Shearing at the Timm Ranch

Yesterday was Shearing Day at the Timm Ranch, in the hills west of my place. We lucked out with weather because it rained last week and it’s raining now, but the rain stopped long enough for the sheep to dry out and to stay dry through shearing.  I have been using this wool for a few years now and I love it. I posted about last year’s yarn in this post and shearing in 2015 and about some of the weaving I did using the wool in 2014.

My goal was to skirt and sort  wool and to finish with 200 pounds because that is the amount that I need to send for processing. After last month’s experience at the Anderson Ranch shearing (which I thought I wrote a blog post about but I guess I missed) I realized that is easier said than done and I was concerned that I wouldn’t get enough sorted before shearing day was over and the crew packed up and left for the next job. An ulterior motive of skirting at the ranch is that: #1 The job is done and I don’t have all that work to do at home another day, and, #2 The crew will bale it for me which will much simplify shipping. Fortunately a few friends came along and helped out.

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We planned to arrive just after the crew had started shearing, but instead we followed their van into the ranch and it took awhile before shearing began. That left some time for photos. I was amused by the adornment to the top of the van. Take another look and you’ll realize that those are two different species represented there. Shearing crew with a sense of humor.

Sheep portraits:

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Tis is Bonnie, the 9-month old Border Collie who found delight in rolling in the piles of wool and draggin away what she could.

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I didn’t get this one’s name. There are three Border Collies, this Dalmatian and a guardian dog on the ranch.

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In previous years there were two shearers but only one this time. That made it easier for us to keep up with evaluating fleeces and skirting.Timm Ranch shearing 4-2017-15

My crew: Vicki, and two Farm Club members, Kathleen and Mary.

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This is some of the lovely wool we saw. Last year’s wool tested at 21.8 microns and I expect about the same of this. We were strict on the criteria for the wool we kept–no vegetable matter, no weak spots or breaks and good length. Every year a ranch’s wool clip can be impacted by weather. After several years of drought I think I saw the effects of a bit too much rain in some fleeces–the wool on the back seemed more fragile and shorter in some fleeces. But timing was right for shearing this year in terms of vegetable matter. We found a small amount of filaree seeds with their corkscrew-like ends but no foxtails or other stickers. Timm Ranch shearing 4-2017-21

Sheep after shearing.

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Lambs were outside the shearing pen waiting for their moms.

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Vicki caught a pair of twins that escaped and were looking for a way back to mom.

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Beautiful rooster that walked by.

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It was late in the day and we had skirted 197 pounds. We had fleeces piled up to look at, but then it was time to shear the rams.

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Those ram fleeces were gorgeous and put me over the top.

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The crew was baling the wool and we kept sorting.

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We stopped at 215 pounds…Timm Ranch shearing 4-2017-39

…and just in time for my wool to be baled. My bale is only 215 pounds instead of 400 which is what they usually bale, but having a bale will make shipping it much easier than if I had to cram all that wool into boxes. Now I just need to finish skirting and sorting all the Jacob wool so I can ship it all at once. What am I doing sitting here on the computer?

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Dryer Ball Experiment

Turn massive amounts of fluffy wool into something smaller. That is my goal as I try to organize the workshop end of my shop so that I can get to my looms. I think there is a principle of physics in here somewhere.

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I have been making dryer balls to sell but it has been hit or miss. Sometimes they turn out great and other times they are not so good. What makes a good dryer ball? Firm instead of squishy. A sphere instead of strips of felted wool connected in random places. The success of a dryer ball has to do with the type of wool (breed of sheep) and the fiber preparation (carded or not). As I use up odds and ends of fiber I’m never sure if the end result will be worth the time and use of fiber so I decided to do some testing.

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This is the “before” showing 17 different wool types and/or preparations from wool that I drum carded wool to commercial top to pre-felted wool and breeds including Merino, Jacob, and Suffolk. I included a different color of yarn with fibers that I might need help to identify after felting.

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This photo shows the “after” in the same order as the “before” photo. The least successful here were the “white prefelt”and the Suffolk. You might not be able to tell from the photo, but they did not felt hard at all. The Merino/alpaca felted well, but the alpaca fibers poke out giving a hairy appearance. Some of the other balls have more “hairiness” depending on the amount of coarse fibers in the mix of wool.

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Another view of the same balls.

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This is the latest batch of balls that just need to be matched up and labeled. The white balls are mostly Merino and the gray balls are Jacob wool.

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You can purchase my dryer balls at the Artery, at my shop, or on the website.

The Latest from the Loom

In preparation for Fibershed’s Grow Your Jeans event I wove six shawls using locally grown Timm Ranch wool yarn.  DSC_0099 I showed photos of these before they were washed in this blog post. Quite a dramatic change.DSC_0107 With the exception of the second blanket the weft is all the same as the warp, but naturally dyed.  From left to right: Osage orange (exhaust), Jacob wool, osage orange, black walnut, pomegranate, not dyed. DSC_0120 One shawl will be worn in the fashion show and they will all be for sale at Grow Your Jeans.  After that they will be for sale  at the Fibershed Marketplace website and at the Artery in Davis.932-3, 932-1, 932-2More locally grown wool. These scarves are woven using Solano County Anderson Ranch wool.DSC_0143 Not locally gown, but one of my best sellers–chenille scarves. 911-1, 911-2You’ve seen this before but I hadn’t taken a photo with the magazine cover.DSC_0167Here’s is one of my photoshoot locations. Hard to find a smooth surface in the shade.