As the weather turns colder the sheep are getting bigger and bigger as their fleeces fill out. They nearly have their full fleeces in by now; wool production slows down during the winter as there is less nutritious forage on the ground and as more energy has to go to keeping warm. During the later half of the winter the girls will also have to devote energy to growing lambs (breeding will be in December), so there won’t be much left over for growing wool.
Francine has the thickest coat with a rich deep brown at the roots fading out to a warm chestnut at the tips. Being the darkest of our sheep she also has the most noticeable sun bleaching. It will be interesting to see how the colors blend once the wool is spun.
Elizabeth has the finest fleece with a micron count of 27, and so of course she also has the shortest fleece– darn! But she is also a larger sheep so hopefully she is carrying more wool than it looks like. It’ll be interesting to weigh the fleeces next spring and compare.In the picture you can see the yellow band of lanolin– that will wash out when the fleece is cleaned. Hopefully the rest of the dirt on the tips will also wash out– she is supposed to be a white sheep not dingy gray!
Etta has the poorest quality fleece of the three based the diameter of the fibers but I think she has the prettiest color. I hope that once its spun up its not too rough, the color is so pretty that I’d like to be able to use it for something other than felting or rug making (the fate of the wool too rough to be worn against the skin). By the time I tried to photograph her the feed bucket was empty and she wasn’t very interested in standing still, so the photo isn’t great.
Even Ivy has gotten her winter coat in. Since Ivy isn’t a wool producing breed she doesn’t develop a thick fleece but her winter coat is significantly shaggier than the fine coat of baby hair she had in the summer. Hopefully it’ll be enough to keep her warm, otherwise maybe the sheep will let her cuddle up next to them!
See a few more pictures from today here.