24 April 2007

Shearing by hand

Most people call a professional shearer when it is time to get the wool off their sheep. Since McKenzie had already removed half the fleece from Split earlier in the year, though, and I only have five other sheep that need shearing, it didn't really seem worth the trouble to bring someone in.

So ... I got a pair of hand shears, and talked Union Guy into volunteering for Sheep Restraint Duty: he holds the sheep steady, I trim. Trimming a sheep with hand shears takes me anywhere from one to two hours: I am sure it can be done faster, but I'm still learning! Cookie went first, and she looked like a completely different animal when we were done (I don't think she'd ever been shorn!). Natalie was second, and she was very unhappy about the entire process ... perhaps because her lambs were nearby. Brownie was the last we've done, and she was pretty relaxed in comparison ... she struggled some, but her fleece came off in lovely large chunks (I am not yet skilled enough to get a fleece off all in one piece). We put an old carpet down where we were shearing, so her fleece stayed nice and clean.

Unfortunately, the sheep look like they were attacked by a weed whacker when I'm finished with them. They are much cooler, though, and the fleece fluffs back up again after a few days, so they don't look quite so bad. :)

The rams are still not shorn, and they are panting and looking quite miserable, even at temperatures not all that far above zero.

We got plenty of wool from the Icelandic girls, and it is indeed lovely to work with. Brownie's fleece was cleaner and in larger pieces so I tried spinning it directly from the shorn fleece. Wonder of wonders, it worked out! I have several skeins of spun singles washed up and ready to be added to the scarf I am knitting from the fleece taken from my own flock of sheep. What a wonderful feeling to raise the sheep, shear them by hand, prepare the wool entirely on my own, and knit it into something useful!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:35 am

    You will have to knit socks for your cold-footed family members! :-)

    Love, AC


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