Friday, May 24, 2013

A Necessary evil

It's that time of year again.......the time of year where I have to decide who goes and who stays.  That time of year when my head does battle with my heart.  Even though I'm careful to place all my lambs in good situations, it's still heart wrenching to stand in the lawn and watch them go up the driveway to their new homes.  The first of my sheep for sale left last night, and they are going to a wonderful home, but I find myself missing them already, and since I know I'm faced with watching 3 more leave on Monday, this holiday weekend is a little bitter sweet for me.  I'm not sad, well,,,,not too sad, but I am a bit "off" when some of my flock is gone.  I know it's silly, but I can't seem to help it.
 *** sigh****

Thank you to Laurie and Brad for giving 4 of my sheep a great home.  You have helped me get my flock moving towards a more manageable number.  (I keep telling myself that is a good thing) 

Let's all try to remember to honor those that gave so much so that we can live and enjoy the freedom that was have today.   

God Bless all of them for their sacrifices. 

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Some sheep are so Rooed

If you follow my blog, you see that I mention the term roo, rooing or rooed quite a bit.  Some of you are probably wondering, "What on earth is she talking about?"  and  "Has she finally lost her last marble?"
The answer to the first question is easy.... 

Rooing is the process of removing the fleece from the sheep by hand plucking the wool.  Many Shetland sheep retain a complete or partial tendency to shed the current year’s fleece growth in late spring or early summer. At the point where the fibre diameter becomes thinner and weaker, the fleece breaks quite easily.  It does not hurt the sheep when the weakened fibres are plucked or rooed by hand.
Breeders of Shetlands will notice that certain sheep and sometimes certain family lines have a greater tendency to shed than others.   At one end of the spectrum there are Shetlands that shed their fleece so readily that it will be lost to the pasture and bird nests unless the shepherd quickly and roos or clips the sheep as soon as signs of shedding  (loose tufts of wool poking out of the fleece) appear. 
Others will partially shed, leaving portions of the fleece that must be removed by clipping.  If you wait, those parts of the fleece may shed over a period of weeks. At the other end of the continuum, some Shetlands show no tendency to shed at all and must be hand clipped or sheared.
An advantage to rooing a fleece is that the previous year’s growth is removed at exactly the right point leaving the next year’s growth rising cleanly on the sheep.  Also there is no loss in staple length or creation of short fibres as can happen when the sheep is sheared above or below the rising new fleece.   (known as "the rise")

Here are some before, during and after photos of Anais that I took a couple weeks ago.  I use a large bag for the main fleece (body, shoulders back, etc. and 2 smaller bags for the neck and britch wool.  The new stand that my hubby and I built is the perfect height for me and my size of sheep, I simply love this stand.  It's got a removable sides, holders on all 4 sides, plus a hoop on a pipe that can be moved anywhere on the stand.  And it's aluminum, so it weights about 15 lbs.  It's been a huge back saver for me this year. 

Anais had already lost a good portion of her neck wool....sigh, so here we are just getting started. 

You can see from this photo that I am just starting to get the wool on her back to peel off nicely.  She is at the perfect point in "the rise" for removal of the fleece.  She has nice new growth coming in and will not be exposed to sun and cold when the old growth is removed.  If I get an area that is hard to pluck, I simply use the hand shears, the same thing I do if I get a sheep that doesn't roo, but I haven't had that much this year. 
All done!!!! And while I've got her up there, I trimmed her hooves and checked her udder, mouth etc.  She's cool, happy and I have VM free fleece in a bag, it's all skirted as I roo and ready for washing and processing.  No additional steps before it's processed.  I throw all the dung tags, yucky belly wool and any matted sections on the floor, so the only fleece that goes in the bags are clean and skirted.  And since there are no cut ends, it's softer than sheared fleece and there are zero, yep, zero 2nd cuts!!!  
Rooing is a lot of work, but I find it is very satisfying to be able to have this intimate and up close contact with my sheep and the wool they provide to me.  I can tell you exactly how nice (or not so nice) the wool is from every part of the sheep I roo, simply because I've handled every piece of it.   I also find that I will imagine in my mind what a certain sheeps' wool will be good for as I'm rooing them.   If nothing else, rooing is a big learning experience for me as I'm able to attach the feel of the fleece with the micron results I review for each of the sheep in my flock.   
There's also a video of our rooing on Youtube from last year's Shepherd's Harvest rooing demo. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

I apologize for this...........

I've had a rash of anonymous comments lately, about 20+ a day, so I'm back to having my settings that won't allow comments unless you are a registered user.  Do spammers really have nothing better to do with their time?  And does their relentless badgering really work on anyone?  (I guess it does, they are still at it) 

Have a fantabulous weekend everyone.  

Sales list started

I have posted my sales list for anyone looking for a few good quality sheep to add to their flock.  A few lambs and a few proven adults.   I sold 9 before my sales list was even posted, so if something appeals to you, let me know right away. 

Happy Shopping!!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Shepherd's Harvest 2013

Another fun-fillled year at Shepherd's Harvest.  Despite the cooler temps and sleeting on Saturday, there was a very nice turnout, and Sunday was just nice enough to bring more people to the festival.
Rooing demos were heavily attended again, and I lost track of how many times I had to give a description of what we were doing to folks that had no idea that all sheep didn't have to be sheared.  I found the biggest misconception about the process was that we were somehow hurting the sheep.  To put this concern to rest, we simply had spectators step forward and give the wool a tug, and then the aha moment hit them.  Most of them exclaimed, "Oh!!! That came right off".  After some soft chuckles and a few more people wanting to give it a go,  everyone could see that we were not hurting the sheep at all.  Some of the victims rooing candidates would even wag their tail through the entire process.  Quite amusing to see them truly enjoy having their fleece removed.

Definition of rooing: Rooing is the process of removing the fleece from the sheep by hand plucking the wool.  Many Shetland sheep retain a complete or partial tendency to shed the current year’s fleece growth in late spring or early summer. At the point where the fibre diameter becomes thinner and weaker, the fleece breaks quite easily.  It does not hurt the sheep when the weakened fibres are plucked or rooed by hand.
Kim, Erica and I rooing Shania

Kim and Erica being observed by a mom and her little boy.

Ladies in waiting.

Display again

We had the Inspection video going all weekend.

Crowd just starting to gather around Kim and I
Garrett on crowd watch

Little kids loved the friendly yearling ewes

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Shepherd's Harvest Festival, Lake Elmo MN

My super, fantastic hubby is staying home this weekend so I can travel to Lake Elmo, MN to participate in rooing demos at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival.   Kim of Kimberwood Farm, Garrett of Ramsay Farms, Erica of Emancipation Acres and I will have a Fine Fleece Shetland Sheep display as well and conducting demos Saturday and Sunday.   Also so much fun, so I can't wait. 

If you are at the festival, please stop in and say hello....we would love to see you. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Fall Trip to Shetland, Scotland the UK

I am over the moon about this much so that I can barely stand NOT talking about it.  We've been planning this trip for almost 2 years now and it will be the trip of a lifetime for us.  If we didn't have so many Shetland sheep lovers from these areas to host us for awhile, there's no way this trip would be within our budget, so it's extra special. 
Shetland Islands

We are flying into Ediburgh, Scotland (Mike and I have some Scottish roots) 


Then grabbing the ferry at Aberdeen to Shetland........

 Arrive at Shetland for Wool Week, Ram inspections and the Ram Sale
Can't wait to see this .........

Shetland Flock Book Fine Fleece Prize Giving with Vi-Spring

See Oliver Henry of Jamieson & Smith judging the wool on the sheep, in the sale ring. Watch Luxury bedmaker, Vi-Spring, present the annual prizes for Fine Fleece on the Hoof in categories: Shetland White Ram Lamb, Shetland Coloured Ram Lamb and Overall Champion Vi-Spring Fine Fleece. Free, drop-in. Minimum experience level required = 1 (1 = Beginner, 5 =Expert).
Type: Drop-in
Location: Shetland Rural Centre (Marts), Staney Hill, Lerwick
Time: 1200

 Back on the ferry......and back to Scotland.  Then hit the road to see Shetland sheep breeders scattered  from Scotland through Northumberland, Cumbria, North West/East, Midlands East West, South then Southwest then over to the Southeast to London,  We are going to try to hit some points of interest (some non-sheepy things) and end up as close to London as possible in order to be close to our airport to fly back home.  


Mike and I

Mike and I
Mike and I at Nick and Emily's wedding

Raised beds & chickens coops

Raised beds & chickens coops
Can't wait for this stuff to actually be food....