Brutus, still wearing his 6 lb fleece. He is too heavy for me to lift, so he got his belly wool sheared while laying on his side.
For most of the sheep, I started by sitting them up on their back ends and shearing off the belly wool, which is not a usable part of the fleece. This is the next step.
This is my favorite shearing position. Comfortable, and the sheep don’t tend to struggle.
After I shear one side and to at least the middle of the back, I roll the sheep over and do the other side. If it turns out right, the fleece is in one piece.
Last, I let the sheep stand up to do the back end and head.
Our daughter tried out the hand shears and did 1.5 sheep.
Dolly, hand shorn.
Flopsy, clipper shorn. I miss a few spots, but I’m getting better.
Fleeces skirted and ready to wash.
I used two clippers. This is an Oster showmaster.
A little pitchfork air guitar during shearing season.
Sheep and Lambs: Pasture Life
Diego, black RR ram, is getting old. 2016 is his last year in the flock. Calloway, mini stallion, kept him company until breeding season. NOTE: Rams are not pets. The children rarely handle them, and only with a halter.
Quarter and her twins
Moving sheep with some good help
Snowball’s twin rams at 3 months
Snowball’s twins on day one
Millie and her twin ewes
Measuring – our ewes have been in the 19-22 inches range.
Ponies at work:
No license needed to drive this rig!
The grandkids like to help train ponies.
We like to start halter training early.
Here are a few pictures of Millie and Tillie’s yearling fleeces start-to-finish. This is a work in progress, and when I get the spinning and knitting phases done, I’ll post more pictures.
Tillie in full fleece, about to be shorn.
At shearing, I’m a novice. It took me about 2 hours per sheep.
Millie, half done.
Tillie, almost done. I kept about half her fleece.
Raw, unwashed fleece.
Millie’s fleece, skirted and ready for washing
Yearling fleece is the finest and softest. White Babydoll wool is said to be in the 18-26 micron range; we’d like to have some of ours tested someday.
After washing, it dries fastest in the sun and wind. A drier would felt it.
Carded batts – we have a motorized carder that makes this part pretty easy.
The magic is in the spinning. It all comes together in the moment when fibers lock together and become a strong thread. Wool is the incredible stuff which has kept people warm and protected throughout the ages, and still makes some of the best clothing and blankets you can get.
Milk and Cheese:
In 2015, Ben and I milked 10 ewes for a month. Close to weaning time, we separated the lambs from their mothers during the night, let the ewes out to graze, and put them all on pasture together after milking in the morning. Babydolls are not a milk breed, and yield was only 1-2 cups per ewe per day, but it gave us insight into which ewes in our flock have the best udders and ability to produce milk. I didn’t take any pictures of the actual milking process, but here are some of the things we made. Yogurt (not pictured) with honey was the kids’ favorite. On its own, the milk itself was sweet and mild.
Cooking the curds – this will be feta.
Feta – it was excellent.
Paneer in spinach curry
Aged manchego. Texture was good, but flavor was affected by an undesirable mold (caused by inadequate airflow), and not the best.
Stirring the curds.
A few pictures from both our farm locations:
We make our own hay from Nebraska prarie grass.
Who’s leading who?
Jasper and Dusty, investigating the chicken scraps.
A 12-mile mother-daughter trail ride; this is the halfway point.
Jack the cat finds a scrap of homespun yarn.
The greener grass
It’s a black lamb named …Lily.
This was a bottle-raised foal. Not as easy as a lamb, but when you lose a mare, it CAN be done.