Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preparing for Lambing

Well this year the first date for lambs is March 1st. That is six weeks earlier than last year. We'll see if any of the ewes cycled that early.

To be on the safe side and prepared, I will trim hooves this coming week (after the puppies leave), check eyelids for anemia, check ewes for condition. Its harder to see their condition under all that wool (and in every do you check them all daily? Its impossible with this number).

I'm happy to say that all ewes and ewe lambs (yearlings now I guess) are in wonderful condition. Probably over condition. I'm actually having to feed them LESS this year, as the food is higher quality. Heck everybody looks fat, and just off of good grass hay! I'm really happy with the girls.

Everyone looks alert, happy, sassy and full of spunk. Today it was -4 for a high (without windchill) and the girls were jumping and popcorning all over the winter paddock. They are in such good spirits for being so cold outside! I know that dense, warm fleece is keeping them warm!

Since I'm lambing March 1st, I have decided to shear that first weekend in March. This will give me a better visual idea of who is close to lambing, if I am not certain by dates ewes were with the rams. My shearer who is amazing, told me I should either wait until June to shear, or before the ewes go through the rise. I had ewes IN the rise while shearing last year, and they had to be hand clipped later. Something I may have to deal with this year, but still worth trying it early, as he IS the one who knows what he is doing, having done tens of thousands (and many many Shetlands btw!)

I am hoping to have a shearing party this year for several of the local spinning guilds. Last year, without advertising my fleeces, I sold over half of my fleeces. Most of my single coated fleeces are sold, leaving me with the longer intermediate fleeces left to make into roving. I'm not sure how to proceed with them. I've washed them, but haven't seperated the wool coats. Should I?

Word of mouth has spread about my fleeces and those that have spun and knit my fleeces, love them. I have some fleeces already reserved for this year. I've gotten helpful hints from these spinners/knitters about where and how to market the fleeces. Now its just a matter of finding the time to get it all together! I'm hoping most of the fleeces sell at shearing day, but time will tell! If they don't I'll be heading out to fiber festivals that are in surrounding states to sell my goods. Maybe I"ll see ya there?


Michelle said...

I don't have any truly double-coated fleeces, just long intermediates, which I never try to separate, and single coats.

Kara said...

My shearer likes to try to get them either before or after the rise as well. I think if you run right in to it is is a hassle to not get second cuts. I have never separated any but I only have a few that are that distinct that I could. Mine on are more on a Cotton Candy has a longer undercoat and only small wisps so would she be more intermediate? Some of the yarn I just got back from Illinois Wool and Fiber came out really wonderful and I think my double coats were mostly in that mix of brown and black. Michelle will have to tell us how she finds Pearl's roving mixed with mohair...maybe I should have separated hers. I think that is the only roving I did with a distinct double coat. Although the black I sent Michelle has some double in it too. She will have to let us know for future reference.

Ginny McMurrough said...

Now I haven't learned enough to know what you folks are talking about with fleeces, but I just wanted to wish you, Garrett(and everyone really) a bountiful and safe lambing this year. So far with goats, this year has been dreadful. I'm hoping you all don't have the same issue. :o)

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

YAY! There should be spinners wanting fleece still in your area at this time of year too!

Cynthia said...

Ah, Garrett, did you intend to say "double-coated?" To my knowledge you don't have ANY double-coated Shetlands.

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