Monday, March 30, 2009

Shearing Day!

A very busy day indeed! What excitement here on the farm. It was our very first shearing day. I was really looking forward to it, and it wasn't a disappointment. Ray Schweindefus, our shearer, arrived promptly at 9 am, and the fun began. It took a little while to get set up and ready to go, but once we had our plan, off we went!

First up....Oreo the Icelandic sheep. She had the shortest fleece. She behaved very well - an old pro at this!

We moved on to KitKat. I think she's a moorit?

Here's Bianca the Icelandic after her shearing. Ray predicted she would be the first to lamb.

Clover is our Icelandic sheep due April 27. She just doesn't look very pleased about this.

Wow! Who knew such a snazzy looking sheep was hiding under all that fleece!
I think she might have been the offspring of a sheep and a dalmatian!
This is sweet little Poppy. She is such a gentle girl and so well behaved. She is a Suffolk - Dorset - Rambouillet cross sheep. I just love her long tail. She looks so different sheared! What a cute girl she is!

This is Flurry the Icelandic. I think she's a moorit. She has a lovely caramel coloured face and she had a caramel coloured fleece, but she seems to have lost that color deeper down on her fleece, so maybe she has turned white now.

Here she is all finished up. She still has brown legs and a brown face.

We moved on to the two Animal Rescue League sheep: Petunia and Buttercup. Wow, they look fabulous! The skin problems they initially had, due to the burrs that were all over them, have all cleared up. They look terrific! Ray thinks they are a cross of Montedale and maybe Cotswold or Lincoln. He also said they're a bit overweight.

We sheared the 4 angora goats - Valentino, Isobelle, Cirrus and Meri. Here's a picture of Isobelle being clipped.
The girls did well but Valentino was a big challenge. Ray said he was the second hardest shearing job he'd ever done. Unfortunately, his fleece had matted and felted to him. It probably was not shorn last fall. It was so tough, the electric clippers could not get through it. Ray had to use his hand shears (like huge scissors) to get through some of it. Poor Val got some nicks and cuts because it was like cutting through plastic in some places. We will shear him again this fall to remove all the nasty bits, which should grow out over the summer, and then after that, the next fleece should be a good one. His fleece was lovely and crimpy, but it had the texture of a plastic dish scrubbing pad. I bet it was uncomfortable for him, so I think he's glad to be sheared.

Finally, we moved on to the llamas. It was hard to take pictures because they were not particularly pleased with the shearing process. However, here is Hazel in a moment of good behavior!

Meanwhile, I've been spinning some lovely "Nassau" hand-painted roving from Wooliebullie on Etsy. Love the colours!

Tonight we had a meeting for the Des Moines Area Community College committee that we participate in. That was after my evening class. I'm tired and verging on cranky, so it's off to bed for me. I hope all our newly shorn critters have a warm night!


kenleighacres said...

Clover is the coolest looking sheep! Poppy is the cutest, I usually don't like sheep with tails but she is an exception :) Wow - goats, sheep, and llamas all in one day!!! You have a great shearer.

Mom L said...

Oh, Sweetie, what a day you, Kelly and the woolly critters had! Not to mention Ray's work!! Your lovely creatures must feel tons better now, and I imagine it's fun watching their fleece grow back. I hope you have enough good stuff to work with - sounds like you do.

This city girl is still fascinated by the difference between a fuzzy sheep and the results after shearing - it's hard to believe their legs are so long under all that fleece! I imagine big fuzzy balls with 3" legs.

Now I understand the wonder in Diane's eyes and voice when she was 3 and her Dad, an undercover Berkeley cop at the time, clipped then shaved his beard. She just stared, then said, "My Daddy has a chin like I have a chin!" Well, your sheepies have legs like I have legs!!!


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Whew! That's a lot of critters to be sheared. I bet those guys slept good last night, too.
My llamas are due for a shearing this Spring and I'm so not looking forward to it. I did buy a spit mask just to be prepared, though! lol!

We won't be able to do any shearing up here until after May because we usually get snowfalls until then.

You're probably up to your neck now in bags of wool to clean and process!
It's not as much fun as your pretty spinning of lovely clean roving.


BlueGate said...

I expected to hear that you were so tired that you just cuddled up in all those bags of dirty fleece and slept through the night!

Yellow Jacket Ridge Angoras said...

Oh my gosh you are doing beautifully spinning! I'm impressed and a bit surprised how quickly you have picked up on it. Well done girlfriend.

Lola Nova said...

wow! what a day. Look at all your lovely critters, so sweet and ready for Spring.

That yarn is beautiful, you are a natural, it's so even and stunning!

d/iowa said...

omg what a lot of work!!
they all look hilarious-i mean beautiful?- now.

poor hazel, i wonder if it was her poop i took a pic of?
clover looked pissed!

Corinne R. said...

Love the nekked sheep pictures! Glad that you got everyone done without incident. I am sure Petunia and Buttercup, especially, feel much better!
I am assuming Icelandic colors are similar to Shetlands, Flurry looks like what would be musket in Shetlands (Ag fading gene).

Ishtar said...

What a day! The sheep are so cute after shearing!! Wondering what the end result of a llama is?

Claire said...

Kenleighacres - yes, he was super, and even gave us tips on trimming feet and pasture setup.

Nancy - yes, I definitely have enough fleece to last me for a while!! It was the first close-up shearing for me except I have seen it at the State Fair. It's different that close though, and when it is your own animals. I loved it! And I loved your Diane story! That's so cute!

Lisa! A spit mask?! No way! Where did you find that?! We would love one for next time!

Bluegate - Shhhh! I don't need a reputation as being any more of a crazy woman!

Thanks YJA Ridge and Lola Nova for your comments on my spinning. I think I'm doing well with it because I enjoy it so much. The fiber "speaks" to me somehow.

Diane - it was the communal llama latrine - I'm sure everybody was represented! LOL!

Corinne! Thank you, I had forgotten about that Ag gene that you described to me. Now it all comes back!

Ishtar - we only did barrel cuts on the llamas - I will post a pic. It helps keep them cool. Our shearer said he'd heard that shearing them all over can make them very depressed and they can get sick or die. I have to look this up. I didn't know.

jeanmarie said...

Looks like a ful day and then some!! Wow! I love the dalmatian/sheep. Wonderful!! You will now have to master knitting to make them all sweaters! How cute would that be? I would love a day in your life. (just one) because it would probably kill me. hehehe Have a great day!

girlwithasword said...

wow what a day! Thanks for the great pics! You will LOVE spinning fiber from your own animals, I am sure of it!! :)

Mare said...

Claire! All your wooly critters look so GOOD! Petunia and Buttercup must feel like they died and went to Heaven! You've done an amazing job with them and all of your animals. You are such a blessing to them all...And your spinning is fantastic!

Flartus said...

What a job that was! I'm very impressed with everyone's stamina. I'm also impressed that you had enough energy--both physical and mental--to share such a long, lovely post about it.