Last weekend Amy and I went to see a sheep shearing at a local farm. The farm we visited has been raising Montadale and Montadale/Coopworth cross sheep for meat and useful fleece for 30 years.
I find fuzzy sheep so appealing. Maybe someday I’ll get a few of my own. In the mean time visiting local farms is a lot of fun too.
The shearer was amazing. She worked quickly and efficiently, which was clearly best to keep the animals from getting too stressed. She’d sit them down on their rumps and start the shearing with their bellies. We didn’t see her nick any of the animals – although she did nick herself at one point.
Once separated from their fleeces the sheep would hang out with their friends at the back of the holding pen.
I’ve heard one problem with raising sheep is that the price farmers can get for the fleece doesn’t necessarily cover the cost to have them sheared. This farmer was inviting people in to see the process, and also selling fleeces – Entire Sheep Fleeces – for just $5 each. If no one claimed a fleece, it just went in the bin.
Of course these are dual purpose sheep breeds. Neither is an extremely soft finewool like merino, however both Montadales and Coopworths have fleeces that are known to hand spinners. We’d agreed to go just for the fun of seeing a shearing on the farm. And you know, maybe, just maybe, check out the fleeces. After all, the fleece of a meat sheep could be almost anything. These sheep weren’t coated – meaning the fleeces are exposed to everything the sheep bumps into or lays down in… And just because a breed can have decent fleece fore spinning doesn’t mean the particular sheep in question will have a fleece anyone would want to spin. The diet and living conditions of a sheep can affect an individual fleece almost as much as the breed.
You know where this is going, right? Of course I bought one.
Finally a quick note. I have a guest blog post over at the Knit Purl Gurl talking about the design process for Root Cellar. You can also enter to win a free copy of the pattern, so pop on over and check it out!