Above you see the six bags of fleece I sent off to be processed into rovings, ready for spinning! Yay! They arrived! I sent the fleeces off just before my back surgery last year. And I was delighted to see the return of the fleece in ready-to-spin form not only for me, but for a few people who have been patiently waiting for roving from my flock. Hooray! From top left, going clock-wise, we have: Amanda, Colin, Skittles, Lacey, Ailee and finally, Loretta.
For the past couple of days, I have been rolling the rovings into smaller balls making it easier for me to handle, store and meter out to customers. I was generally pleased with the rovings. Rolling them into the balls also gave me the opportunity to assess each sheep's fleece, making notes on each to enter into my flock records. Three of the fleeces were from lambs: Ailee, Colin and Loretta. Lambs' fleeces are the softest fleece you can get off a sheep. They really aren't great examples of what the sheep's fleece will be like as an adult. You really have to wait until the second shearing to get the true characteristic of each individual fleece. But lamb's fleece is so very soft and rolling the three lamb fleeces felt like rolling soft butter. They were truly delicious!
One of the things I noted was whether or not each fleece had vegetable material in it or if it was fairly clean of bits of hay, seeds, etc. (See the previous post picture for an example of the debris sheep can have in a fleece) Some "vegetable matter, or vm", as it's called, is easily removed and most was picked out by me before I sent the fleeces in for processing. Some is terrible to deal with and it seems no matter how well you pick a fleece over before you send it off, there's always a few bits you miss. One thing I did notice in the fleeces of the adult sheep was that I had very small bits of vegetable matter from plants that are not native to my area. Remember, these were fleeces worn by the sheep since 2005, when I bought them. From Lacey and Amanda, I found some seed matter from the Pacific NW area, where they came from. And from Skittles' fleece, I saw just a few examples of a few seeds from Minnesota. As well as you pick over a fleece and the processing also eliminates most of the vm, there are a few bits that can still cling to the wool fibers. I have always been careful to dispose of any seed matter in the woodburning stove. I don't want to introduce any seeds of plants that might be considered weeds here in Arizona. My Master Gardner friends would drum me out of the group should I let loose some "noxious weed" in my area. LOL!
I had been rolling the rovings while watching a movie on TV. As I was working the phone rang. When I came back to my work, I found one of my "helpers", Pixel, had taken advantage of my absence to avail herself of a nice, soft, warm place to curl up in. I didn't have the heart to move her.
Oh, well...I needed a coffee break anyway, didn't I Pixel?