Category Archives: Wool

A Second Lamb Guess!

Our purebred Finnsheep, Honeycomb, is due to lamb in about a week or so! We wanted to get some pictures of her, so Evelyn and I headed out to the barn.

Blackberry and Currant were easy to lead out.

Aren’t I cute?

The warm, sunny day made for a frisky lamb!

And of course, the cat had to come inspect.

Timid little Apple didn’t want to leave the barn even to get some corn.

But our subject for today was Honeycomb. With a little coaxing, she followed Evelyn out of the barn and was rewarded with some corn.

After a while, Honeycomb got curious and venture farther.

She certainly looks pregnant! How many lambs do you think she’ll have? And will they be ewe lambs or ram lambs? (Just a hint, Finnsheep normally have more than one lamb at a time, though not always.)

Hey, what about me!?

Lamb Update

Black Currant is growing quickly! Today we had to put in her ear tags (Quebec law for all livestock), but we thought we’d take some pictures of her first. Blackberry and Currant are so friendly they had no hesitation about following us out of the barn.

And of course the cat was around too… Snow is a new taste for Currant and the freezing rain yesterday made the driveway a field of broken ice. How does the cat always manage to get in the picture!

Since Currant is 4 weeks old today, we also wanted to weigh her. So we brought her and Blackberry up to the house.

This is a nice-looking house… Anybody home? And then it was time to return to the barn.

The cat decided to join in the race! And the winner is……but that wasn’t fair – Blackberry slid on the ice.

‘Till next time!

Lamb guess answer!

As it turns out, no one guessed right! Blackberry just lambed this morning with one black ewe lamb. And is she ever cute!

After observing for 1/2 an hour with nothing more progressing than seeing two little hooves, we stepped in to help. But all the help Blackberry needed was having the lamb’s legs straightened out and she managed the rest just fine. Mother and daughter seem to have bonded well.Now what should we call her?

A new barn tenant

A newcomer arrived in the barn yesterday evening…

She is 8 months old and very friendly. She was worried at first about being separated from her original flock, but she’s adapting quickly and already seems to be making friends with Yoghurt in the next stall. Her wool is very dense and such a beautiful colour! We’re thrilled to have found a black sheep at last!

We’ve come up with a couple ideas for what to call her. Anyone else have a suggestion?

Hair Cut Time!

It was hair cutting time in the barn this week! Well, not technically hair actually – wool.

Chipit and Maple had theirs cut a while back, but the three younger sheep still needed to be done. Yoghurt was by far the most agreeable. He loved the back rub! Strawberry and Raspberry were more ticklish and wiggly, but even so it was nice to work with sheep that aren’t afraid of us.

I forgot to photograph Strawberry before and after, but here are Yoghurt and Raspberry.







Quite the change! We measured Yoghurt’s fleece at 9 inches long. It is really beautiful wool. The ewe lambs have a lot of hair in their wool, so the quality is less good.

And of course while I was in the barn… How could I resist photographing those cute little lambs?

And now we are watching Maple and wondering if she’s pregnant…

What do you think?

Lamb guess!

April is on its way and lambing season is just around the corner. Our first ewe due to lamb is Chipit and she looks like it!

Sadly, she also isn’t doing the best. The weight of her lamb(s) is making her tire easily and we were startled to discover yesterday that she sometimes struggles to walk about and lie down. A vet visit relieved us of the possibility of hypocalcemia or pregnancy toxemia. His suggestion was that she has suffered some kind of trauma to her spinal column. Our best option is to keep her quiet, fed, and watered and hope that the arrival of the lambs will relieve her of added pressure.

So, we are doubly eager for the lambs to appear! If anyone wants to take a guess at how many ewe lambs and/or ram lambs she will have, just reply to this post and let us know what you think!

Wool processing

Sheep are rapidly becoming one of my favourite animals.

They are such loveable balls of fluff and have so much to give back: meat (we just butchered our 8 month old ram lamb), milk (not yet, but we’re hoping that someday we’ll get to milk one of the ewes) and wool.

The wool is where we have been putting quite a bit of time lately. Here’s how it goes…

First the sheep need to be shorn.

Not wanting to invest immediately in expensive shearing equipment, we opted for a cheaper method: kitchen scissors!Then the wool needs washing. (Sorry, we don’t have any pictures of this step.) We give the fleeces three washes in hot soapy water to remove the lanolin (sheep grease). It is important to do this without agitation. Agitating wool when it is hot causes it to felt, rendering it useless. And then we rinse it, also in hot water.

After washing it goes on racks to dry, or in our case, on frost fencing elevated off the ground by 2×4’s.

Once dry, the wool is skirted, which simply means that we remove any worthless bits of fiber, i.e. parts that have manure on them or sections that contain too much vegetable matter (hay).

At this point, the wool is ready for combing or carding. We didn’t have any carding equipment, so we did our first fleece with hair combs – a very time-consuming project as it meant combing one end of a lock, flipping it around and combing the other end!

Now we have a drum carder which speeds the process up enormously! The wool is put through the carder a bit a time for the first pass.

To line the fibers up better and to remove more vegetable matter, we send the wool through the carder about three times on average.

When the bat is removed for the final time, it is torn into long strips and moved on to the spinning wheel.

Alternately, it can be removed from the drum in one long strip using a disk with a tiny hole in it. Our sheep’s short staple length makes this impracticable this year, but perhaps it will work with the longer wool we hope to get next year.

At the spinning wheel, the rovings (long strips of wool) are drafted (drawn out into even thinner strands) and twisted before getting wound onto the bobbin.

Once two bobbins are filled, the strands are plied together by being sent through the spinning wheel again, with the wheel spinning backwards this time.

The wool is now ready to be used and turned into warm articles of clothing!