A Fiber-Filled Diet

I mentioned in the previous post that the fleeces from Martha and Earl Scruggs, my Merino x Corriedale x Cormo sheep with super-fine wool, were in regrettably poor condition.  Because they don’t live in a “real sheep facility” but instead an awkward under-shed area, they were exposed to more hay and water than others. Water and hay did serious damage, though most of the issue related to dirt in the fleece.

Notes for next year:  Sheep covers and more care during feeding!

I skirted the fleeces heavily two days ago.  By “skirted” I should say I composted about 1/3 of each fleece, and designated about 1/3 as worthy of going to the fiber mill.  The middle third, too dirty for the mill but too nice to throw away, is now in limbo.

I tried scouring some, but the extreme fineness of the fleece caused it to lightly felt even without agitation and I wasn’t pleased with the result.  I am now flick-carding it by hand, slowly, to remove hay and separate the locks.  With just a few strokes, the fibers are releasing their dirt and the fiber should be useable!  I am mainly concerned about how well the grease will come out if I spin it in the grease, pre-scour.  We shall see.  I am excited to try spinning a little – the fleece is INCREDIBLY SOFT! If you think you might be interested in some carefully hand-carded fleece, email me at sheepandpickle at gmail dot com.

 

Fine wool for sale at Sheep and Pickle Farm
A bag of unwashed, carded locks. They are *so* soft!

 

I’ve talked a little about how fine this fleece is in micron-terms.  Let me reiterate:  It feels like silk or cotton.  It makes my regular fleece feel like a brillo pad, even though by any other standard it is very soft.  This is clearly a luxury fiber, and whoever buys it will be spoiling themselves rotten.

 

Sheep and Pickle Farm Fine Wool
Earl, Martha and Shirley, top to bottom. Shirley’s no slouch, but Earl is incredibly fine!
Sheep and Pickle Farm Breeding Stock
Here’s a little warning about what comes next. Peggy is just about ready to lamb. Her udder is bigger than the udders of some of our dairy goats!