We finished shearing all the sheep that are shorn annually (Freya, the Wensleydale is shorn twice a year). We are happy with the variety and quality we got this year, and looking forward to all the yarn and roving we will get from them.
Our flock is changing and improving and has taken some interesting turns in the last couple of years. We now have a dairy flock, which we are breeding for milk qualities, but also crossing to try to improve the wool. And we still have our wool flock. Our wool flock has become better and better through the years as we have been able, through the fiber mill we own, to really find the best of the best when it comes to fleece quality. A lot of different fleece come through the mill and when we find a breeder that has consistently good fiber that really shows the best of the breed, we have bought sheep from them to add to our flock. So we are getting more and more excited about the fleece we are producing.
Daisy is a 2-year-old dairy sheep – an East Friesian/Lacaune. Her fleece tends to be too rough and scratchy for yarn, but we like to make it into roving to use in our braided rugs. Daisy’s fleece this year weighed in at 4.4 lbs raw skirted. It had a 3.5 inch staple length and was heavy in grease. It is lofty with a squishy handle and crimp. Just like last year, it is very dense.
Blue is also a 2-year-old dairy sheep – East Friesian/Cotswold. Her fleece this year weighed 5.3 lbs raw skirted. Her fleece is drape-y and somewhat soft, reminiscent of a fine Romney wool sheep. It has moderate crimp. It has some sheen and the staple length this year was a nice, long 5.5 inches. We like to make Blue’s fleece into yarn and this year we plan to dye it.
Nora is a wool/dairy mix sheep. Her mother is Daisy (above) and her father was a BFL/CVM wool ram. She is a 1-year-old East Friesian/BFL/CVM ewe. We crossed her mother to our wool ram to see if we could improve the softness on her mother’s fleece, while still keeping dairy qualities. She has yet to lamb, so we don’t know about the dairy qualities yet, but the fleece seems to fall exactly in between her mother’s and father’s fleece for qualities. It is definitely softer and finer than Daisy’s, but just as dense. It has an organized crimp and no sheen, but and is just slightly longer than her mother’s at 4.25-inch staple. Her fleece this year weighed in at 4.1 lbs raw skirted. We plan to try it as yarn and see how much itch-factor it has.
Matilda is new to our flock and we are very excited about her fleece. She is a Bond ewe (wool breed) and is 5 years old. Her fleece is a beautiful example of a Bond with very organized crimp and nice luster. It is very soft and fine. Her staple length this year was about 4.25 inches and her fleece weighed 6.3 lbs raw skirted. We will definitely be making this to yarn.
MacDougal is a yearling Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) wether. He was purchased to be our breeding ram last year, but turned out to be sterile. But his fleece is so great (and he is so friendly) that we decided to wether him and keep him for his fleece. This is our first fleece from him. His fleece this year weighed in at 3.8 lbs raw skirted with a 6.5 inch staple length. It is a beautiful example of BFL, with a very interesting crimp/curl. His locks (which aren’t quite locks, but also not quite NOT locks) are lustrous and soft. We are looking forward to the yarn that this fleece will make.
I forgot to take a photo of Nilsson before shearing this year without his jacket on! Sigh. Next year I will get one.
Nilsson is a 6-year-old Bond ram. He is our new breeding ram and we are very excited about the quality of his fleece. It has won Champion ribbons in fleece shows over the years and his genetics will add a lot to our flock. His fleece weighed in at 8 lbs raw skirted this year and had a 4.5 inch staple length. It has a very organized crimp with great, squishy handle. It is very soft and has nice mild luster. It is a beautiful example of a Bond fleece and we are so excited to make yarn with it.