I’ve been so busy with baby goats that I’ve hardly had a chance to think about shearing, but here we are!
Mary came at 11 and the sheep were all conveniently penned, with the shearing board handy. Mary sheared the white sheep first to prevent contamination from white fibers. Valentine’s fleece came out fine but light. Agnes’ fleece was hay-filled, but heavy, rich and buttery like her Cormo sire’s. Ida had a lovely, long staple and large crimp. Shirley is as big and fine as ever, but with a few small yet troubling bald spots. Bonnie is huge, wide and very pregnant.
Among the black sheep, Esther has a dark chocolate fleece that’s just gorgeous. I can’t wait to see it spun. Peggy’s fleece is abundant and long. And Dot, lovely Dot, showed her her lovely steel gray which will be sent to four different people across the country for handspinning. I can’t wait to hear what they think of it!
Mom, Dad, Priscilla and I skirted and sorted the fleece into Prime, Seconds, “Wool Pool” and tags. The first category will be sold to handspinners. The second category will make a very nice commercial yarn. “Wool Pool ” wool isn’t good enough for my yarn but may fetch a few dollars through the Vermont Wool Pool, where the tags will go separately for a small sum. Our fingers froze as we worked through the wool, but we kept up with Mary’s rapid shearing.
I called Michael Hampton at Hampton Fiber Mill and he said he could fit me in at 3 that afternoon – that’s a quick turnaround! Then I realized we hadn’t addressed the sheep up at my house. I explained guiltily to Mary that I’ve had a really hard time maintaining their cleanliness, and their wool would take a lot of sorting and care. Mary was up for the challenge as we set up special lighting to allow her to shear in the shed. Unfortunately, the plywood I thought I’d use for her to stand on was completely frozen to the ground and wouldn’t budge. Thanks, recent giant snowstorm! Mary sheared them on the ground, which probably didn’t harm the fleece considering the heavy dirt-load Earl and Martha succeeded in gathering. They are getting coated tomorrow morning, early!
We packed up the car rapidly and zoomed off to Richmond. My visit with Michael was shorter this time, as he has the specs of my yarn and just needed to discuss color. I showed him samples of the two finer-wooled sheep, and he agreed that a nice sport-weight yarn would be in order, so get ready for a new gauge of yarn from Sheep and Pickle Farm!
Here are some more pictures from the day: