Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fabulous Fleece!!!

Wow Wow all I can say.

Sunday I finished the shearing.  Back breaking work that I don't know how the pro's do it so fast and soooo many at at time.  I got down to about 20-30 minutes for each sheep.  I began to realize, as this is my first season of shearing myself, that the better quality the wool and the healthier the animal...the better the shearing goes for everyone.  Including the sheep.

I saved the last three kind of on purpose, and kind of not.  Two of them, the fleece was going back the most recent owner as that was part of our deal.  I wanted to practice on all the other ones before doing hers to do a good job.  My last sheep, the one I call 'wild woman' was last because I couldn't catch her.  So, I did the two I wasn't keeping their fleece.  The first was Tuija and she was a pain!   She wouldn't stand still so I flipped her on her butt and she fought and fought and fought.  She needed her hooves trimmed, too, so those kicking feet seemed lethal!  Not really but, it felt that way every time she got a dig in my arm or neck or whatever skin contact she made with me.
 Tuija with Kaarina in background

If you have ever sheared a sheep on it's butt, you know that you hold them leaning against your legs and work quickly.  This means, you really need two hands while they are leaning on your legs.  Most sheep, just relax and "hang-out" in this position.  NOT Tuija....ugh.. so hard and she was kind of dirty.   Her lambs climb on her a lot and I think this is a good reason for the dirt.  Well, that dirt gunked up my shears pretty fast and that didn't help at all.  Finally, after about 45 minutes, I got her done.  After getting the blanket off her on her butt, I flipped her up to her feet to finish and make all look neat and clean.  (she wasn't on her butt for 45 min) She leads great, though!!

Now, I dreaded Kaarina.  She has been a hard one to catch and hold.  She's big and doesn't like us.  She will stand outside during chores until she knows we are leaving the barn, then bring in her lambs, and eat.  Well, I grabbed a bucket of feed and walked in to 'pretend' to feed.  Don't know why, but she fell for it, walked right up to the feed trough and.....I GRABBED HER!   HAHAHAHHAHA...sucker! 

Kaarina post-shearing.  

Well, got her halter on and got set to drag her down the isle to the shearing tarp.  What do you know, she leads....fantastic!  She screamed for her lambs the whole time but that was all.  I tied her to the wall and she stood perfect for me.  I had her done and cleaned up in about 30 minutes.  Beautiful fleece and easy as pie to take off!  Thanks so much to Tiffany at Woodspryte Finns who picked her from Bella Vita farm with her Firefly background.   She is the best mother and now I know about her wool.  It just melted off her, the way it should be.  She's in great weight and all looks good.  So, after some scratching, thanking her and 'leading' her back to the rest, I was confident to tackle the last beast.

 The photo is Kaarina back with two of her three fat little lambs.  
This is a view I'm very familiar with during grazing...butt shots.

So, I'm standing there, looking at her...while she looks back at me.  This ewe isn't very big, but she's a freak.   She has been since I got her as an 8 week old.  Always eyeing us, always hard to catch.  She also had a bad case of the runs so you can imagine what the backside of this fleece looks like.  (we skirt that out anyway) So, got the grain again and knew she wasn't falling for it, so I went to the stall we sometimes run them into and dumped out the grain and walked away like I was checking the water, the fence, etc, the usual morning routine.  After watching me closely, her love of food overcame her and she slid into the stall.  Got her.  Now, in a 12x12 stall a sheep can still be a handful.  She ran and threw herself into the sides, jumping and running and panicking....that's her new name, by the way. "panic"   I finally got a hold of her by the wool.  Something I hate doing but the only thing I could do.  She's little so I was able to hold her down pretty well, get a halter on for extra safety and now make the 50 foot trek to the shearing area.  We alternated going down the isle running forward like a scared rabbit, lying down as dead weight, to turning around and ramming me out of defense.  It seemed to take forever and how was I going to be able to shear after that workout. 

So, it began.  I sat her on her butt as I didn't want to take any chances.  So, we started and she sat very still with complete panic in her eyes but frozen still.  That's ok, I can work fast and get her back where she goes quicker.  This sheep is listed for sale on my site by the way....LOL!  Good luck!
"Panic" in her rare, calm moment.

I started at the top with the neck wool and it started easy.  Hmmmwatch her wool and see the underneath.  This is what it's all about.  It felt like velvet.  So shiny, so gorgeous, so amazing.  I have never seen anything like it.  I'm no fleece expert by any means but have seen and felt lots of breeds through the years.  About 1/2 way through, about 10 min., I decided she wasn't for sale anymore, not with this fleece.  Black as night, so shiny, so crimped, and soft.  It came off in one whole piece, just like the I watched those guys do for so many sheep in the past.  The whole thing, not just the blanket.  Legs, neck, belly, butt...(heavy skirting later)  but easy easy and my shears were still clean as can be afterward.   She's amazing.  Thanks to Eldorado Finns for this one!  Looks like her background is quite a bit Wee Croft and a little Triple L but through Terri, I got her and she will be name, "Panic" because as soon as I stood her up after a little cheek scratching that she seemed to enjoy....she panicked again!  What a ding-a-ling.

 "Panic" after shearing her fabulous wool!

Not the best photo as I won't be getting close to her anytime soon.  I will get a shot of the fleece when I get to working on it soon.  Maybe next week during my vacation!

 Just look at that staple length.  I can't tell you how gorgeous it is!
I will get a weight and a photo of the luster tomorrow.  I can't wait to get working.
It should be beautiful to spin with the jet black color into the 1 inch sun bleached tips.

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