Since it took me nearly forever to actually bring everyone up to date on Shearing 2014 I thought perhaps I should be a bit more prompt when mentioning shearing lambs. Two year’s experience shearing has taught me I know less than I thought I did – and that I have a lot to learn. This year we are trying something new – shearing the lambs mid-summer. Our Criolla sheep – the cute little brown wooly balls with legs – have a medium to fine fleece with high grease. And despite being less fine the Cormo, Merino, Polwarth, etc., Criolla wool felts if you look at it sideways. It also felts very easily while still on the hoof. Two years’ wool clip has illustrated this fact quite a few times over. The yearling fleeces tend to have more felting problems. After much discussion this year we are shearing the 2014 lambs in mid-summer (i.e. yesterday) to trim off the brief 3-4 months growth of wool, which is mostly lamb tips. Supposedly the fleece grows quite quickly; enough so that the staple length should be full length in time for the full year shearing. Hopefully the staple will be indeed full length, without the brittle lamb tips, and, most importantly, not felted. A secondary issue this year is that we desperately need to do the full-immersion sheep bath to combat the sheep/wool lice. Which is best done with minimal wool.
Regretfully, I failed to take any pictures DURING the shearing. And since we sheared on a drippy, misty day, it would have been a good photo opp. And yes, for all those of you that just cringed or gasped in horror, we sheared wet wool, wet sheep, and on wet ground. The wet ground didn’t prove to be an issue. The wet wool? It means that the lamb fleece are being opened, first evaluation made, general skirting done, and laid out to dry. See:
No harm should come to the wool. And some of the fleece are WONDERFUL. Shorter staple lengths, but oh so soft.
Others? Let’s just say I’ve lined another garden path.
And, as a side note, I had lots of company while processing wool.