Friday, May 07, 2010
A few days before Maryland Sheep & Wool Fest, we arranged to have the sheep sheared of their heavy coats. It's great to be able to take the fleeces to the large trailer that Frankenmuth Woolen Mill brings to the festival and save all that money (like $80) on shipping it to Michigan (where their mill is). This photo is the before pic, where they're laden with pounds and pounds of gorgeous locks. This is the longest it's ever been as I usually shear in April and October, but have not sheared since last April. And were they ever happy to get their coats off as the temps soared to the 90's on the weekend.
Farmer Anne comes to the farm to shear and we love her. She talks to the girls, calms them down and is very gentle. Except when my sheep turn into demon sheep. I did hear a few words that weren't too calming but hey, I said them too. It really isn't fun to be kicked in the face with pointy hooves.
She puts the sheep into contorted poses.
One of our farm cats (although he'd rather be referred to as a 'house cat') took in the scene from the grandstands.
...and caught a little shut eye. Either that or he had to shut his eyes when the sheep were showing a bit too much on the underside.
One very funny (to me anyway) tendency for sheep to do after they've been sheared is to butt heads to establish the pecking (butting) order again. Sheep get used to the way they look in their wool but once they're naked, they don't recognize each other and have to show who is dominant. For years it was Mocha, my old ewe who died recently so I was curious to see who would be "Queen of the Field" in 2010.
After a few playful butts, then looking away, then back to a more aggressive skull knocking, the superior (best head butterer) ewe walked away with the prize. I don't know what the prize is, maybe just the reigning title of Supreme Ewe. This year's title goes to Mochacinno, Mocha's daughter. Go figure. It's in the genes. (no photo of the queen, sorry)
And this is Brambles, my oldest ewe (going on 19 years). She did not participate in any head butting (smart girl!) as she'd probably become airborne as she weighs less than a nickle. I just love to see her sheared as she is now a puzzle of "what objects can you see in those spots?"
One of my fleeces weighed in at 16 lbs.!!!! Now that's a heavy coat to be carrying around on those days where it's been high 80's. That's a large coffee can to give you an idea of how big the fleece is. All the wool is skirted (taking off all the dingle berries, the poop that clings on to their behinds, although a couple of my ewes have award-winning dingle melons that sound like those wooden wind chimes when they run!), the belly wool thrown off (the dirty underside), sorted by color, and all stuffed into multiple bags and on its way to Michigan to be washed and carded into delightful soft roving for me to turn into yarn. Happy day!