Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blizzard has a haircut!

Recently, I noticed that Blizzard's fleece had begun to shed, so I decided it was time to roo him. Now, for those of you who aren't sheep people, you're probably saying "What does that mean?" It's a question I asked a couple of months ago when I first saw the word used in reference to fleece, so I didn't know either! Some breeds of sheep have fleece that begins to shed naturally, when it reaches a certain length. Shetland sheep and Icelandic sheep in particular are known for this. To "roo" a sheep means that you pluck its fleece out by hand. You can just kind of pull at it and it comes out in your hands. Our first 3 Icelandics were not shorn in the fall because, by the time we bought them, it was too late to shear them. Thus, their fleece is VERY long and it's not surprising that they are shedding it.

Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago I had purchased a set of hand shears - not the electric clippers, but the "scissor" type of shears. I also purchased a "deck chair" for sheep, having seen one on another blog, and I thought it would be useful. I can't remember whose blog it was, but I asked them about it, so if it was your blog, let me know so I can link to it! Sure enough, it was VERY useful.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures from the process itself. That's because I was doing the rooing (and shearing) and Kelly was holding on to Blizzard with every muscle in his body! Several times, even though Blizzard was in the "deck chair" he nearly got out, and Kelly had to wrestle him. Then, when I had to do his back end, Kelly sat on him while I did the shearing. He is an extremely strong ram. Oh, I also trimmed all his hooves while we were at it. During one of his hissy fits, he kicked hard, and managed to make me stab my hand with the hoof trimmers. Sharp!! Wow!! Blood everywhere!! (mine, not his)

So, here's the final product!

All the areas that are sort of soft and cloud-like are the roo'd areas.

As you can see, not the entire fleece was ready to roo, so I had to shear some places (namely on the chest area and his hind quarters. I guess it's OK for my first try.

I left the belly area alone and will let our real shearer do that when he shears our other girls later this month. You can see below he had a little area on his right side that wasn't roo-able, so I sheared it too.

What do you think sheep feel when they've been sheared? Are they embarrassed around the other, unsheared sheep? Does he feel less of a "man" in front of his ladies? This is Flurry, below, and she's still in full fleece. Behind her is Poppy, but her fleece doesn't get as long as the Icelandic breed.
I hope he feels more comfortable now. I have a big bag of fleece to take to the processor. I'm not sure if it will be good for processing because it was roo'd but we'll see.

Thank you so much to Deb at Antiquity Oaks, who posted her Creme Brulee Pie recipe. I altered it slightly, using a little less sugar, and omitting the turbinado sugar, but adding a teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg. Next time I'm going to add a splash of Amaretto! Anyway, it was wonderful and Kelly ate it too!

Finally, I leave you with a lovely sunset from last night - crossed jet trails and a glowing orb. The same orb that gave me a sunburn on March 21st, in IOWA!!! Crazy....


JLB said...

I know you wanted someone to ask this so I guess I'll be the first...Whats rooing?? Whats the difference between that and shearing? Other than the look after?

Beautiful sunset!

Claire said...

JLB, sorry, I have now clarified in the first paragraph. Rooing a sheep is when you pull out its fleece by hand, by plucking, rather than by shearing. You can only do this if the fleece is already beginning to shed naturally, which is not common on most sheep breeds.

Christy said...

That deck chair is awesome! It is going on my wish list. It will make working with sheep so much easier.

Lola Nova said...

Man, your hands must be sore what with the rooing and the stabbing, yikes! I'm gonna have to try that pie, my husband is famous for his creme brulee and I bet he'd like that. Beautiful photo of the sunset.

We are fortunate in the Northwest to have year round green but, we will be putting up with a lot more rain before we get that orb.

Take care

Deborah said...

Glad to know you enjoyed the recipe! Great idea to try some amaretto.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Wish we had the stamina that you two have.

On our Irish Terriers, we are to "strip" the coat rather than use electric clippers. They don't shed, so they say, but maybe they actually would if the coat went long enough.

I think you got deck-chair idea from NancyK at Shepard's Voice. I would like to have one for my goats, hoof trimming.

On Twitter you say that Kelly lost his job? If we didn't need two incomes, I wish Mike could stay home, he's a good house husband.

Jennifer said...

What a handsome fellow he is! Beautiful horns!

Mom L said...

I loved the earlier photo of Blizzard in all his fleecy glory, but I imagine he feels much better now. But I'm so sorry for your hand! How is it today?

I'm sorry about Kelly's situation, but with all the things you two have going on I'm sure you'll be fine.


Nancy K. said...

What a beautiful job of rooing! And your ram is gorgeous!!

Just so you know ~ roo'ed fleece is NOT inferior in any way! In fact it's taken at the perfect time and I find that because it's removed 'lock by lock' instead of in a one piece 'mat', it is much cleaner! The VM (vegetable matter ~ bits of hay, etc. ) tends to fall out as you pull each lock. I suspect you've got a bucket or bag of some VERY lovely fleece there....

d/iowa said...

OMG blizzard! you look so funny. i mean gorgeous.
i'm glad i got to meet you before the haircut!

nice sunset shot claire!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

GORGEOUS sunset -- and a pretty decent shearing/rooing job, too!

Mom L said...

Things I forgot to say: the sunset is beautiful! And in that one picture of Blizzard after the rooing and stuff, I swear he's asking you, "Look what you did to my social life!"

He might also be saying my WV: plerooi!!!

Yellow Jacket Ridge Angoras said...

That was such an interesting post! His fleece looks so soft where it has rooed. At one time I thought about getting Icelandic sheep but my husband shut me down pretty quick on that one.

kenleighacres said...

Great job! I spent the afternoon shearing a few of my sheep too :) No rooing here though! He is a handsome dude. I hope your hand is feeling better - OUCH!

Ishtar said...

That was really cool! I love how much I learn from reading your blog! Won't be rooing any sheep myself though since sheep here don't have whool - now that's one way for nature to solve heat problems!

Blue Goose Farms said...

Awesome blog! I would love to see a picture of a sheep in the chair. We have two Ewe crosses with Icelandic in them and it is insane how long their Wool gets. We are seriously thinking about shearing them twice a year.
I do not think your Ram minds at all, as long as he has those long legged Ladies around ;)

Farm Chick Paula said...

Beautiful sunset, Claire! The pie looks WONDERFUL.
It's funny you mentioned that about the sheep after they're sheared- our Daisy and Edie each react so differently to the situation- Edie jumps for joy as if to say "I'm free!" but Daisy just stands around looking like "What just happened, and why is it so drafty in here all of a sudden?" LOL

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Gorgeous sunset and sky photo!!

My sheep seem to feel better after being sheared. They get a friskiness in their step and seem happy to lose all that wool. :)

You did a pretty good job rooing your sheep.
Thanks for passing along that pie recipe. I've got lots of eggs right now and will be trying this soon. Yummo!