Raising sheep is brand new to us on the homestead. In the past year, we have learned that tending to them is a humbling, but a gratifying task.
Our primary reason for buying the lambs was so that our children would know the value of taking care of something other than themselves. Sure, a dog or cat would have been easier but with a barnyard animal, you must crawl out of your warm bed and leave your cozy home, every, single, day, to water them and make sure they are well. Rain or shine it must be done. Our thinking behind it was that we have become somewhat soft in our automated society. We wanted them to know that there is gratification and honor in work. So we brought in the sheep.
The second reason for having them is to harvest their wool. They both grew nice, thick fleece in their first year and a couple of weeks ago, the sheep shearers traveled down from Raleigh to shear them for us. It’s almost comical to watch the process. The sheep appear to be having a spa day. For the most part, they do not fight it. When you sit them down on their behinds and let them lean their backs up against your legs, they grow even more docile and sweet and don’t seem to mind having their wool cut. While the shearer was shaving off the fleece, I noticed that his hands were incredibly shiny. Thinking he was sweating, I asked him if he was hot and needed some water. It turns out, that wasn’t sweat, glistening on his arm. It was lanolin, a naturally occurring oil found in sheep wool. Working with wool has an added benefit, you have nice soft hands.
We have two very full, fleeces now and soon we will take them to a fiber mill in Weaverville, North Carolina. There they will be processed into quilt batting and wool roving that we can dye and spin into yarn. My daughter and I are currently working on a quilt as I write this. The pattern is called Postcards from Sweden. This fall, she will sleep under a quilt that was pieced with love and will be warmed by the wool from the little sheep she took care of all year.
I wanted to thank all of you who came out and braved the cold last Thursday at the Locust Farmers Market. We had a great variety of farmers, artisans and craftsmen turn out with delicious, locally grown produce, pasture raised meats, fresh strawberries, homemade bread, jars of jam, handcrafted soap, and some very nice wooden birdfeeders.
We will be there again this Thursday from 11-4. Come out and see us.
That’s the news from the homestead, see you next week.