Thursday, 18 July 2013

Fleece!

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go and see some friends sheep have their haircut! And to be given EIGHT fleeces...! 

Me with April - a rather LARGE lamb...!
Ian and Neroli have ten sheep - a mixture of coloured Ryelands (the brown ones – with black tongues!) and Lleyn / texel cross (the white ones). I've never seen this being done up close before so was really interested in the process and how long it takes. 

The shearing process. Richard, who has been shearing sheep for the past eight years, wears special moccasins during shearing as they are softer and offer a better grip. This means he actually has a better sense of the ground and where the sheep is that he's shearing. He and his partner, Lisa, have around 90 customers.
It was pretty quick!

They seemed much happier afterwards - the sheep that is - as it's been VERY hot the past few weeks, so I'm sure they must be pleased! I also took a short film - 

video

Here’s what I found on wiki about Ryelands: 

The Ryeland breed is over 800 years old and the wool from the breed is known as ‘Leominister Ore.’ 

The Ryeland is one of the oldest of British sheep breeds going back seven centuries when the monks of Leominster in Herefordshire bred sheep and grazed them on the rye pastures, giving them their name. It was introduced into Australia in 1919 and classified as an endangered breed by the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia and also are one of the nine heritage breeds[1] that were the foundation of the sheep and wool industry in Australia. 

They were considered to have the finest wool of all British breeds of the time. Queen Elizabeth I was given 'Lemster' wool stockings and liked them so much that from then on she insisted only on 'Lemster' Ryeland wool. 

An Elizabethan observer wrote that 'among short-wools, Ryeland has pre-eminence with Leominster as the centre of its trade'.

And a bit about the Lleyn Sheep (from the Lleyn sheep society) 

Lleyn sheep originate from the Lleyn peninsula in Wales and until recently were a relatively unfamiliar breed of sheep in the UK. Over the past 10 years the Lleyn breed has caught the eye of many farmers, and now Lleyn sheep can be found almost all over Britain & Ireland.

Farmers soon find that the Lleyn is an ideal ewe, quiet in nature, prolific, has great maternal instincts, milky and will not eat you out of house and home. The Lleyn fits in to many situations and its versatility suits both lowland and upland grazing.  (Makes you want to rush out and buy one!!)


Since getting the fleeces, which wouldn't actually fit in my car!! (I had underestimated how big they were). I have so far washed five of the eight. I won't lie - it's hard work. I’ll do another post on that as I think it warrants one.

So what exactly am I going to DO with these fleeces?? 

Well I’d like to convert some to wool and then make a jumper, use some to weave with to create some cloth and finally make a rug for my home! (that’s the plan anyway!!) 

some interesting facts about wool..Thanks to Twitter and Campaign for Real Wool!

  • The Country that producers the most wool is China, with Australia close second. 
  • According to IWTO Statistics the UK exports 13 million kg and imports 16 million kg annually
  • Fleece weights are normally between 2.2 –2.5 kg each, 2.2 kg being a good average but the weight can vary from 1 kg to 6 kg 


Oh yes - I also milked a cow!! ;-0

And finally - in this clip. Boy are they noisy! Listen out for 'Korma's' baaa. Sounds like he's a smoker...!

video


It was a brilliant afternoon and I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to see it happening!

2 comments:

  1. Looks like shearing is quite a skill. Funny that we export so much wool but import even more. Go figure! Good luck making the rug. x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Richard! Yes I had gone along hoping I might be able to have a go myself - but quickly changed my mind about asking.

      And exactly what I was thinking. I was really surprised that China produces the most wool? I'd like to find out more about the whys and where fores with our own import/export business.

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