Cilantro is a handful. If you're a regular here, I'm not telling you anything you haven't heard before. Although he was wethered at an early age, he is just as combative as any ram. The bad boy of the big boys, we give him plenty of room. One of the things I like about shearing day is working closely with each animal. In the confines of the holding pen, there's no room for a ram to draw a bead on you. I enjoyed wrapping my arms around Cilantro's wooly head to extract him from the pen, and he didn't give me half the fight I'd expected.
His fleece is a crazy patchwork of swirls and spots. We see this pattern on rare occasion in lambs of Cocoa's lineage. I view them as unique and special gifts. Cilantro, Comet, and Helena are the only other patchwork sheep in the flock. It's exciting to watch their fleeces peel off like speckled robes.
Cilantro was well mannered for Andy on the shearing board. In this photo I am holding the neck and head wool away from the rest of the fleece. The neck area is full of chaff, especially right at the line where the elastic from the sheep coat creates a bit of a channel in the wool. If you let that dirty section flop backwards onto the rest of the fleece, it shakes a year's worth of dirt onto the clean blanket of wool that you've worked so hard to maintain all year. I separate the neck and head wool as soon as Andy finishes his last blow (pass of the shears) at the neck. It's a pound or more of fleece. If there's good wool there, we'll make use of it - but not for yarn or handspinning fiber.
Big drama when Andy threw Cilantro's fleece on the skirting table declaring, "Now that's a show fleece." The fleece held together beautifully and was so large it draped over the edge of the table, spilling onto the floor. My skirting pros took extra time arranging the fleece and carefully rolling it in paper for storage. It's a gold medal handspinning fleece, for sure.
For comparison, here's Cocoa's fleece (below) shorn earlier the same day. She's about 100 pounds lighter than Cilantro (her grandson, standing near the fleece in the holding pen in this shot) and her fleece fit neatly on the table. Her staple is not as long as his and her fleece is not nearly as dense.
I've just realized that I haven't said a word about the moorits. That was another exciting moment, watching the velvety brown fleeces come off the merino-cross yearlings I purchased from Alice Field last summer. Delectable. Here's Cognac's fleece. Amazing color and length. Her sister Bailey was the finest. Latte is still waiting for shearing in the group that's yet to be done. I'll post some closeups of the moorit fleeces later this week.
Tomorrow is going to be an exceptionally busy day. We start with shearing round two - the rest of the boys and the bred ewes. Stay tuned. . . .
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