Tuesday, March 04, 2008

RenCon Ranch Shearing Day

Saturday March 1st, I had the pleasure of going to RenCon Ranch to see my first shearing. RenCon has a small Shetland herd, two llamas, two Great Pyrenees dogs and one sheep dog, Merk.

The shearer was a little late, due to illness. So we all waited around, including these guys! The Shetland sheep are a small breed with lots of personality. They are the size and personality of a medium large dog.

These pictures will probably end up looking like sheep mug shots, but I was trying to get pictures of all the different colors. I know they all have Celtic names for the coloring, but I never remember them.

Look at the beautiful color in this guys fleece! They trimmed his horns because they were growing into his neck. After they did this, he rammed against a tree and broke one off. He has kind of a "Go ahead and make my day" look, so he probably wasn't bothered much! lol

This guy looked a little non-plussed as well.

However, the ladies were quite curious. "What's happening guys?"

This little gal was LOADED with wool!

And she was just a dear. I would of loved to have had her wool which was gray and white, but it was spoken for.

She kept coming to the fence. "Surely with all you people standing around, someone could pay me a little attention!" :o) It might surprise some of you who haven't been around Shetland sheep to know that many of them love affection and attention like domestic animals. It is probably how they are raised, that brings this quality out.

I didn't offer my hand out to pet this one though! Llamas spit and I didn't wnat to experience that! This guy came galloping from the other end of the field to see what we were all doing with cameras pointed at him.

His friend watched from a safe distance though. The llamas, besides providing fiber, guard the sheep, along with the Pyrenees. The ranch is located in "Gold Country", in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains and there are cougars and coyotes who would love to have sheep snacks.

Here is Merk. He seemed bored to wait for the shearer too, but waited faithfully at his master Conrad's feet.

Another shot of Merk, waiting patiently.

"Hello Again! Did you come to pet me?"

Look at her wool, like an Elizabethan collar around her neck!

This is Patrick, showing a few teeth. He's the head honcho and a lovely fellow. Conrad takes him on school visits as he is very gentle. He was the most impressive with his ram's horns, but those teeth really won't impress the ladies!

Well, something is finally happening and Merk is happy about that!

This is Conrad. He used the red shepherd's crook to guide single sheep out of the flock. They then were placed on leads like one would use for a dog.

Patrick waits and watches. He's not sure about all this.

Patrick poses for the sheeparazzi! Isn't he an impressive ram?

The shearing finally begins. I must say that NO sheep were harmed or abused in the process of shearing or photographing. In fact, most ladies were quite calm and didn't seem to be bothered at all. A couple nervous ewes struggled, but no different than when I used to groom our old dog.

Here is the fleece on the skirting table where all the yucky and poopy bits were taken out as well as some of the twigs etc that were obvious on the surface.

And for your viewing pleasure... Look at the gorgeous color. That brown will wash out. Underneath was lovely gray and white. I want one!

Another view of the fleece on the skirting table.

And this is the part of the fleece that was on the back of the ewe.

It was interesting to watch the shearer. He looked no older than 30, but said he has been doing this 17 years. While he is right handed and uses the shears in his right hand, he said the left hand does most of the work. Besides holding the sheep, he also pushes the wool forward so the shears can proceed, enabling the fleece to come off in one large piece.

Look at that lovely wool! The shearer had a difficult time. He was sick and also the sheep had begun to roo. That means their new hair had already begun to grow in due to the week of near 80* temps we had had previously.

Voila! Naked sheep! :o) Isn't she cute. That's one way to lose a few pounds. Before the sheep leaves the shearer, it is given worming medicine and tetanus shots.

And here is "my" little girl Dolly. She was a little bashful because the shearer's little boy was waving a stick around. I was interested in a black fleece. She has black with little bits of white hair sporadically throughout, producing a lovely deep charcoal wool.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting. I want to know what this type of fleece is like to spin and whether or not it is like regular wool or more like hair.

Another black sheep was light gray underneath with some speckles. It is interesting to see all the different colors and also how the inside is often different from the outside.

At last it was Dolly's turn to be shorn. I was so excited to see what her fleece would be like!

She was a very good girl for her "hair cut."

Here she is half shorn and you can see the charcoal coloring underneath.

Here's Dolly on the skirting table.

Here is Dolly's back. Much of this brownish coloring washed out and is dirt! Some of it is sunbleached, just as human hair does.

A close up of the wool, where you can see the rich, lovely color.

And here is another picture of Dolly being "skirted". Currently I have several ounces of her drying on a towel on the living room floor after washing yesterday. Boy was she dirty. After the first few minutes in a very hot water bath, the water turned the color of hot chocolate! I still have most of her left to do and I can't wait to get spinning on her!


Joanne said...

Great photo's! I feel like I was there with you. Dolly's fleece looks wonderful too. Have fun with it! I really like the photo of the sheep peeking through the fence. :)

Wool Winder said...

Fabulous pictures! I really enjoyed this post. Can't wait to see how Dolly's wool spins up. I think it's going to be lovely.