Tag Archives: fleece

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival: First Time Showing!

I promised a friend I’d enter a local fiber festival with her. I entered last minute due to issues with work. I asked her if she was ready a few days before..oops. forgot to enter. So first ever fiber show I’m doing by the seat of my pants last minute. Day before I get my stuff all packed so i can roll out at 5 am. Before work I start backing my trailer up to the barn and gosh its backing up all funny. My neighbor came out and said “looks like your tires flat!” Well sure enough, it is! I have to leave for work in a few minutes. not enough time to fix the flat and get it backed up to the barn! What do I do?

I call my handy man…who was busy all day. so i go to work thinking up ideas involving cattle panel or last minute building rails for my pick up…oh wait, my pick up doesn’t have a way to hold it…humm.hummmm….all day im thinking at work when *ring ring* I pick up my phone and “You owe me. I got your tire fixed, backed it up to the barn and borrowed an air compressor from the neighbor so if its flat in the morning you can fix it. But you owe me.”

“Oh my god! Thank you so much! How can I repay you? How long did it take? I’ll pay your hou–”

“Shut up. Your neighbors wife….was topless when I walked up. I didn’t need to see that! I…I don’t know how you owe me, but you freakin do!”

haha, so I have to figure out how i owe the poor guy. Anyone know where I can get some brain soap?

First time ever loading these sheep into a trailer and–they went in beautifully! Chores were all done and I headed off to my first show. Of course, once i got there leading them to their pens was more of a difficulty. I..maybe didn’t halter train anyone. I tried dragging a few to the pen with the leash i had on hand (rats stole my sheep halter! I had it hanging up in the barn and now its gone! I once found it halfway down a rat hole, now i can only assume that is its present status.) they…did not lead. they kicked. they bucked. the buckeled their knees and I got tired of it. I picked two up and just carried them to their pens while people looked and laughed, Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
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Precious was immensely curious about the whole thing. Sheep everywhere, people everywhere, sexy rams getting their fleeces spruced up next to us (she seemed to take interest in the white Romney boys). Whenever I walked away i could hear her bellowing across the fair grounds. Yes, I recognise the voices of my sheep. Sometimes i could see her craning her neck looking for me. As soon as I’d approach she’d quite down and go back to happily watching all the hubub around.

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My first show ever and I had a lovely yearling ewe in the color competition and two ewe lambs. Last place. All of them. There were some other folks who showed a East Fresian crosses so i could only assume  the judge had something against EFs.  Well, bummer but nowhere i can go but up!

I went back to the pens with my sheep and sat for a while. A lady came by and we talked. In the end she bought two of my ewes! So its not a total loss, right?

Then I got to talking with other farmers, got ideas on improving my cross. They were very kind and supportive. Next day I went and got Precious sheared.
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This is the girl who walks through fences because her lovely fleece protects her from the charger. Shes been a pian for months, shearer was there and so i took advantage of it. 10 lbs later I had a different sheep. So spotty! People started falling head over heels for her. She had a grand time being the center of everyones attention.
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I showed the fleece to some friends and despite the last place in the show ring they encouraged me to sell it for $80! well….it was totally raw and unskirted so I decided i’d rather see it go so i priced it for $50. Within an hour it was sold and the woman was ecstatic! All the color, so soft! so long!

After shearing Precious I could see a big reason for my low score: my sheep, as most dairy breeds do, have very shallow loins. Her conformation was good for a Jacob and an EF, but paled in comparison next to the meaty Romneys. So breed in bigger loins, breed for lower “britch wool” keep pluggin along.

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So I didn’t take home any prizes, but I sold a few sheep, l met people, got inspired, found out that yes my wool has a market and so i don’t have to be shy about selling it. It was a great experience and I’ll do it again next year.

Getting REady For Lambs

Lambs are due in 4 weeks. This means it really is time to start shearing. I started with Ash because shes looked a bit skinny for a while, though her body condition has improved I wanted to see her shape first. Its pretty hard to tell a sheeps condition in full fleece, so off come her clothes! Both girls thinned out towards the end of lactation in the summer. Not totally sure why as there was lots of pasture and they got limited grain and a pound or two of alfalfa, but they didn’t gain it back as quickly as I expected. (Probably because they need wormed)

I lured her away easily and she hopped right up into the milk stanchion. I’ve been using the stanchion for the ewes since i can feed them and keep them mildly entertained while getting the hang of shearing with GIANT pointy hand shears.This is what I started with.

 

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I went a bit faster this time taking off the main portion of fleece, but i left on the britches and neck to do last. That stuff was hard to do while she was standing. Especially when she started dancing out of boredom and want for more grain.

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Dispite the photographic evidence to the contrary my cuts were much more consistant and I hardly got any second cuts. yay!

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I decided this year to leave on the tail wool to make her look like a llama. Last year they got to be lions.

I left a ridge of hair on her spine so she looks more spinal than she really is. I would score her as a “2” or a bit thin. This means I need to up her calories and worm. You can see she is starting to bag up a little, more on her heavy milking side.

I finally got tired of trying to snip off the bits on her legs while she was standing so I got her out of the stanchion and flipped her over finishing her up with some New Zealand style cuts. So. Much. Easier. Ash has a nice fleece so I didn’t want to mangle it, but i think im proficient enough with the hand shears to start shearing NZ style be sitting the sheep on their butts and rolling them around. It keeps the skin tight so you are less likely to nick them and makes for easier cuts. Plus the fleece comes off in one piece. I’ll be trying this on Polly since her fleece is not worth much. I was going to use it for batting anyway.

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I left her collar on again, but I’ll be taking that off this weekend. One down, 5 more to go.