How the lamb fleeces for the rest of the flock are coming along.

Here’s some lamb pics from earlier this week.

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Clockwise from center, Dottie, Grey, Azula, Clovis and Brunhilde. Ripley is on the edge of the frame.

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Better shot of both Dottie and Brunhilde.

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In this picture are Dottie, Badgerface, Black N Tan, Zuko II, Brunhilde, Clovis and Katara. Goldie’s head is just out of the frame.

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This picture is here because Lisa is. Usually hard to get shots of her.

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Better angle to see the ram lambs.

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Azula and Sokka before we got him separated out. His fleece was recovering well enough to throw us off.

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One of the few shots I could get of Ripley’s amazing frosted fleece. She is hiding behind her momma Grey as she often do.

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Sokka and his sister Toph.

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This one is here because it’s another view of Ripley. That coloration is combined with a fluffy softness.

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One of the rare head on shots of Ripley. She is massive. If I wanted to take a chance on a one winter breeding, she’s definitely the one.

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Rooing the day

Recently we rooed one of the ram lambs, Dingus.  It was a pretty successful experiment, we got a lot of fleece off him.  We are going to try rooing the entire flock and shearing whatever doesn’t roo off ourselves instead of doing a professional spring shear.  This will avoid the “carpet” look of spring fleeces and also provide more open locks for spinning instead of a more felting-friendly dense wool.

I also snagged a few locks from the other rams while feeding them.

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Locks from Scottie, Dingus and Bucky, from left to right. The crumbly bits at the bottoms of the locks are mostly dirt or skin flaking. Both wash right out and are not a processing problem.

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Rooed fleece from Dingus. Looser and more open than if we’d sheared, as it’s the natural wool break, so the denser new growth stays on the sheep instead of matting.

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More of Dingus’ fleece. It looks a lot more like the fall shearing this way, which is why if an Icelandic shepherd can roo their flock, it’s really a great way to collect the spring wool.

 

 

What we did today (Fall Shearing Day)

shaftfleeceSix pounds of Shaft’s unskirted Icelandic wool, fresh off the sheep.  We also got the other 12 sheared and hoof trimmed.  They have held up pretty well the last few weeks.

The shearer we used this time was a very professional guy from Concrete, Pierre Monnat.  He was careful with the sheep and did nice work.

I finished my own addition to the farm, a little boy who is growing ridiculously fast.

I’m still pretty tired, so that’s all for now.  But we do now have some raw fall fleeces.  They are softer than the spring clips and it will be interesting times preparing the best ones for sale.

 

Scenes from my first week combing out raw Icelandic fleece

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What I started with, some rooed locks that have been washed and picked of most of the VM, but there was still a little left.

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Closeups of what I finished with.  Not sure if this is what I am supposed to end up with, but that’s why it’s a learning process.

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This is the fluff left behind that is too short to do anything with but use as stuffing or kill mulch.  It looks like a higher loss rate than it is.

 

 

Little Shaft is rooing too, it turns out.

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.

Not quite how I was expecting to get some wool to work

This was what I came into the house with.

This was what I came into the house with.

This is what happened after some time in the warm, dry house.

This is what happened after some time in the warm, dry house.

Bucky is rooing like crazy, so we might not get to shear him after all, but instead end up with a giant pile of hanks that have to be turned into something higher-value or tossed in the old compost heap.

I’ll probably have more off him throughout the week.  It’s not as hay-full as I thought it would be, so there’s that.