Saturday, August 27, 2022

And That's A Wrap...For Now

This is the last fleece I'm washing for awhile! *

I actually thought I was finished yesterday.  I took down the pre-rinse table, swept the wash room floor, stacked up all the laundry baskets, went into the skirting area just to inventory what was left...and found one more fleece. 

I'd looked at it last week when I was gathering up Ewen McTeagle fleeces, but didn't see a card with it and thought it felt too soft to be Ewen, so I set it aside thinking it was probably Burrnie.  I still felt like it was not likely to be Ewen, but something made me pick the bag up once again and turn it over.  The tag had fallen to the bottom.

Since the tag has a question mark on it, it was obviously not his original tag from skirting.  The Ewen fleeces are old and after several years of cats and chickens climbing in them and wind blowing them around, it's not impossible to lose a tag. When I'd rebagged this fleece, I must have questioned the sheep just as I was again yesterday.

But then I saw this tiny cluster of dark hairs.  That's a great clue, but sometimes stray hairs get picked up from the shearing board.  I dug a little deeper...

...and found this.  If you click to biggify, you'll see a little gray wool with some dark hair mixed in.  It's Ewen McTeagle :-).  This wool and hair was shorn from just around his face, where the dark hair from his head turns into the white wool on his body.  If it had been Burrnie, the only other short wooled sheep here, the hair would have been red.  

As far as the extra softness, I'm guessing this was one of his earlier fleeces.  I sheared him myself in 2019 so I know I didn't save that fleece.  I sent the nicest one of his fleeces off for the Lamb Camp bottle lamb yarn.  There were five fleeces left here.  Counting back I think this might have been his 2013 shear when he was just six years old.  

So Ewen wasn't the softest sheep on the farm.  It sure didn't matter.  I loved that dear sheep just the way he was.  And while he might not make a fancy knitted garment, he's going to be great fluffed into a couple of cozy comforters that we can tuck around ourselves this winter. 

* * * * *

* Why does it sound like I'm tired of washing wool?  Because I might be a little tired of washing wool ;-).

Normally I try to sell as many raw fleeces after shearing as I can.  This brings in some quick cash to cover spring vet work and shearing bills and clears a shelf or two.  With Covid throwing a wrench into that plan, I had a huge stash of wool here.  Some sheep had three years of fleeces stockpiled.  

I knew I needed to do something and decided it would be much more fun to market fresh roving than raw wool so I started washing.  I have washed 34 fleeces this summer!  220 pounds of raw wool, averaging 6.47 pounds per sheep.  11 of the fleeces weighed at least 9.5 pounds.  

While they were all fun to handle, there were a few special treats.  I've never washed some of those sheep before...the ones who get snatched up right away at the festivals - Murphy, Spud, Levi, Rocky, Big Moose, Mini Moose...  I knew they were nice fleeces, but now I know exactly how nice they are.  

Big Moose was so beautiful I couldn't even bring myself to send him off to be processed into roving.  I'll just keep looking at and playing with those curls for a bit longer.  

Of the 34 fleeces, 28 are being processed.  The five Ewen fleeces are going into quilt batting and everyone else will be ready to spin roving.  That's a lot of roving, so if you are thinking about gearing up for some fall spinning, I hope you'll keep our flock in mind.  

I think a fall farm spinning day and sale (in person and virtual) would be fun.  Stay tuned :-).


Far Side of Fifty said...

Oh those curls! :)

Michelle said...

So what is happening with the six fleeces that AREN'T being processed?

thecrazysheeplady said...

One is Big Moose and I'll probably sell some packages of curls.

Another is Pinto - it's an "okay" fleece, but I think I can use it for finished goods (like felted sheep or ornaments) and make a bit more money from it to pay into his pension.

Short Round - I'll probably spin just a bit of her for something special and the rest will be better as stuffing or felting.

Buddy, Woolliam, Keebler...I may end up running Keebler, but the straight Cotswolds are easy and fun to card up myself and then I don't run the risk of roving felting down into itself in storage, especially if a cat sleeps on it ;-).

sheepmom said...

Beautiful curls. Hope they find a home. Love seeing yours photos.

karen said...

that is a lot of wool to be washing!! The fiber looks so beautiful and I wish there was smelling aspects on the computer :)

Arieth said...

A lot of work! Those curls are so pretty.


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