Monday, February 27, 2012
This time of year is almost as much fun for us as Christmas. Our sheep, who have been growing their wonderful wool for a year, look forward to the day when it all comes off. Yes, it is still February, but they seem to come through the event feeling more comfortable & relieved to get all that heavy wool off. Just imagine an instant 10 lb weight loss. We’ve literally had grown-up, adult ewes & rams do the “Happy Spring Dance”, pronking in the field following shearing.
The pregnant ewes are more likely to stay in the barn after shearing, and after they deliver the lambs, the teats are easier for their little ones to find. And even though the rams don’t have these concerns, they, too, are happy afterwards. All our sheep are coated, so they do have that protection, as well as their 1/2”+ of wool remaining to keep them warm.
So here we are, with a wonderful bunch of fleeces. Several were promised to repeat customers, and those have been shipped off. One went to Judith MacKenzie and was used in her CVM class at Madrona Fiber Festival just a couple of weeks ago. The rest of the fleeces are here, and I am working hard to get those ready for the sale at our farm April 14, 2012, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. So there’s still some sorting & pricing going on, and I am having a great time just fondling the scrumptious wool. Mmmmmmm!
Here is a photo of Helena’s dense, velvety fleece. Helena has been a dark espresso color in years past, but now (after having birthed & raised 10 lambs in three years - two sets of triplets & one set of quads), she has some gray in her wool. It’s a more charcoal color this year. She is a very precious lady, and has this year off for lambing. If I could give her a real vacation & send her on a trip to Hawaii, I would. But she’s just going to be Auntie this year, and have some time for her body to recover from her very busy last three years.
The really nice thing about dense fleeces is that it’s hard for VM to find its way in. It’s more likely to stay on the top of the fiber, and then is pretty easy to pick off before shearing. It also helps that we have coats on everybody to protect the fleeces from dirt,VM, & sun-bleaching. During the course of the year, as the fleeces grow, we change out the coats to larger sizes to accommodate the wool. That means that the sheep wear four to five different coats through a year. Those coat changes are also a good time to assess body condition, to make sure that each one is at a healthy weight.
The next thing to happen here will be lambing. . . any day now! We’ve been watching the girls very carefully & it appears that Glenda will be the first to give birth. Her udder is enlarged, her belly has dropped, & her nether regions are looking rosy. She is big as a house & I am sure she has at least twins. She is our champion ram, Elmer’s daughter (looks just like her Dad), and since we lost Elmer last year, I am so very happy that we still have his genetic line at our farm. Can hardly wait to see the lambs!