Sheep Shearing is Harder than it Looks
First, Thank-you everyone, for the messages of support. It means a lot to me.
Now, on to the fun stuff! We went to a sheep shearing clinic sponsored by the San Juan Wool Growers Association, because wool producers have a hard time finding shearers to come out. Doug, of La Plata Farms and his daugther Cassie showed us 2 methods of shearing.
Then, Nate got to try his hand at it.
The sheep, a Rambouillet/Columbia cross ewe:
Shearing! Doug is helping Nate secure the sheep with his feet. Sheep are funny, if you grab them and pull them, they fight back. Instead, you push them and restrain them by positioning them in such a way so that they actually can't get up unless you move.
Nate is using a pair of Shearmaster clippers, there were a few people at the clinic with us, that had only ever sheared with the traditional hand shears.
The ewe, laying on her fleece, with her new summer 'do! The goal is to shear the belly, legs, and lower neck/face first and put that wool into the skirtings pile. Then, shear off the sides, back and upper neck in one piece, this is the fleece.
I brought home a few locks to test spin, to give me a better idea of fleece to yarn wool characteristics. Washed, they are almost pure white! Man, they looked creamy colored to me before the bath.
The washed and flick carded locks spun up into a nice yarn. All purpose garment quality, soft, but not as soft as merino. Socks, hats, sweaters would all be excellent from this wool.
AND...last, but definitely not least...I bring you, a package from the wonderful Valkryie. She stepped in and did something wonderful for me.
As you can see, that is FOUR skeins of handpainted sock yarn, kinds I've never tried! Bath fizzies, chocolate, a really cool magnet set, and an awesome black sheep ornament (did you knit this?) were all in the package. Thank-you again, I love it all!