Saturday, May 9, 2009

Shearing...ah yes.

This is the third year I have shorn my sheep. Well, I didn't do it, the sheep shearer did. After having sheared June 9th the 1st year, May 26th the second year and May 8th the third year, I can say that I have learned A LOT this year from shearing.

ONE HUNDRED THANK YOUS to Brian Fitzpatrick for accepting the duties of shearing my sheep. Many shearers are leery of doing wool breed sheep, especially Shetlands and Icelandics. He admitted that these single coated shetlands were much easier to shear than the double coated ones and he said a month ago he had done quite a few shetlands and that they were terribly hard to shear. This gentleman has done literally 30,000 sheep+ and was VERY patient with each animal and carefully set them up and didn't push the blade or ever raise his voice like the last shearer. He took about five hours to do 56 sheep (3 of them were NOT mine) and the BFLs sheared much faster than the Shetlands on average.

I learned that there are some ewes that I have that are tough to shear.....either they have loose skin and that makes it easier to knick them or they have an extremely lanolin heavy fleece and its hard to get the blades through. There was one who was just a nightmare to shear (IMHO) but he took his time and gave her the benefit of the doubt. He told me that these things like loose skin and heavy lanolin are genetic. He also said that my ewes were only mostly 'gummy' on the bellies...he said that is from the lanolin loosening up and moving down to where gravity takes it....the belly. He said that he thought it was a good time NOW to shear them when he was doing the white ewes. The gray katmogets and blacks were most difficult on the bellies. he said partly becuase its harder to see where skin and fleece meet, but mostly because they seemed to have the most lanolin.

He thinks that next year I should shear before lambing so I can see condition better, udders and vulvas, and that the lanolin wouldn't be interferring with the shearing of the belly wool (although it hardly slowed him down any)

Below is Brian hard at work on the ram WhitePine Lyons. Brian was so good with every one of the sheep and was just a joy to watch work.
Below is my dad with the all important part of labeling bags with the proper names and picking up the fleece after Brian was done shearing. My job was to collect the ewes and bring them to Brian. Lambo gave me a huge wallop in the much my ear whistled for awhile :)

My neighbor who is my vet bought two ewes from me last year. One was a bottle lamb I raised (the black one below) and the other was from Mary Ellen's. The ram was also a Mary Ellen lamb. They both lambed this year ...single rams...both ag like their dad....but both spotted! the black ram lamb out of the balck ewe has a krunet and the black HST lamb out of the HST moorit ewe. He will fade however. She already banded them and I couldn't catch them or they would have been in the photo below :) LOOK AT ALL THAT FLEECE! Surely the most fleece that was shorn off of individual sheep! Mary Ellen's two look HUGE with all that fleece but were not so huge once shorn. I asked her what she fed them. She said that they ate a lot of the pig food that the potbelly pigs are supposed to eat (apparently they share a pen). I told her to STOP feeding the sheep pig food and stop housing them together :) We shall see how that happens.

And I forgot to post photos of the lamb that was rejected, but now momma loves him so much! He is out of UndertheSon Arapaho and WhitePine Centennial. So far he is my nicest black ram lamb (in part to his awesome mother) and very consistent fleece. And he calls to me when he sees me...I think I imprinted on him when I was trying to help him nurse...but he always fought me saying he could do it himself and find it himself ;) cute little rascal!

now THIS is uber crimp!! He is already soft, but aren't ALL lambs soft? :) :) >:)


Cynthia said...

Gosh, can we get Brian here? Nice find Garrett!

Dawn said...

That little black guy is beautiful. He looks so shiny and soft.

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

Great to see a pick of the special black ram lamb! I love shearing in March, if it's too far below zero and windy we wait till April but I think it helps to have frozen lanolin (VBG)......

Wrensong Farm said...

How nice to find a patient shearer, they are the best! I'm not sure who stresses out more at or my sheep...!

susan said...

I think the uniform crimpy sheep are the easiest to shear as well. When the fibers are well organised and laying together the blades just slide through. I do my own shearing.

I think the ewes with lots of lanolin are easier to shear, as long as it is warm enough outside. Of course the lanolin does gumm up the blades and you have to clean them between sheep. Maybe I havn't seen a real heavy lanoline one yet. My crimpy uniform sheep all seem to have more lanolin. It seems like I remember that when you have more secondary fiber, you get more lanolin, and when you have more primaries you have more sweat glands. The glands from the primaries were less desirable than the secondaries.

I think that the bellies are hard to shear on shetland, because that is were the most fiber variation is. Often the bellies will have less uniform fibers, and when you have non uniform fibers they tend to felt more, and not line up well.

If you look at the baby lambs coats, the bellies are usually more hairy(longer straighter, courser fibers, even if the body of the lamb is nice and uniform. That and the belly gets the most dirty, wear, friction, hence more felting.

I sheared in mid April. Mid April in California is pretty warm. I think it was 75-80 degrees. They had all gon through their rise by then too.


Available sheep

With my work load continuing to pile up, and less time to spend with the sheep, I am offering the following: My entire flock of BlueFaced ...