Sunday, I spent the day up to my elbows in sheep poo, and I loved it! It was hard work, but VERY interesting, and since my new friend Gregory was giving away (yes, GIVING) fleeces, I was 100% up for the game!
First, I had to drive to her lovely farmhouse in Havre de Grace, MD. No problem – I lucked into the new Jodi Picoult at the library on CD last weekend, and was well into the third CD (and about the 4th bout of tears), so I was all set.
I arrived just before the shearer did, and watched in fascination.
This little lambie was calling for his (her??) mother – couldn’t figure out why all the big ones were in that little fence, sweltering together. It was 90+ that afternoon, so it really must have been terrible in there!
First up was Electra, this beautiful black sheep (the outside is brown because of dust and regular, sheepie wear-and-tear. The underside is definitely:
After everyone was shorn we got down to the business of skirting each fleece. That basically meant picking off the truly gross parts, parts that had been really matted or poo-ed on, or sections that looked like they wouldn’t be worth taking the time to clean and prepare because they wouldn’t be nice to spin anyway. I’m so new to this all, that I just might have let some “bad” bits through, but I think I got better by the end!
In all we skirted about 24 fleeces – about half from those shorn that day, and half from some sheep from Gregory’s farm that now reside on a neighboring farm. She will enter two of hers in the judging at next weekend’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and I can’t wait to see what is said. Electra’s fleece will be judged, as well as the fleece of her Border Leicester Ram. His stuff was awesome!
I came home with a fleece and a half, and now need to figure out how the heck to get this all cleaned! I’m going to take the bigger of the two bags to MDS&W next weekend, in hopes that I can just drop it off with a processing mill there. It seems to be about 4-5 pounds, which is the minimum for some places. I will probably tackle the half-fleece myself. I think it’s only about a pound, so should be a good intro to cleaning, and manageable in my lovely bathtub. I think I’ll make The Boy help me – life experiences, right??
I can’t wait to see what this all becomes, and excited to think that I just may be able to clean, process, dye, spin, and knit my own sweater. At the very least, I’ll understand and appreciate this whole business a little bit more. Here’s hoping!