Monday, April 09, 2012

Spring here at Leaping Shepherd Farm

The star of the show today was Yves, the young wether on the right (he's the sheep with horns in the foreground of the picture).

Had I known what the day would bring, I would have taken the camera out with me in the morning before all the excitement, instead of taking pictures at the end!

When I went out to feed the sheep I could see that Yves had begun to drop some of his wool -so, being the curious fibre-loving girl that I am, I had to try giving a little tug...

Twenty five or so minutes later, I'd liberated all of Yves last year's coat. This is his lamb coat, and the final pre-cleaning dry weight was 7oz.  It's lovely and light, fluffy and smells all sweet and lanolin-y.  Max came out part way into the process and helped me with this little fella.

For those who are not familiar with sheep, the trick is to roll them on to their bottoms, belly up, supporting their weight against your legs. If you can keep their little hooves off the ground, they will not struggle.  Sweet Yves relaxed into the process without much struggle at all.  We took little breaks from time to time (for grain), and I was able to roo his whole coat in a surprisingly short period of time.  To roo a coat, you pluck away at it much in the same way as you would pull at a dog's shedding undercoat - it lets go with very little resistance.  Not every breed of sheep can be roo-ed, but Soay can.  In the spring, the previous year's coat gets a weak spot in it and, left to their own devices, the sheep will lose the wool in clumps as it gets caught on sticks and branches. Roo-ing is the process of plucking or pulling the coat.

Our sheep have fast friends within our little flock, and Yadira and Yves are close.  Yadira (the blonde) followed Yves around for most of the rest of the day, sniffing him and keeping an eye on him.

He hadn't minded the whole experience all that much, and had come back to us for more grain after Max and I'd finished with him, so we know that he hasn't become hand-shy.

She sniffed and sniffed at him, almost like she was asking, "Are you okay? - how about now?  Really? Okay?"

 The other sheep stayed nearby during the process, and didn't seem terribly bothered by the whole thing.

Yorick, our Ram, showed that he's not above eating hay out of the other sheep's coats, and spent some time rooting around in Winniandy's ruff, looking for tidbits.

You might be able to see in the background that most of the yard and field is still under a foot of accumulated snow.  The sheep's foot -er, hoofpaths are all cleared down to the ground, but the rest of the field is still blanketed in white.  It was a sunny and glorious day, and little Youella spent a good amount of time sunning her tiny self.

Max and I spent a few hours walking on air after the experience.  It was so much fun, and easier than expected, all 'round (I have a hunch that Winniandy and Yorick will be another story altogether).

Hope you had a lovely Easter Weekend.



swooze said...

Would love to hear the story behind all the names.

Lisa said...

Hi Swooze!
The names are based on the year that they were born in - the Soay are registered sheep, named by that rubric. Winniandy is a year older than all the others, whose names start with Y. No Z lambs so far this year, but we have names picked out and still have our fingers crossed!