We haven’t quite started shearing season yet, but since we had to kill Fergus early, and we sheared him before we butchered him to save his fleece, we are ready to share about that fleece already.
He was only at 8 months of growth, instead of his usual 12 months, so the fleece was shorter, and weighed less than last year because of that. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful fleece with good length for spinning to yarn in the mill. The shearing went really smoothly, because he was already deceased at the time, so there were not many second cuts and I had very little skirting work ahead of me.
His fleece was a lot cleaner this year, since he was jacketed the full growth of it. That also helped my skirting job be so much easier this year than last. The colors seemed to contrast each other more this year too – the dark grey seemed a lot darker and the silver a lot lighter. I think this has to do with being jacketed as well, his fleece at skirting last year was dirtier and thus the silver didn’t look as light until after washing.
Fergus was a Merino x BFL with a tiny bit of CVM. His fleece has a mix of dark, medium, and light shades of grey. It is a very soft, medium to long fleece with very organized crimp. It is also light on grease, which makes it easier to get clean.
Generally, long wool fleece grow a lot faster and are thus longer, but are usually a rougher texture and not suitable for clothing items that are directly on your skin because of the itch factor. Short wool fleece are generally finer and softer, making them not have the itch factor. But they grow slower and so the staple length is shorter and can make it a lot harder to spin them into yarn. And they can be very heavy with grease, making them take more effort to clean. So we have been cross-breeding our sheep long wool to short wool to try to get a nice length but still have the fine softness as well. Fergus was a perfect example of what we are trying for. His fleece turned out just how we were hoping when we bred his mom, Fiona, who is a Merino with a little bit of CVM (short wool breeds) with a BFL (longwool breed) ram.
This year, Fergus’ raw skirted fleece weighed 3.9 lbs.
Being that this will be our last ever Fergus fleece, Mtn Man and I are feeling some pressure about making the yarn just perfect. I LOVE using Fergus’ yarn, and never sell it because I want to use it myself. I will share with you once we have decided and have finished his yarn.
Another beautiful fleece, sadly the last from Fergus.