A couple of Saturdays ago, my husband and I packed up the car for the day and headed off to Delaware for a sheep shearing. I had met the owner several years ago at an event and this was the first time I’d been able to attend the shearing.
We arrived around 9:00 AM and were concerned that we’d missed much of the excitement. The fences were already festooned with shorn fleeces:
This turned out to be a warning for those who don’t patronize their fleece growers: this is all last year’s clip. As there was no market for the fleece, it was simply hung along the fence row to the benefit of the birds and mice.
The real tragedy here is that this is nice wool. The flock is primarily a merino/cheviot cross, with splashes of shetland and border leicester. If you are a handspinner, please buy fleeces from the breeders. Otherwise, this is what happens to the wool.
Other barnyard representatives were more engrossed in each other:
And, of course, there were sheep:
Note the sheep on top of the hay roll. This girl was no dope — she had the best seat in the house!
Shearing was well under way and sheep were everywhere, in the pasture, being led from their field into the shearing pen, tied up along the fence row.
I was encouraged to see so many colored sheep. I love moorit fleeces and the blond outer coats generally mean a brown or moorit undercoat. Yet among the sheared sheep, so many had that lovely gunmetal blue-gray color.
This little guy was unconcerned about the shearing. He was more interested in the milk bar. Once lunch was through, he found himself a nice warm, wooly bed for a chilly spring morning.
Sheep were lined up for shearing. Not only was the farm’s flock being shorn, but 4-H members were trucking in their sheep, as well.
Thick and fast, they came at last, and more and more and more …
Sheared, they all began to look gray, so I started doing some fleece testing. Here is what appears to be a lovely, shaggy, light brown fleece.
However, part those locks and look at what is underneath:
This is Ralph’s lovely silver-gray fleece, one of many I acquired before the end of the day.
Here is another lovely and brown-looking fleece:
Yet under this seemingly-brown exterior:
A very black interior! Another buy by the end of the day.
The shearer was kept busy from 9 until 3, with several well-earned breaks. These were pretty big girls (and guys!) he was throwing around all day.
This is Colorado, another one of the big ram fleeces I bought off the hoof.
You can’t get fresher fleece that this! Still warm, and more of that lovely blue-gray.
By the mid-afternoon, almost 90 sheep had been sheared and returned to their pasture several pounds lighter.
And we returned from Delaware, several pound heavier:
So, now you know. You can put 19 raw fleeces in a Honda Civic. John likened this to a wool clown car.
Laugh if you like, but these are nice fleeces. Here is a sample of Daffodil’s fleece, unwased on the right and washed on the left. I am going to enjoy working with these!