Thursday

Sharing a few thoughts on my Romney Sheep...

The Romney ewe in the photo below (facing the camera, with no 'eyes' in sight) is Blossom. She is a gentle soul, but does not like to be caught. However, once caught, she becomes passive to the handler. She stands still beautifully. She is a favorite of mine to handle.

I had noticed for about a week that her 'dread-locks' (the twisted ringlets of fleece on her head) could hinder her sight. Blossom is not bumping into walls, she is finding her hay just fine, and even in the distance while she is in the lower pasture, she calls out to me as I'm walking to the barn.

I personally like my sheep to see what is around them. I think they are calmer, less likely to spook and run. So on this day, she received a 'quick dread-lock trim'' around her eyes. (sorry no photo afterwards for you to see her sweet face.) I'll try to get one soon.

Blossom, a Romney ewe, in the barn, 2009

Shearing time is definitely here. The sheep are really ready to have the wool removed. Their fleece is at 6.5 to 7 inches long now. Romney sheep produce enough wool, that they could be shorn twice a year. We are waiting for a few good days of dry weather to shear . Forecast is calling for snow again this weekend
.





Romney Ewes in the snow 2009


I can remember after about a month of having the sheep here, and I began to look closer at their wool, and thinking, how was I going to keep the fleece clean? It seemed to collect... well... everything.



Soon I learned a new word that is common in the hand spinning world-- which represents the twigs, hay, burrs... 'Vegetable Matter'. I became very aware at feeding time, careful to not carry the hay over their backs/heads to the feeder, and to also look at their grazing areas for items that could collect into their fleece.


I had also read about people 'coating' their sheep, to protect the sheep from the 'VM'. I wondered, maybe I should do this. Wow, this was turning into something I began to question. Could it possibly be this much requirement to harvest a nice hand spinning fleece?

I soon learned a lot, just in observation. I learned that the vegetable matter was stuck mainly on top of the fleece only (making it easy to pick out.) When I gently opened the wool locks, (brush them back with my hand) to look inside the fleece, it was very clean and beautiful. No 'VM' deep inside the wool. Just 'crimpy', silky, beautifully clean wool. I was amazed!

I decided that I did not need to 'coat them', as their creator had already put 'a coat' on them. I feel strongly, sometimes we as human beings can cause more problems when trying to 'improve' something that already has a beautiful design to it. In this case, I felt it was up to me, the human being, to manage their feeding properly, making sure to not drag hay over their fleece, to keep the pastures where they graze, free of burrs and twiggs. I had also observed that their wool (their coat) is a natural protection for their delicate skin against insects.



So regarding the above photo of the Romney ewes in the snow... it does not concern me as a hand spinner to see hay clinging to the fleece. It comes off with a brush of my hand or a light picking out.


I feel very blessed in what I have been able to learn and observe with my Romney Sheep. I hope to share more with you as time allows. I am however curious, does anyone who stops by here for a visit, keep sheep? If so, what breed?


Have a great day!

Kris

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a flock, 10 ewes, 2 wethers, of Navajo Churro sheep (also a guard llama who is very effective). They have very long thick wool - somewhat coarse although using English combs I am able to separate the guard hair portion from the softer inside. They come in many colors - the ram I used this year was a light cinnamon color - should be interesting to see what colors the lamb crop will be this year. - Marcia in Wyoming

A Farmstead Pilgrimage... said...

Hi Marcia,

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Wow! I bet they are beautiful.

I have heard 'some' llama's are very good at guarding. I have talked with various flock owners and received mixed responses with how effective the llamas are at guarding. How great for you to have found an 'effective one'.

I have never felt or seen the Navajo's fleece in person. I bet the fleece is beautiful.

Best wishes for your lambing season!

Have a blessed day.
Kris

Cary at Serenity Farms said...

Hi Kris, what a delight and a BLESSING to find your blog! Especially since the first post I read was about your sheep ;D I am a fellow Christian shepherd - my husband and I have 34 Corriedale ewes. Now, I DO coat my sheep (grin)...Corriedales do not have open fleeces like Romney and are very much like little magnets to VM. Also, kids often doing the chores and not careful about where the hay flies! My husband has recently become disabled and the income from the sale of wool more important to us, so very clean fleeces at top dollar mean coats for us. I just wrote a long post about it at my blog if you would care to visit, I would be honored.

I am looking forward to learning more about your farm and walk with God when I have some time to read more of your blog ~ God Bless,

Cary at Serenity Farms
http://www.serenity-farms.com

A Farmstead Pilgrimage... said...

Hi Cary,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

I'm sorry to hear of your husband's recent disabilitly, but glad you have been able to find an income from your wool sales.

I do not sell my wool at this time, but have also been told that in our area, it's hard to find buyers.

Thanks for letting me know about your site. I'll stop over for a visit. :o)

Have a great day!
Blessings,
Kris