Shearing Day7:48 AM
This past Tuesday Christopher and I headed out to a lovely farm in New Paltz NY. White Barn Sheep and Wool is a beautiful farm and fiber shop run by Paula. It was shearing day and we were invited to jump in and help and learn all we could about the process.
Paula has a herd of about 40 sheep. She has Cormo sheep and a cross of Cormo and California Red. This cross produces a fleece that is slightly coarser then the Cormo but still with loads of crimp. The red faced sheep are the cross's.
After the warmer weather we have been having the sheep seemed happy to be rid of their heavy coats and after shearing they ran out to the pasture to sun themselves.
Just watching the shearing process was amazing. It is quite a skill and the shearer made it look easy. The sheep seem to just relax when they are placed on their backs and there is very little protest from them during the process.
After a sheep was sheared we took the fleece to the other side of the barn where tarps were laid out for skirting. Skirting means taking and removing all the really dirty bits and pieces of the fleece that are not usable. Mostly around the neck and rear area. Then the fleece is rolled up and bagged for sending off to the mill. It will then be made into roving and yarn which Paula sells in her shop.
One benefit of working with the fleeces was the lanolin. I love the feel of the lanolin on my hands and although they were dirty they were super soft and moisturized! I also loved picking the fleeces up off the shearing floor. They still had the amazing warmth of the sheep radiating out of them!
Many people came by to help and young and old alike jumped in and took part in the process. Christopher helped to move sheep......carry fleeces and by the end of the day could skirt a fleece with the best of them.
As we were skirting I came across one of the cormo cross fleeces that just really spoke to me. That sounds silly but in a way it was true. It had beautiful crimp and not a lot of vegetable matter. I scooped up that fleece and put it to the side because of course I was bringing that one home! I love that I met the girl it came off of and was part of the process from the beginning. I now have 6 lbs. of fleece to process!
Paula is so knowledgeable and is more then willing to share what she knows with others. She has created a community of fiber enthusiasts and a place where others can learn and grow in fiber arts. I am planning a trip back very soon.
I will leave you with a little video of the shearing.........