Sunday, April 19, 2015

how to blade shear a sheep

A couple months ago I bought Burgon and Ball sheep shears at the local feed store for a hefty price, and ordered a blade sharpener off of ebay. I had it in my head after reading our sheep book and looking at the drawings of how to hold a sheep for shearing, that my 128 lb. self was actually going to be able to hold a 100 lb. sheep in those positions. HaHa!

Well I got my shears, piece of plywood to shear on, a broom, plastic bags, and a cart to set the wool in. My Mom joined me in this venture to assist me, and we both quickly found out I am NOT strong enough to hold a 100 lb. sheep in any sort of position, but laying it on its side.

My Mom helped hold the sheep down, while I sheared. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get her done, but I didn't cut her once, and I had very little second cuts (undesirable short cuts of fiber from shearing over the same spot twice). Her fleece is beautiful. We had thought that these two ewes we have were some sort of Suffolk cross, but we got to looking through our fleece book and the breed that they resemble the closest is the Dorset Down, both in body and fleece. Which is really funny that they are identical because they came from two separate breeders.

 What happened to you?
We also noticed after shearing these girls, that they were not pregnant. So I guess we won't be getting any lambs from them till next year, but as to why they didn't conceive? I don't know. Maybe they were to young. I didn't ever notice them to come into heat, but I did see the ram breed them. So thought we would be getting lambs. Oh well. There is always next year. 

Isn't that some gorgeous crimp?

I washed some of the fiber, dyed it with food coloring, and set it out to dry on a rack on the lawn.

Then I spun some of it into a thick and thin crazy colored yarn.



Natasha Marie L. said...

How fun!! With practice you'll be able to hold the sheep in the correct positions for shearing. Hank's sister is smaller than I am, and I've seen her shear sheep heavier than she is! =D

LOVING the beautiful, bright colors!! :D

Anonymous said...

Beautiful colors of wool! You did a great job spinning too. I had to laugh at the shearing...I remember our first attempt at shearing our sheep. My husband borrowed a fellow shepherds electric shears. Little did we know until after the fact that they were dull. The poor sheep looked like the ribbing on a sweater when he was finished! Shearing is not an easy job. You did well!
Have a great day! ♥

An At Home Daughter said...

I sure hope I gain some leg strength, so I can handle them better. I think someone needs to create a sheep shear exercise!

An At Home Daughter said...

My Mom had also picked up a pair of rusty shears at a flea market. She had tried them on the Shetland Puddin' when I rooed her. They wouldn't work. That's why I splurged on the new shears. So I would know what I should expect out of them. But boy were they spendy!

Farm Girl Hannah said...

WOW! I'll need this post for when we get our sheep! My Hubby is talking about getting some Shetlands this fall. If we can get the barn ready by then.

You dye it before you spin it! Interesting. I've dyed with food coloring before but after I spun it. Those are beautiful colors. Did you use the neon food coloring?

How do you wash your wool?


An At Home Daughter said...

Yes, I dye the wool before spinning, so I can make the colors mix randomly when I spin it. That way it doesn't create a obvious color pattern when crocheting.

I used regular generic food coloring that comes four colors in a box. I just mixed them till I got the colors I liked. The bright green is just green with some yellow mixed in.

I wash the wool in the kitchen sink. Fill with the hottest water I can get from the tap Pour in some dish soap (we use Palmolive Soft Touch), then add the wool. Let it soak for a while, then move it around a TINY bit to loosen the dirt (not to felt it). Drain, squeeze water out of wool (it would be great if I had a salad spinner). Fill sink with hot water. place wool back in filled sink. I usually have to rinse 2 or 3 times. I like to add a little human hair conditioner to the water before the last rinse.

If I'm dyeing it. It goes straight from the sink to the dye pot, so that it saves me time in having to soak it before dyeing.