Winter Beauties

Shetland Sheep in full winter fleece

I walked the pasture yesterday with the sheep enjoyed seeing them in their full winter fleeces. Browns, goldens (mioget in Shetland terms), blacks and whites – a rainbow of natural colors.As the days start to lengthen I can feel it and the sheep must as well because I can see little tufts of wool pulling away from some of them. This is referred to as “the rise”, an old trait that the primitive breeds maintain that is similar to shedding.  On Shetland the people would “roo” their sheep after gathering them in a contained space. Rooing is hand plucking the wool.  These days most sheep, inlcuding Shetlands, are sheared- but some shepherds will still hand pluck – I did this several years ago with one of my sheep, Dixie.  She stood quietly while I gently pulled the wool from around her neck and shoulders. It was the nicest, softest wool since there were no blunt cut ends and likely the coarser fibers, if there were any, were left behind.  Right now I am spinning it up into very soft yarn. So it’s time to call my shearer, but for now, I think I’ll roo Dixie again. Check back for a photo of Dixie and the yarn I am spinning from her previous fleece.

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