He’s just rooing from the neck out, which is hard to keep clean, plus he loves bramble more, so it’s harder to pull usable wool from him. I may just have to get the shearer down in March if possible, as soon after lambing as I can manage, to avoid wrecking the ewes’ fleeces, since they might start rooing sooner than expected too.
Icelandics, being a primitive breed, naturally shed in the spring (though on an individual basis this can be anywhere from January to June). They can still be sheared, but the heavy shedding (rooing) leads to a wool break and if you mistime the shearing, you end up with a lanolin-gummy, felted mess instead of market-usable wool.
And if they roo easily and freely, you can just pull it all off and watch the new wool come in with no shearing required. Although generally people like to shear just to be on the safe side since rooing cleanly is no guarantee.
I’m piling up what I pull off for now somewhere dry and warm, but this weekend I’ll start soaking the wool and preparing to work with it after it’s had the bits of hay and dirt and bramble removed. We were going to do hand carding, but it looks like we’ll be using combs and (possibly) a drum carder instead. Provided the weekend of soaking and cleaning goes ok, the next steps are to comb it up into roving or even go all the way to yarn. Whatever I end up with, it will be lopi (both layers of the Icelandic’s two-layer wool blended together) as I am not experienced enough handling the wool to easily separate tog and thel (the two layers, thel being the soft under-layer and tog being the top layer).
Shaft’s wool, the few small tufts I pulled, is really really soft and rich in touch. Even the pieces that are possibly beyond saving (we’ll see after a good day or two of soaking) have a good handle despite being full of bramble and hay bits. Both rams have thel soft enough to make baby clothes with, it’s easily that soft, if I could separate it cleanly and get enough off both of them. Which means they’ve been getting enough to eat and make the most of their excellent genetics.