2 New Ram Fleeces

2 New Ram Fleeces

While I have been working on the Mer-Project, I have been up to other things. To give you a bit of a break from “OH no another fish thing!!” (Sorry there is a bit more fishiness to come), but for now let’s have a peek at one of the other things that happens in the summer.

I spotted two ram fleeces for sale on the guild Facebook page from Shady Creek Lamb Co. I picked them up at the same farmers market Ann sells butter tarts.  They pasture the ewes under solar panels! Great self-mobile lawn mowers!!! Unfortunately, there are many burrs under there too. The Rams were kept elsewhere and claimed not to be as fond of burrs as their girlfriends.

1  1 Barrhaven farmers market at the log farm (they don’t farm logs.  It’s all very confusing)

You may have seen the short needle felting interruption where I picked them up and re-bagged them (they didn’t fit in the new bags well but they will not get wet if it rains! But this is August.  We don’t usually have much if any rain in August.

2 2 Miss Manta is blocking your view of the new fleeces

The one I was most interested in was the large grey fleece.  It may be hard to tell from this picture, but He is a BIG boy!

I need a sorting table!

3  3 the Ram in question (I think he is a Shropshire?)

Yes, I need a Big sorting table!

I don’t have a sorting table but I have a metal frame from my neighbour, Valerie, who moved a few years ago.  She left it for me, she used to grow cucumbers on it!  It has been sitting behind the metal bench in my side yard studio waiting to be useful. It will now have its chance!

44 Wire frame

I pulled out the metal frame and propped it up on the water barrels and a 2×4. I added extra support with a group of S-hooks.  It was a bit rusty and the spacing is a bit large so I used an old sheet that I use in the fall to cover the tomatoes saving them from a September frost.

5-6 the new sorting frame and quite dirty wool

As you can see I have thought ahead and had gloves ready, which you can see I will need. This fleece and his friend, have not been skirted! If you have not bought a raw fleece before they are usually pre-skirted. This means getting rid of the wool that is on the belly, lower legs, and especially the messy bit around the butt. This wool is worn, matted or particularly filthy.  (Sheep are not usually neat bathroom users. It may be due to their lack of toilet paper or just the lack of thumbs to operate toilet paper effectively.)

77 port-a-shade

It was again a lovely hot day so up went the umbrellas, Instant shade!! Oh that’s much better.

8910118 – 11 skirting and sorting into strainer bins

When I skirted the giant Shetland last fall, I sorted for colour. This time it seems mostly the same colour and from what I could feel similar fibre size. So, I divided more by cleanliness.  I kept skirting and sorting until I had mostly even buckets full of similar filthiness.

12-13 sorting done starting soaking

I pulled out the fleece washing buckets and moved the newly sorted wool to the table.  I also pulled out the remaining Shetland still to wash from last year.


Although I was dying of curiosity I started a batch of the Shetland as well as a bucket of the new ram

14-15 wool drained water filthy, on to next rinse

Hanging the strainer buckets up between rinses. The water is still filthy so I change it and soak them again.

I added another one of the giant soaking buckets and got a third strainer bucket going. This is going to take all summer at this rate!!

19-21 first batch out and second batch in

As the first batch was drying, I started the second batch.  Continuing the process of; soap soak, lift buckets gently and then replace a few times, drain and change to fresh water was going along wonderfully, ….. And then it Rained….

2222 UNFAIR!!!

Weather? Is this a snide comment that I am rushing and I should soak it longer? Or are you suggesting It needed another rinse?

and it stopped raining so it may dry, but no the sun didn’t last long and its back to raining, so let’s just consider this as well rinsed.

2323 soak

Showers intermittent continued and I decided it was a sign to work on something else. I am Back to felting inside.

It’s sunny this morning, well at least at the moment. I am getting suspicious the sun knows when I’m out here!  The wool is back out drying and I am working on another project in the outside studio. (I moved the wool buckets over so I could sit on the bench). The lighting was getting a bit darker and I was just about to go check the fleece when the sky opened up yet again! ok  let’s just consider this one more rinse….. positive thinking! positive thinking!

242524-25 Rain Again!!! (Is this some comment on the topic of my summer theme of Mer’s?)

Just to show you how much water we have been getting the farther 2 buckets are under on the umbrellas the nearer one is not and is now a lot deeper than I had filled it.

2626 the amount of rain we got covered the fleece strainer

The sun is just tempting me I know by this time but I will fall for his evil machinations again, by draining and putting out the fleece to dry.

2727 there is sun

Yes it was all a plot and Ann messaged me that we have a tornado warning happening, I took down the umbrellas, put the fleece away , it was getting So Much close to dry!!, back into bins and stuck them in zip lock bags away from  the  incoming storm. We had greenish tinted sky and cloud layers moving in different directions and speeds but luckily no tornado. On the western edge of Ottawa, One of our friends lost a Very big tree who’s aim was luckily poor and just missed their house. We were glad to hear she was safe.

Next morning Glenn picked up a couple knocked over pots and I put the fleece back out to dry… Someday dry fleece will come… maybe tomorrow?

28-29 OK trying again to dry wool

If anyone needs a bit of rain, you are welcome to have some of ours, the rain barrels are full and I don’t have to water the garden (which is actually helpful). That includes Ann who lives south of the city and has not had nearly as much rain as we have gotten!!! Why not rain on her sheep? Hers must be much cleaner sheep than my fleece is. Oh well it looks like it may be worth the work, if I can get it clean and dry. I am looking forward to seeing how it will felt and it should spin up some spectacular sock yarn, now I just need to figure out how to knit socks.


10 thoughts on “2 New Ram Fleeces

  1. That’s a real tale Jan. You have reminded me why I no longer buy raw fleece. Too much like hard work, especially as our (UK) weather is even more unpredictable than yours.
    I hate to ask as you really don’t need to water the garden at this stage, but do you save the rinsing water for the garden? Soapy water, helps get rid of garden pests, while the rest of the dirt in the rinse certainly does no harm. And how about daggings from the sheep’s rear end? They make good compost, and you can also make a liquid fertilizer if you soak them and retain the liquid. Something to sell to get more money for more fleece – if you don’t use it all yourself?

    1. HI Ann, i have not been useing the water on the garden, there are a lot of weed seeds falling out of the drying sections which will lead to more weeding next year! the water flows past a crack in the drive way which has had self seeded portulaca plant itself there. it is doing vary well so i am shure the water would help the garden im just worryed about more weeds.
      i too am noticing its a lot of work but the fleece looks like it will be vary nice if i can ever get it cleen!
      i hope your UK weather improves and you get a bit more sun!!

    1. i was starting to suspect the weather was acturaly trying to thwort me!! but no why would the weather be mad at me particularlly?

      some times you just have to look back and see the hummer in your thworted attemps to do somthing. that and i have to find opertunitys to compliment the weather more! Look at that amazing blue sky this morning!!!

      i am glad you enjoyed the saga! i still have flax to tell you about too (not as frustrating!)

  2. Wow Jan – that’s a lot of (rewarding) work. The baskets you use are perfect for the job and must have made things easier.

    Always enjoy looking at your photos!

    If you don’t like knitting socks, there are plenty of knitters willing to buy sock yarn!

  3. HI Annielynrosie! thanks!!
    the strainer buckets were from dollerama. they have two types one with the hold for the handel on the side and this one with the holes for the handle above. the above keeps your finger out of dirty water better and keeps the fleece in the bucket but both will work. if you had rubber made totes as watter buckets, thay would work with them too. i have picked up second hand Wallmart toy bukets (there now smaller for the same price so try to find the older ones second hand.)

    i got going and forgot to take pictures for the next project Sorry!!! but i am glad your likeing the ones i remember to take!

    somehow the sivear dislexia and knitting have not worked out well, so maybe if i spin extra sock yarn i can perswade someone to knit big comfy socks! i will keep trying! it may be like spelling i almost get it but not quite.

  4. Looks like you are getting it done eventually 😉. I have stopped buying fleeces because of how much work it is. We could use some rain in Montana if you could send it our way.

  5. Jan you have my sympathy….rain & fleeces outdoors are not a good combo, but I like your tale which made me smile.
    Earlier this year I finally managed to get 3 fleeces washed, having developed a system Indoors that works for me – our UK weather can turn on a dime.

    Now all you have to do is spin the wool!!! Have fun.

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