Sunday, March 8, 2009

I'm Rather Sheepish . . .

about telling you where we went yesterday, that is. (You know you can click on the pics to enlarge.)

Some of the PDX Knit Bloggers and Portland Spinnerati went on a little field trip yesterday.

We went to meet Rhonda and Jon at their Greener Pastures Farm in Camas, Washington.

I went to have fun; ToolMan agreed to play "paparazzi" for me, since I would be too busy to deal with the camera.

Did I mention they have sheep there?

Cascade Farmstead sheep to be exact.

And just why did we choose yesterday for our field trip?

Because yesterday was the day Eddie was coming to shear sheep, that's why!

There was a section of fencing put over a couple of sawhorses which we all stood around while Eddie got set up.

We watched while he sheared the first sheep.

It was amazing how the sheep let Eddie move them around, turn them, over, and straddle them while he sheared.

As soon as the fleece was off, somebody grabbed it and flung it up on top of the section of fencing.

Then it was our turn to get to work, skirting the fleece, which is the process of picking off matted sections, pulling off the dung tags, getting out as much vegetable matter as possible, and shaking out the second cuts.

While we were picking, somebody would call out, "This one's mine!" and the fleece would be rolled up, and put into a bag. Ronda (that's her in the red coat) had made a card for each sheep with the ear tag number, name, birth date, fleece color, and any other important information. The name of whoever was buying that fleece was written on the card and put in the bag for later identification.

Then we watched and waited while Eddie finish up the next sheep.

When he was done, we went to work on the next fleece.

Rinse, repeat.

Duffy was just a little too happy with the fleece she picked out. (She has some great pictures of the day over on her blog, by the way.)

Then, it was back to work on the next fleece.

Kathleen told us about watching a sheep shearing and going to the Ashford store during her trip to New Zealand last year.

And pretty soon another fleece was ready to be skirted.

Eddie started on one side of the sheep, working from the neck down, throwing the fleece upside down over the sheep.

Then he flips the sheep over, head down, to release the fleece.

Yes, that pink part of the sheep you see there is just what you're afraid it is . . .

Back to work!

I think Kathleen and Tami were having a minor disagreement over who was getting the next fleece . . .

The last one was the one everybody was waiting for; it was a blue ribbon winner at OFFF last fall.

A fleece so black, you couldn't photograph it.

Even flash didn't help.

I think Tami would have wrestled to the ground anyone who tried to take this out of her hands.

Finally, the last sheep was sheared and the last fleece skirted while Eddie packed up to go to the next farm.

I want to wash and process the fleece myself, so I didn't want a whole one. Thankfully, Pam agreed to split this lovely black and gray one with me.

After the last fleece was bagged, it was time to clean up. Some people took the yucky bits which had been thrown and fallen under the fencing to use for mulch.

Then it was time to hand out the fleeces and pay Rhonda so she could pay Eddie. Microeconomics, live and in person. Or maybe it's "trickle down" economics.

The sheep, though no worse for their experience, were not all that happy to be loosing their

In fact, they looked downright skinny without all that fiber on them.

The spinners, however, were more than happy to be taking those fleeces home.

While we were packing up to leave Greener Pastures, a lady from a neighboring farm, where Eddie had been earlier, came bringing some shetland fleeces and alpaca fleeces from her farm. No pictures of her, but I did buy some of her white alpaca to blend with some brown that I have in my stash.

Needless to say, both bags had to be inspected immediately upon entry into the house.

The alpaca passed inspection pretty quickly.

The sheep fleece apparently needed a more through going over; Andy Rooney tried to take it out of the bag and roll in it, but when I wouldn't let him, he settled for rubbing his head through it and trying to paw it.

Now, I just need to get these washed and processed. Hmmm, I think I'd better Google "washing fleece" for starters . . . .


  1. What a fabulous day!
    My family raised sheep, but we stuffed fleeces into long gunny sacks to ship to market.
    Guess whose job it was to be in the sack, treading down the fleeces?

  2. Man! That looked like a lot of fun. I was with the in-laws all day. I would much rather have hung out at the sheep farm!

  3. Here's a site specifically for icelandic that you're processing -

    Ronda doesn't have a link to any of her icelandic so couldn't find a page to show ours off.

  4. Fast Eddie is a force to be reckoned with. I love the sling he has to save his back. And doesn't he have a lovely southern exposure when he's bending over those sheep?

    Hot water, Dawn dish soap, and small batches would be my suggestions on the fleece. Good luck!

  5. Bobbi,

    Great to get your welcome to Portland message on alittleredhen. We can hardly wait to make the moved, but first...have to sell the place in New York City. We're hoping.

    That black fleece looked pretty dark to me. You're an ambitious group!

    naomi at a little red hen dot com

  6. I'm so glad you had a good time at my farm!

    No, I don't have a link on my website for Icelandic sheep; they are here only to produce my first generation Cascade Farmstead sheep; next spring will be their last year (and last shearing) here at our farm, thank goodness. These Icelandic sheep are just too big to be handled easily, and we are looking forward to having nothing but Cascade Farmestead sheep.

    And a minor correction; those Icelandic girls were ecstatic after being shorn... they were quite literally kicking up their heels with joy the rest of the day! I would be too if I'd lost that many pounds in one day! : )

    One of the photos above says the group to be shorn are Cascade Farmstead sheep; only one in that group was a Cascade (and she didn't get shorn; they "roo" off their fleece in summer). That photo is of the Icelandics to be shorn.

    The black fleece that was in such demand was actually the daughter of an OFFF winner. I don't want credit where it's not due! : D

    Anyway, thanks for visiting our farm. I hope you had a good time. I always learn something new whenever I attend a shearing. I appreciated the income; it didn't cover our costs for shearing, but it helped!!! Tami says some of you want to come back in the summer to pick up some Cascade Farmstead fleeces after they have rooed, and I look forward to meeting you again!

    Greener Pastures Farm


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