Sunday, April 11, 2010

Babydoll Shearing Day, 2010

Yesterday was the big shearing day for the Babydoll Southdown flock at Sweetwater Farm. Babydolls are still a rare breed, an old world variant of the modern Southdown stock. They are compact, standing only 24 inches at the shoulder, and come in a range of colors from white to black. The fleece is fine and extremely bouncy due to the tight spiralling crimp, lending an unparalleled stretch and memory to the yarns spun from this fiber. As a breed, they're gaining popularity as pets, spinners flock candidates, 4H projects, and weed control minions in places like wineries looking to minimize chemical applications.

The fleeces are always enjoyable, but this year they seemed exceptionally soft and yummy. It will be a delight to spin these up! this year I plan to try blending the Babydoll wool with some of our own Angora.

Above is a 'before picture'. Below are action shots and 'after' pictures.

Our esteemed shearer getting ready to start sheep #6. I think that was Dani, but its hard to tell from this angle. He starts with trimming hooves, then proceeds to shearing starting carefully around the head and neck, then proceeding to belly, sides and back. Sheep are supported against his legs, putting them in a more workable position while keeping them secure and calm. This a very physical technique, but generally yields very good results safely.

As the shearing progresses the ewe is moved around for better access to other parts. After the fleece is off, I take it aside to the skirting table to remove belly wool and tags, leaving only the best stuff.

Three of the ladies having a graze after their eventful day - Libby (black), Molly (silver), and Daisy (white).

One of the lambs re-discovers mom. The lambs kick up quite a fuss during shearing day, almost as if they're not initially sure which ewe is their mother without her fleece.

I will be working on taking photos and listing fleeces over the next few weeks. Right now we have roving listed. If you're looking for a particular shade of fleece or large quantity, feel free to email me or contact me through Etsy.