Sunday, December 9, 2007

Shearing and Spinning

Yesterday morning I got a call from a woman in my spinning guild. She had a sheep she needed to shear, but didn't know how to go about it. Could I use a scissors, she asked? Sure, if you wanted to cripple your hands and be there all day. We determined that the most convenient solution for both of us was for her to bring the sheep here, and I would do it.

So she did. Here is the innocent victim. She is a Corriedale/Romney cross.

We did it in the kitchen. That way I could still be in the house with Mom, and we wouldn't freeze our hands off trying to shear outside.
I clipped the first row, and part of the first side, and then she did some. Here she is.

The sheep just stood there, sort of leaning against my (cheap knock off) Hoosier cabinet. (Yes, I washed down the cabinet and mopped the floor when we were done.)

I'm sure this isn't how sheep are normally shorn, but I've only ever done alpacas, so we went with what I know. Basically, one strip is shorn down the back, and then each side is done, row by row. The fleece sort of cascades down the side.

I used to hand shear my animals in a 9' x 9' catch pen. They would walk around, and I would just follow them, shearing as we walked. Eventually, they (and I) would get dizzy, and they would stop. I just continued shearing. This method was perfect for me. I didn't need any help, it was just the animal and me in the pen. However, it is fairly time consuming, and just didn't cut it when Mom came to live with me. Now, with the help of friends, I shear with an electric clipper. I'll go into greater detail when I shear this spring. But I sort of miss hand shearing, so it was nice to get to do this.

My friend brought Mom a gorgeous pair of mittens made from a recycled sweaters, and a very nice Christmas greens arrangement. She says that I'm the only person she knows who would invite her to bring a sheep into the kitchen to shear. I'm not sure what that says about me.

I actually got out the tripod and shot a very amateurish video of me spinning this morning. Blogger wouldn't load it though, so I have a feeling it was too big. Oh well, it wasn't very good anyway.


rilera said...

What a beautiful sheep! You are the only person I know who would not only shear a sheep, but do it in her kitchen! That's a compliment by the way. Did you get to keep the wool? Your life sounds so interesting. I also like the fact that you seem to have escaped the daily 9-5 grind that I deal with daily and I admire you for that.

purple-power said...

I came across a contest (that I can no longer find, but that's another story) that asked us to talk about their favorite blog post. I selected the one about your mother's invented language and said that I find everything about your blog interesting.

I feel much like the previous comment. And for most of us, being caregiver for a mother with AD is an overwhelming thought, as is running a farm. The combination of the two is just overwhelming and you seem to do everything with such charm and grace (and that is a compliment).

I hope you did get to keep at least part of the fleece. She did look like a beauty to my big city eyes.

Annie said...

Thanks Robyn and Purple. Dang, my ears are burning! Pretty soon my head won't fit through a doorway!

I have escaped the 9-5 right now caring for Mom. I still work for the company where I've worked for 17 years now, but only two days a week, and from home. I will write a post eventually describing how I got started on the fiber thing.

We did the shearing so that my friend could have the fleece. I'm excited to see what she will do with it. She is a beginning spinner and new shepherdess, but already does beautiful work. I consider it part of the "spinners' code" to help out beginners.

I know that I am very, very lucky. I have great friends, people pulling for me that I don't even "know", a place to live that I love very much, and Mom is happy. Very lucky.

rilera said...

Too bad the sheep couldn't keep it's wool for this horrible cold weather :( I can't wait for it too warm a little.

Sherri said...

My friends all thought I was nuts for having baby chicks in my basement, now I can tell them that at least I don't shear sheep in the kitchen. Thanks for a laugh this morning! :)

rilera said...

We need an after picture of the sheep so we can see how good a job you did shearing her :)

Annie said...

I didn't take an after photo. I hate to say this, but the reality is she is going to be butchered. The actual owner (not my friend) offered the fleece to my friend before they take her to the processor. The only comfort I have is that use is being made of as much of the sheep as possible. We only sheared the good stuff off of her, and left all the belly,britch and legs.

rilera said...

Now I'm depressed :(