to think about! Good luck finishing up those fleeces.

  2. From the pictures and the fleece sample, I wouldn’t consider either Millicent or Glenna a lilac. The fleece samples look like early graying to me.
    Craft’s Praline came to Georgia in 96 and was advertised as a ‘chocolate lilac’. She was an obvious chocolate color – facial markings, leg markings and fleece. My personal definition of a lilac includes the lilac markings and fleece – and they breed true.
    I think there are colors in the breed that are not exactly black, but are also not exactly lilac. Some of these fall into the JSBA definition of lilac.
    One thing I’ve noticed about ‘true’ (going by my definition – not necessarily the correct definition) lilacs is that the tips sunbleach to an apricot or taupe color – never to a rusty brown like black fleeces do. I don’t know if anyone has noticed this, but it’s pretty consistent around her.
    I really wanted Telilah when Lynette had her for sale – she’s such a beauty.

    • I don’t think it’s early graying. I know the photo of the fleece sample seemed a little on the gray side, but in person I don’t see any gray in the fleece but a shade of brown. When you look at the sheep themselves its hard to call them anything but black. That’s why when I looked at the fleeces I was surprised that I did actually see a difference, subtle though it is. Robin Lynde Meridian Jacobs Vacaville, CA

  3. I agree with Linda. It looks like these two girls fall into the not lilac and not black category. I don’t necessarily agree with how Nitro was registered. I also believe that the ‘true’ lilacs should breed true.

  4. I’ve had some sheep that had definite brown fleeces. Some of these proved to be lilac carriers – but did not always produce lilacs bred to a lilac. In one case with a brown fleece, I think it might have been a copper deficiency.
    Many of the sheep I’ve seen that had ‘different’ fleeces, but not lilac facial and leg markings, were lilac carriers. I wonder if the ‘not black/not lilac’ fleeces might be some sort of incomplete lilac genetically.
    I haven’t done any scientific testing, so that’s just a SWAG.
    Great conversation here! There is so much to learn about the lilacs and it’s very helpful to see pictures and hear ideas.

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