Flaming June doesn't mean hot weather, it refers to the horrible weather we are having at the moment.
This week we have seen so much rain, the sheep have webbed feet!!!!! and the girls with the most fleece are really struggling with the weight of their wet fleece.
Denise has been frantically packing Alpaca fibre most nights, in readiness for Woolfest next weekend, signs have been made and business cards printed. Now the question is, will it all go into the truck!!!
Because of the rain we decided to bring the ewes and lambs into the barn on Thursday night so that they would be dry on Saturday for Andrew to shear them. Because the weather has was so bad once the door was open to the barn, they ran in!!! Warm shelter and fresh hay, what more does a sheep want. By Saturday morning they wanted to be out, the barn and hay had out lived its fascination.
Saturday morning saw is moving the ewes and lambs, into half of the barn so that we could clean the area to be used for dagging and wrapping fleeces. We'd already hurdled off the area Andrew and Denise were to use for shearing the sheep, so that was already clean.
By the time we had finished getting the barn ready, but then there was a down pour of rain and we decide to put the boys in the large trailer, good move as once we started to shear we had 2 thunder and lightening storms. We also decided to remove the lambs from the barn so we could move the ewes into a smaller space to make them easier to catch. Big mistake every one complained!!!!!. But if we had left the lambs in the barn, it would have become a logistic nightmare, do we leave the sheared ewes in the barn with their lambs, or do we put them outside, for not only them to complain, but their lambs as well. Either way we would have sheep bleating VERY LOUDLY, and non of use were wearing ear defenders.
There was not a lot of spare time before Andrew arrived. The idea was, that Denise would start shearing some of the smaller sheep and Chris (a local spinner) would dagg and wrap the fleeces.
Well we got Brazil done, she had already started to "roo" (that means cast her fleece), so the had shears were used. When Denise started to use the shears on the next sheep, she really struggled.
Andrew arrived and got set up, he sheared Berniece first, not problems, then he finished off the lamb Denise had started, and struggled, the fleece was sticky. Strange!!!! Why was her fleece like this. As Andrew sheared more of the girls, they too were very sticky!!!!
The only thing that makes fleeces sticky is molasses, but we don't feed our sheep sugar beat, so we were at a loss as to what it could be. Tim realised that this year we had given the sheep more mineral licks than usual and wondered if that had made their fleeces sticky. Only when we sheared the boys would we know if this theory was correct as they had not been given any mineral licks this winter. Well it proved to be correct. The boy's fleeces were not sticky at all and were a dream to handle. Though they were a challenge for Andrew to shear. Tim has requested that Alex's fleece be spun and knitted into a jumper for him, so that is one fleece that will not be going to Woolfest.
All of the boy's fleeces were damp and so are spread out on the tractor trailer in the barn to ensure that they dry out completely before being packed into paper sacks.
It was a long afternoon doing the shearing. Andrew finally left at 19.00.
Next year, on advice of Andrew, we will be shearing in July as most of the sheep's fleeces have not "risen" this means, that during the winter the sheep's fleece has more lanolin to protect them from the bad weather of winter, during the spring and summer the fleece has less lanolin which makes shearing so much easier, the lanolin doesn't clog the shears. It's easier to see and feel rather than explain.
But the sheep are now done and so the worry of fly strike is not a problem for a month or so at least. Bum watch is on hold for a while!!!!
Next weekend is Woolfest - the biggest fibre festival in this country, a great time to meet up with customer, friends and suppliers. So if you are at Woolfest please say "hello".