“>Aside from the early blooming plants that mark the arrival of spring, our yearly sheep shearing day is another indication that our long winter is over. This year our shearing day fell on a rather cold and blustery morning and the sheep had some adjustment from wearing long woolen coats to spring “crew cuts”. They quickly headed for the nearest hoop house to soak up some penetrating sunshine. I do think they feel some relief having their fleeces shorn and appreciate the lightness after a winter of carrying 5-6 pounds of wooly locks around.
Our sheep shearer, Jeff, arrives early to set up and sharpen his shears. I always have a few extra friends around to help catch sheep, skirt fleeces, and then sort each one and put them into the sheets I use for storing . Everyone has a job and the help is really appreciated. I am always excited to see how each fleece has grown. I know what to expect from the older ewes but checking out the fleece quality of the yearlings is always a delight. Those first year fleeces are always the softess, and I look forward to spinning them into delicious and cozy yarn.
Jeff begins shearing at our place and then travels to the surrounding sheep farms in the area to finish out his day. He does a great job taking the fleeces off without getting second cuts. Second cuts are small bits of fiber that end up in the shearing if the fleece is cut over more than once. A good shearer gets the entire fleece off in one piece and tries not to go over an area twice, thus avoiding those little bits of ” fluff” that handspinners don’t like. We love having Jeff because he is so conscientious about the finished product. It makes a difference.
So, twelve fleeces later, all rolled into old bed sheets, the task of washing, picking, and carding awaits. Of course, much of the fiber will be offered for sale ….either in raw form or in roving and some dyed, ready to spin. Folks intersted in Blue Face Leicester wool or yarn can always contact us by email. Once the nursery is open, we have baskets of fiber available for sale and this year we will offer a few kits, containing handspun yarn, needles, and a scarf pattern.
As our spring and summer tasks increase, we look forward to the return of green grass and the next sheep chore…..moving the flock to their summer pasture.
Just a note……… our friend and neighbor Megan Marsanskis came to help this year with shearing. She actually took the photographs ( aside from helping to wrestle sheep when needed) of the event. Megan is working on a photography project documenting rural living in Waldo County. She has been traveling around the area taking pictures of people who continue to practice the traditions and skills of rural life. It is fortunate that here in Waldo County, we are rich in examples . I can’t wait to see her finished work!