A fleeceful easy feeling ...... yep - that's what comes over the shepherd once the annual shearing routine is done! I'm sure that's the reason many people are choosing to go with hair sheep. It's one more expense and activity that you can eliminate. But not for those of us who have a fiber interest/addiction. I know of a couple of handspinners with 2 or 3 sheep who shear the sheep with scissors while they're standing up.
Our shearer Don got started at 11am and he had 32 wooly sheep to shear. We have fine wool Rambouillet ewes, medium wool Polled Dorset ewes, and crossbred ewes that are various percentages of both breeds. Red ear tags are Rambouillets, white tags are Dorsets, and the x-breds have yellow tags. There is a noticable difference when shearing the denser fine wool sheep -vs- the coarser wooled ewes. Don switches from a flexible shaft motor driven shearing machine to an electric hand shear from time to time. The hand shear is used to take off the chest & leg wool on some of the dirtier sheep so as not to dull the shearing machine blades. The sheep are controlled in various positions and essentially rolled around so that the fleece comes off in one piece. The shearing area is a 4x8 sheet of plywood covered with a carpet remnant that is constantly swept clean of hay & wool tags. All of our fleeces at Wild Rose Farm are individually bagged and identified with the ewe's ear tag number. We also get a wool sample from each yearling and send it to Yocum-McColl in Denver, CO to be micron tested. We are constantly selecting for finer fleeces and longer staple length on the Rambouillets. We have micron tests on all our sheep and can help spinners select a fleece based on that characteristic. There's quite a bit to learn about wool and fleeces if you're interested! The Rambouillet ewe lamb below was the last one to be sheared. She's standing behind a crossbred ewe lamb. Finally, at 6pm all of the sheep were sheared, the fleeces were bagged, and we said goodbye to Don for another year! Misty - if you're reading this, I think I found a fleece that's yours to try! I'll be sending a sample from #29!And yes, the bags are stored with the tops open so that the fleeces have room to breathe until we process them for sale or yarn or show ........... a couple of the fleeces will make it to the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival in one way or another!