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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Shearing Day Revisited

Shearing Day here was way back in early February. I wrote a post about shearing the rams, but never got to the rest of it.

As I went through my photos I realized that a lot of them are of people, not sheep. But that is what makes Shearing Day here so fun–my fabulous Farm Club. The Fiber members chose their fleeces this day, but other members were here too. Everyone has a job and it makes the day go so smoothly.

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The star of the show is our shearer, John.

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John’s shearing shoes.

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Stephany and Gynna…

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…and Brenda were sheep wranglers, never letting John run out of sheep.

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Deborah and Lorrian  pushed sheep to the shearing pen.

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Kathleen weighed fleeces.

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Amy worked the gate in where the sheep left after being shorn.

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Mike swept.

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…I could just lounge.

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Here is Hallie after shearing…

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…and this is the beautiful result.

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Trista: “Does this shearing job make my head look big?”

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Speaking of heads several of us wore our Baa-ble hats.

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Some people left before we took these last photos, but there was still quite a crew for this photo.

 

 

Shearing the Rams

Shearing was a few days ago and it’s an event worthy of a few posts. I started talking about it in here but have been distracted by a major project which will take over my brain for a couple of weeks. I need a break from that so here are photos of shearing the rams. Thanks to Dona and Carole for contributing some of these photos.

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This isn’t a ram but while I was catching them John started with  Mary’s  seven sheep.

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Then it was Faulkner’s turn. Faulkner is a Bluefaced Leicester (BFL).

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Catalyst is a lilac colored Jacob ram. Lilac refers to the gray-brown color of his wool and the facial markings.

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What a gorgeous fleece!

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Bide a wee Buster is almost a year old.

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It’s been on my list to trim Buster’s horn, but John did it before shearing.

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That’s another beautiful fleece coming off.

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A shearer has to be careful in maneuvering those big horns.

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Here is a close-up of Buster’s fleece. Notice the difference in color of the outside of the fleece and the inside in the photo before this.

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Joker was the last ram to be shorn.

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This photo clearly shows the difference in the black & white and lilac color pattern in the Jacob sheep.

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Next up–shearing the ewes.

 

The Morning After

We sheared yesterday (more about that in future blog posts). Here are some photos from this morning and some before-and-after shots.

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You can fit more sheep at the feeder after shearing and it’s sure easier to keep an eye on udder development and predict lambing.

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The aftermath where the skirting table was yesterday. We were so lucky with the weather yesterday–no rain after continual storms. This water is from last night’s rain (almost an inch).

Meridian Zoey. Zoey has freckled skin but not freckled fleece–that’s two different things.

Meridian Fandongo. Notice how the sheep look like they have brown spots in most of the “before” photos. The wool has sunbleached tips. Underneath it is black, or gray if the sheep are fading, or gray-brown if they are “lilac”.

Puddleduck Petra. A good example of a black fleece that looks brown when on the sheep.

Meridian Alice, a two year old ewe.

Meridian Bertha, another two year old. It will be only another day before the sheep look dirty again and you don’t see that bright white against the black.

Shadow Mountain Shelby. Shelby is lilac. Her facial markings are gray, not black. Her spots are a light gray. I used my iPhone for this morning’s photos so some of the sheep look like they have abnormally big heads. Maybe that’s only partly camera perspective but partly that they no longer have huge fleeces around those heads.

Bide a wee Hallie.

Meridian Cindy, one of last year’s lambs. Oops! It turns out that she is freckled. Those smaller spots are in the wool. You can’t tell about freckling when the lambs are born. After a couple of months it will appear. I think it shows up in the secondary follicles instead of the primary ones and that’s why you don’t see it at birth. (I’d like to hear someone who knows explain if that theory is correct.) I also noticed it in her twin brother, although you can’t really see it in the photo below.

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Meridian Joker, Meridian Catalyst, and bide a wee Buster.

And here is what I saw when I first checked on the rams this morning:

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That wall behind Joker is supposed to be attached to the 2 x 4. I found the drill and some screws and put it all back up and it was only then that I looked at the other corner:

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Oh, that’s a bigger problem.  This wasn’t originally a ram barn. It started out two calf hutches that I made. Eventually they were put on this slab facing each other with a space in between and another roof overhead and the kids show pigs lived there for a few months a year. Then it was Faulkner’s pen and he was pretty easy on it. Now that the Jacob rams live there it needs reinforcement. Dan got the jack out to jack it up back on the cement and then reinforced everything inside with heavier 2 x 10’s at about head-bashing level. It could still use interior solid plywood walls but hopefully this will get us by for a few more months.

Stupid rams. You should be grateful that you have a shelter to get into after shearing and you’re not expected to stay out in the wind and rain.

 

 

Shearing at Other Farms

A few weeks ago two of my friends did their fall shearing. Since I didn’t have to do any work I just visited and took photos.

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I don’t know which is which but this is one of Jackie’s Herdwick sheep, either Heddy or Hazel.

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I do know this ewe because she lived here for many years. This is Diamond who is now almost 17 years old.

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Lucy is Diamond’s granddaughter. She is almost 10. dsc_4102

Camelids are not my favorite animals but they can be photogenic. Jackie’s llama is named Peridot…

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…and her alpaca is Evangeline.

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Jackie’s flock after shearing. Jackie shears twice a year because many of her sheep are long-wools and benefit from twice/year shearing. The Jacob sheep will be shorn in the spring.

The next shearing location was Colleen’s place. dsc_4130

This is Colleen’s older ram, Razor,…

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…and her younger ram, Thor.

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When doing anything with the rams at Colleen’s farm you have to deal with the Goose. (Thanks, Dona for this photo.) The Goose is bonded with and protective of Razor (as if he needs protecting) but has a sincere dislike of Thor. Thor usually has to live separately to keep the goose from continually harassing him.

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Razor is about as big as John, the shearer, and probably weighs more.

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Velvet, the cat, enjoying the sun and the smell of lanolin.

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Colleen raises Romeldale and CVM sheep that have very fine wool…

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…and the unique “badger” face pattern.

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After shearing we enjoyed surprise birthday cupcakes (mine–yes, I chose to spend my birthday watching sheep shearing) at Colleen’s outdoor table. Velvet joined us.