Sheep To Be Sheared

Yesterday we sorted through a bunch of our ewes. Now that kidding is winding down, its time to get ready for lambs. We have 22 bred Cormo and Cormo Cross ewes – we think. The Cormo Crosses are our Natural Colored Fine Wool sheep. So, starting next week, we’ll be shearing some sheep as we prepare for lambing. We like to get the fleece sheared before the ewes lamb — for one thing it allows the lambs to find a teat with ease and for another it keeps the fleece from getting contaminated from the birthing process. We also have the remainder of our goats to shear as well – yearling does and bucks, adult does and bucks. So in the next few weeks we need to harvest the fleece off of about 100 animals.
As we shear, we do a “rough skirt”. That means we remove as much of the undesirable parts of the fleece as possible before putting the fleece into a bag. Undesirable parts include; any fleece with manure stuck to it ( these are called “tags” ), any fleece discolored by urine ( called “stain” ) , any parts with a lot of vegetable matter ( VM , the handspinners nightmare in fine wool ). We also separate the wool from the underside of the sheep’s body – the “belly wool” – and bag that separately. This wool can be very different from the rest of the fleece. Sometimes it is shorter in length, sometimes the crimp is different and sometimes it is of a different “fineness”. Most of our sheep are covered which keeps a large percentage of the fleece very clean and free from debris. This fleece is then carefully re-skirted, bagged and offered for sale. Some of our fleeces – the really special ones – are kept and entered into competition at some of the local fairs. There is nothing more beautiful than a pristinely clean, freshly sheared fleece.
This year, the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Growers Association, a local sheep breeder’s association to which we belong, is having a Spring Fleece sale. It will be held on Saturday May 16 at the Elmendorf Inn in Red Hook, NY at 10:00AM. We’ll be participating with some of these beautiful fleeces. See you there?

7 Days ‘Til Spring

49 Days ‘Til Spring

Counting down until spring arrives helps get us through the long dark days of winter. Spring is an exciting time of new beginnings. While most people think of Autumn as harvest season, for fiber animals producers, Spring is our primary harvest time. This year we have 50 beautiful Cormo and Cormo Cross sheep fleeces to harvest ( in addition to 100 goats to shear ) . Generally, we do not like to “toot our own horn” when it comes to our products but……..we think we have some pretty special wool fleeces. For those of you not familiar with cormo sheep, they are a fine wooled sheep originating in Tasmania in the early 1960s. The first Cormo were imported to the US in the 1970s. Cormos were developed by a one-time breeding cross of Corriedale Rams with Saxon Merino Ewes.
The result is a sheep that is particularly hardy and thrifty, producing a beautiful true white fleece, which has a phenomenal staple length ( 3 1/2 – 5 inches ) for it’s fineness ( 17 – 23 microns). For more info about Cormo Sheep you can check out the US Cormo website at:
The fleeces in the picture above were sheared from our flock last year. They are show winners and will soon be made into yarn and roving for sale in 2009. We take exceptional care to make sure our sheep’s fleeces remain clean and free from vegetable matter. In order to accomplish this, our sheep are pasture raised year ’round. In the autumn, just before we need to start feeding hay, we place a lightweight cover or sheep jacket on the sheep to keep the hay debris from getting into the fleece. Usually once and sometimes twice during the period that the fleece is covered, the jacket will need to be changed due to the growth of the fleece. This ensures the animal remains comfortable in the cover and the fleece has room to grow. The result is the beautiful, clean, fleece you see in the picture above.