Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Year's Worth

The calendar never really starts or ends for a shepherd.  One aspect of husbandry overlaps another and seasons go by but there's never a time when nothing is happening.  The closest we get is mid winter when everyone is hunkered in and eats their way through the cold, dark months.  But then....


A year's worth of nutrition, proper housing and care is harvested in the form of beautiful wool.  Taking the coats off the sheep is like opening Christmas presents.  We shear in batches of ten to fifteen sheep and can get through about 45 a day without turning it into an unpleasant marathon.

 "Is it any safer on that side of the pen?"

"I don't think so.  We can't really run OR hide."

We postponed the starting date twice due to weather and circumstances.  It was a very un-springlike day but the sheep had been penned the night before and so were dry.  Shearing wet sheep is miserable for the shearer and awful for the wool as it will mildew no matter what kind of bag or container you put it in.

It snowed all day.  :-0  

But indoors is was a steady accumulation of pretty fleeces.........

Curly color!

....and in white.

Longwool crossbreds

Glamour shots........

Salsa is a moorit who has faded greatly over the years but apparently this freckle's worth of wool follicles didn't get the genetic message.

And this is why we coat.  This is Peanut with her coat removed.  The grimy wool to the left is on her neck, which wasn't covered by the coat.  It will wash clean for the most part, but it sure looks unappealing now.

And these are her big, shiny, CLEAN curls.  :-D

This is one of the colored Cotswolds - Pixie, maybe? - who has a very high luster fleece in gray shades.

She looks like she's made of tin foil.

Daisy was pretty sure I had alfalfa pellets in my pocket (aka 'snack hole') and kept trying to work her nose into it.


"You aren't getting any ideas about shearing DOGS, are you?"

No need, dear doggie.  We save all your brushed fur for spinning and you make plenty - no need to cut it off!


  1. So pretty! Who is the white smaller crimped fleece in the glamour shots section?

    1. I think it's Macaroon, who was exposed to Brick in the breeding groups. SO hoping she is bred!

  2. Shearing in mid-April... wow, winter has held on *so* long! But pretty end results from eating healthy in the cold and dark.

  3. Those Cotswold fleeces are gorgeous! Still waiting for my shearer but, with only two sheep left, we need to wait until we are on the "path".

  4. All those fleeces are gorgeous. You tease! Can't wait to see the fleece for sale listing. Take care, it's still cold out there (until tomorrow, I guess).


  5. Absolutely beautiful fleeces! I am finishing knitting a project with your fiber and it is so lovely to work with - spinning and knitting. Are any of these beauties coming to the Shepard's Wool Market in May?

    1. We'll see what's available at that time...and if I have time to skirt them. It would be nice to have fresh fleeces there....

  6. Robin, who's the beautiful fleece in the photo above Salsa?

    1. HI Meg! I'm sorry to say I'm not sure who that is. It might be Taffy - her fleece is bound for the MD sheep and wool festival show/sale in a few weeks - but I'm not positive.

    2. AHA! Good thing I got her fleece last year, then. That's magnificent. I'm not asking this about this fleece,but just for general info: are you allowed to send fleeces for show that aren't for sale? I'm not a shepherd so I've never taken part in a fleece show from your side of it, but I've certainly seen fleeces at the New Hampshire and Massachusetts shows that are entered for prizes but marked NFS by the shepherd. It must vary a lot from place to place. Keep up the good work, Robin, they're all amazing.

    3. Every show varies but most allow some show-only entries. Maryland allows it but you have to have some of your group that you put in be for sale. Sometimes people try to wiggle past the rule by putting stupid high prices on a fleece but then if they really sell at the high price it works out to be 'no harm/no foul'.

  7. You clip your sheep so early! Over here clipping doesn’t begin until late May/early June, but because autumn, winter and now spring are so wet and cold, it might be later. Those are some lovely fleeces! It's always fun to see what spots lie underneath all that wool.