I’ve been really focusing on skirting our recently sheared fleeces. With fifty-three fleeces to skirt, there is plenty of work to do, and I really want to reclaim my dining room! On the first day after shearing, we loaded all of the fleece bundles along the four walls of the room: white Romeldale to the east, colored Romeldale to the north along the sliding door, white Romney to the south, and colored Romney along the west wall under the window. Ever since then, I’ve been working to clear the walls, one at a time. As of today, I’m finally on the west and last wall, skirting colored Romney fleeces – and they are beautiful!
One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve skirted is that this year is a greasier one than usual. There is no way to know why this might be, but it is obvious as I handle each fleece – there is a lot more grease in them this year. I have yet to find a disappointing fleece. Some of the older ewes’ fleeces are showing their age with reduced crimp, but I’ve expected that – and honestly, most of them are better than I expected.
So far, I’ve had only one lamb whose fleece impacted by that terrible weekend last summer when I was out of town and our farm sitter “forgot” to feed our sheep for three days. All of the Romeldale lambs came through the experience well enough, producing beautiful, strong fiber in their fleeces. So far, I’ve only skirted one Romney fleece – that of Qianti, the daughter of Kabernet. Qianti’s fleece is a beautiful multi-shade silvery/gray fleece with incredible crimp, but if I look closely, I can see a disruption in the crimp about halfway down the staple. If I pull at the staples to test for strength, I feel a bit of crackling – it doesn’t break, but the crackle tells me that there is weakness within the staple. Every time I pass her fleece (currently sitting on the counter), I feel sadness, both for her in her terrible experience, and for her beautiful fleece that is so stunning-yet-slightly-weak. It is a good example, however, of the fact that no matter how careful we are about the care of our sheep, things can happen. We never know how any one fleece will turn out until after we shear it – things can happen at any time to reduce its quality.
I am off to continue skirting, but I leave you with a few pictures of Romeldale fleeces I’ve finished – just a tease as to what is to come!