Saturday, April 9, 2011


I've taken many pictures of fleeces throughout the skirting, washing, picking, bagging, brow beating myself for the amount of vegetable matter (VM) in some many of them stages, but I've been so busy that by the time I get back in the house at the end of the day, they've tended to sit in the camera waiting for someone better organized, more productive to rescue them.

Here are two early favorites - Rebecca Boone (Cotswold) in the foreground and Heidi (Jacob) in the back. It was purely coincidental that two very similarly colored fleeces were side by side and I was struck by all the colors of gray ranging from almost white to almost black.

Grayscale. Different from black and white. Learned that the hard way trying to scan and print the back of our first Christmas card. Scroll back and forth between these two pictures. If you eliminate the bright colored wood of the drying rack, the wools are almost identical.

Only in color though. If you look closely (or could feel them) you'll see there is no way to confuse the two.

See how Rebecca Boone's big, loopy curls contrast with Heidi's "fuzzy" crimp?

These two fleeces are in pretty good order. Several of them - some of our favorite sheep - are not. Buddy. Boudreaux. Henrietta. Graham Lamb. Even Keebs. And I'm not all the way through.

While I was sick over the winter, there were several days when I was happy just to drag myself to the barn twice a day to check on everyone and feed. Trying to spread hay out so all 30 sheep got enough to eat sometimes required my tossing hay out over their heads to reach less aggressive sheep in the back.

I love our sheep's curly, fuzzy, short, long, soft, wiry coats of many colors. I love that each year I feel that I get better at putting out a handspinning product that we are all proud of. I love to see the beautiful things people do with our wool. This might not happen much this year.

I knew better. But couldn't help it. If I have to choose between warm, well fed sheep and clean fleeces, I'm always going to choose warm and well fed. The hay that got embedded along their backs has "ruined" some nice fleeces.

I have these sheep because I love sheep. I love listening to them munch on hay on a cold winter's night, rustling around to find the best pieces. I love to listen to them calling out to me in the morning and knowing who's voice is who. I love to sit out with them on a sunny (winter) afternoon or a warm spring evening.

I love that Keebler still likes me to brush his hair back off his forehead like I did when he was a baby. I love how B. Willard paws me when I stop scratching his back. How Mia taps me (and Renny punches me) on the leg asking for cookies.

The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. So the fleeces aren't great this year. If we were just in this to raise fleeces then I'd be devastated. I'm disappointed, but not devastated. There's a difference.

Joking to someone the other day I said I feel like this wool could be called Take A Sheep to Lunch because that's what you are going to feel like after spinning it. Some VM will shake out, some will comb or card out, some will fall out on your lap as you spin, some won't fall out at all. Not so great. Or is it?

While I'd much rather spin a flawless fleece, I've taken Buddy out to lunch. I know how cute he is when he's eating. I've eaten lunch with Boudreaux and watched him pick bits of hay off other sheep's backs. Sadly no one thinks to do that to him.

Just as our mothers hung up some pretty bad artwork on their refrigerators when we were kids, I too wouldn't dream of tossing Buddy's pretty curls. It's just going to take some extra work to clean them up. I've got an idea though.

Would you like to take a sheep to lunch?


Alice said...

I would take a sheep to lunch
One alone or in a bunch.
Even with vegetable matted hair
I would take them anywhere!

I would take Renny for some hay
I would take Keebler every day.
I'd feed them cookies from a can
And I'd be happy Lamb I Am.

~Tonia~ said...

Sure let me know what/how I can help. Nothing wrong with some VM that could possibly comb out, if not it is the character of the wool. I was told by an Alpaca breeder that they want some VM in their yarns as it makes it look more "real". LOL

K. Crane: Big Fat Art Cloth said...

that's an awesome rhyme Alice. I'm taken with how sheep are people too.

Peacecat said...

I'd love to take a sheep to lunch! I love your post, the description of your sheep and how precious they are to're just like any parent - full of love, a bit of heartache...but it's all worth it.

June said...

Me, too! I'd love to take a sheep to lunch. I don't mind spinning with some VM at all. I'm slow at spinning, but I get there eventually. I wish I could have sheep here! Love the poem, Alice!

Teresa said...

Pretty grayscales. I must say I find all this talk of wool interesting as it is something I know nothing about.

Haley said...

A lot of fancy yarn has some VM in it. I'm used to it. If you make quilts of know anyone who quilts, you can have it made into super-warm quilting bats, where the VM would be irrelevant.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Wheee! Alice wins :-D.

janna Edrington said...

Well said!

Lori Skoog said...

In a heartbeat! Alice! What a great poem!!!! Sara. Your attitude wins because of the real love you have for your sheep. Let's see how it all comes out in the end. In the meantime, continue to enjoy them...the lucky ducks.

Nancy K. said...

I'd prefer no VM in my fleeces as well ~ but if that's the worst thing that happens this year, it will be a mighty fine year!

Jody said...

The more I work with the sheep the more I come to know their different personalities (especially the lambs who are hard to tell apart once the little coats are off). They are very affectionate and loving..more than I could ever know. Most people don't understand that about sheep. The wonderful fleece is just icing on the cake :-)

tonya said...

I've had a similiar dilema.. every year! lol. I've thought of bagging it as core wool -"stuffin" "cause there's stuff'n it!"

DayPhoto said...

I love Alice's comment...I too would be happy has a Lamb, I am!


cyndy said...

Lovely Grays!

(most likely will be worth the extra effort!)


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