Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday is Wash Day

You can just tell how much happier and more comfortable all the animals are now that it is cooler. (Actually, I am too!) On Saturday we wormed the adult ewes and selected the ones we wanted to breed. We put the marking harness on the only male still here and put him in with them. I kept one ram lamb because he was bottle raised, very sweet, easily handled and his fleece was gorgeous. (That's it in the above picture. I can't wait to spin some of it, but shearing won't happen until early March.) My original intention was to wether him, but we managed to not get that done in a timely fashion. You know how it is with the shoemaker's children? Well, that sometimes works for the veterinarian's animals, too. (Wethering is the same as neutering in a male cat or dog.) Just lately I decided to try breeding him to some of the older Romney ewes to get a few replacement ewes with finer, softer fleeces. The marking harness is a contraption that straps onto the ram so there is a wax crayon positioned on his chest. Whenever he mounts a ewe to breed her, it makes a mark on her rump. I check the ewes every morning and if one has been marked, I write it down on the calendar and the estimated due date. We change the crayon color every two weeks (this time of year, the ewes cycle about every 17 days until they become pregnant) and that tells me if a ewe is getting re-bred. It is a pretty efficient way to keep track of times to be especially alert for a ewe to give birth. It's not foolproof, but usually works. The ram's name is Whitey, though he''ll probably end up being called "Buddy" because that is the name most of our rams end up being called. (All I can say is that my husband named him. My mother-in-law tells me that when he was a child, he and his brother had pets named Whitey and Blackie, so he is staying true to form.)

This is what my living room and front hall look like right now. I've turned them into drying rooms for wool! Thank goodness I have a husband who tolerates this kind of foolishness.

I'm in the midst of washing fleeces right now and that's the only reason I forced myself back inside for a while today. I'm getting ready to take some fleeces to the mill to be carded into roving and I like to wash them myself, rather than have the mill do it. Ohio Valley Natural Fibers is about 2 hours from me and I like to make an appointment and take my fleeces for processing and bring them home the same day. I usually take my spinning wheel or some knitting and just hang out while the fleeces are being done, although sometimes I drop the wool off and drive on in to Cincinnati and make a Trader Joe's run! (Sadly, we have no Trader Joe's in Lexington.)

So, I've spilled out onto the screened porch and guess I'll have to quit for today. I don't think I can get away with spreading wet fleece on the kitchen floor!

Hope you are having great fall weather wherever you are and can get outside and enjoy it.


  1. That's a beautiful fleece for sure! I just love to wash wool. Anything I need to watch for in washing the Cormo fleece? It's my first fine wool to wash...

  2. I happened onto your blog and love it. Raising sheep is a pipe for me and a lot fiber lovers, I bet. Have a beautiful day.

  3. Oops, I meant to type "pipe dream." I hate it when I make a typo : )

  4. Thanks for reading, Amy. I didn't even know I wanted to raise sheep until someone gave me an orphaned lamb many years ago. That started the whole spinning, weaving, dyeing, knitting thing. Now I can't imagine my life without sheep being a part of it (though I sometimes complain about the never-ending work part of it!)

  5. That is so funny, I have crazy stuff going on in my house like that but really, that may take the cake. I think you have won, my dear.

    I love that fleece spread out all over, it keeps making me laugh to think of it.

    Thanks for sharing.