Shearing season is officially over here at Willow Creek Farm as we sheared our last 2 sheep this week. Remi and Maggie are new to our farm and thus this is their first shearing with us. They did not have a full year of growth – more like 10-11 months – so we expect next year’s fleeces to be a bit longer.
Sunshine did part of Maggie’s shearing, which made the 3rd sheep she has partially shorn this year. Fun!
Since Maggie is Blue’s twin, and Remi is Daisy’s half-sib, we expected these two fleece to be very similar to those two – boy were we wrong! These two fleece were the heaviest from all the dairy sheep. Not so surprising for Remi, who is the largest dairy sheep, but very surprising for Maggie, who is the smallest dairy sheep.
Remi is a white, East Friesan/Lacaune mix with a tiny bit of Polypay and North County Cheviot mixed in too. He is a yearling, so this is his “baby” fleece.
Remi had the heaviest dairy fleece this year, weighing in at 2.4 lbs raw skirted.
We found his fleece to be pretty mediocre as far as fleece go – which is not unexpected since he is a dairy sheep and thus the focus for his breeding has been dairy traits, not necessarily wool. It had very little crimp, was not very soft, but had a good staple length at 4.25 inches. It was nicely dense, which is a good quality. Hopefully, as we carefully choose who to breed him to, we can improve the fleece somewhat in his offspring.
Because of the quality of the fleece, we wont be even trying to process it to yarn as we are with the other dairy fleece this year. It will become roving to be used to braid rugs.
Maggie is a dark brown, East Friesan/Cotswold mix, with a tad bit of Lacaune and North County Cheviot mixed in. She is a yearling, so this is her baby fleece.
Maggie is currently the smallest sheep in the flock, and yet her fleece was the second heaviest of the dairy sheep, weighing in at 2.2 lbs raw skirted. She is one of the new dairy sheep – but she is one of the two that already has some wool breed mixed in (as does her twin, Blue).
Her fleece was slightly sun-bleached, though not as badly as Autumn’s. It had a lot of vegetable matter in it, despite our best efforts to skirt well and the fact that she was jacketed half the year. It will be interesting to see if it lets go of it well or not.
The fleece was surprisingly heavy in the grease, and was dense, with a very organized, wavy crimp.
She had the longest staple length of all the dairy sheep, at 5.25 inches.
Overall, we are very excited about her fleece and are excited to see how it turns out and whether it makes a nice yarn or not.
there is a problem with the fleece. It has a break in it. Which gives me a great chance to share with all of you about what a break in a fleece is, what causes it, how to avoid it, and how to manage it. It is enough information that I would like to do a separate post on it.
Maggie was the most stressed out by the move to our farm. She is bottom of the pecking order, the smallest sheep, and really disliked the LGD at first. So the move was very stressful on her. That is what caused this break. The good news is that it is pretty far to one end, so Mtn Man has decided to try to hand-break the fleece before processing, then process the shorter ends to roving, and the longer ends to yarn. Had it been right down the middle, we would only have been able to process to roving. We will let you know how it goes.