Monday, February 15, 2016

Lamb Watch

Here are a few pictures from this morning. We got a few inches of snow today.  I wanted to take pictures of udders to compare to last week's pictures.

Barley (L), Bean, Dragline (the ram, R)

Selfie with Darla!

Darla's udder

Another selfie with Darla!  Darla always gets lovey-dovey when she's in late gestation.  She loves her ears scratched (inside), and also her chest and her shoulders.

From Hoof to Hank

I finally made yarn from wool from my own sheep, after over 20 years of owning sheep.  Took me long enough, don't you think?  Mostly, I haven't done it because I primarily breed and raise meat breed sheep, and their fleeces aren't ideal for spinning, knitting, and wearing.

I started working on Barley's fleece in August, and I finally finished some yarn recently.  I washed the fleece in the summer, when it could dry outside.  Then I sort of got busy with other projects.

Here's the fleece, right after shearing.

Then it got washed.  My friend Nancy let me use her set up to skirt (remove undesirable and dirty pieces), wash, and dry the fleece.

Here's the fleece on the skirting table.

It took a few washes to get it clean.

When it was dry, I started picking it (opening up the fibers) and carding it.  Nancy showed me how to use her picker.

And then the fiber was carded. Carding it aligns the fibers (mostly) to get a smooth batt of wool.  Then you can spin it.  You can also use something called a diz to take the fiber off the carder as roving (a "rope" of wool) and spin right from the roving.

A pile of batts.

Then I spun and spun and spun.

When I had 2 full bobbins, I plyed the 2 singles together.  One strand (above) is called a single, and when you twist two or more together, that's plying.  I made a 2 ply yarn.  After I plied the yarn, I put it on the niddy-noddy (below) to make the hank of yarn.

The yarn got washed again, to set the twist.

Now that I have yarn, I need to figure out what I'm going to make with it!

I think Barley would approve.  :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Couple More Weeks

Because I haven't been blogging as much lately, I don't have record of when some important things happened.  I usually blog about breeding dates, and then I can always come back to check to keep record of things.

Today I vaccinated and crutched the ewes (sheared around vulvas and udders) because lambing is coming up soon.  Darla was bred October 8th, so she'll be due around March 2nd.  Bean was bred October 10th, so she'll be due around March 4th.  Barley was bred October 13th, so she'll be due around March 7th.  Dixie was bred early, but didn't settle.  I recently preg tested her again, and she is pregnant.  The ram wasn't wearing his harness that late in the season, but by my best guess, she was bred sometime around December 14th.  That means she won't lamb until around May 9th.

Here are the obligatory udder pictures, so I can have something to compare them to later.

Darla (center) and Dixie (right)

Barley (left) and Darla (right)


Murphy's Law struck breeding season this year, in a big way.  My intentions were to have the ewes bred at the beginning of September, so the lambs would arrive in mid January.  Mother Nature (or Murphy) had different plans.  The sheep got bred much later than I wanted, and they're all due right around the time of my weekend away.  I'll be going away March 4-6, and that's exactly when the sheep are due. Now, those dates are based on 147 day gestation, and sheep can vary several days on either side of that.  Experienced ewes lamb earlier, in my experience, so I'm holding out hope they lamb before I leave.  David is going to get a crash course in lambing, if not!

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