Sunday, July 31, 2016
I am reborn as a shepherdess
I've been withholding important information from all of you. I have to have some secrets. But I was busting to share and now can, complete with visual documentation.
I awoke an ex-shepherdess pouring my old flock. By afternoon, I was reborn as a shepherdess. I can not explain how important this is to my evolution into the new Apifera here in Maine. I just wasn't ready or willing to be sheepless.
It all happened in a nice organic way. At first I was looking for Katahdins, the breed we had in Oregon. I love that breed. They are a hair sheep and that made more sense for us there. But I began to rethink it all, and I am a lover of felting and so many friends and followers who are avid knitters/spinners, that I realized wool sheep make much more sense for me here. I then started researching fiber, and came upon a breed that is endangered, and is known by fiber enthusiasts for its wonderful wool, and the breed itself are a lot in temperament like my old flock-good mothers, easy keepers, and calm and personable. The more I researched about it, the more I knew these were the ones. And then of course we visited the farm and I loved them, and the couple raising them also have a fiber mill-so that means I have not only a knowledgeable teacher, I have a place to take my fiber for processing.
These are Romeldale/CVM sheep. The Romeldale is is a fine wool breed [created from Romney rams and Rambouillet ewes in the 1900's], and the California Variegated Mutant [CVM] is its multi-colored derivative. The CVM and Romeldale sheep have never been numerous, and today they are quite rare. The CVM's are listed as critical on the endangered list, so I like we are helping them. Fiber enthusiasts are avid lovers of this breed. Commercial breeders tend to breed out any color.
I chose two spring ewe lambs, and one yearling ewe. I also brought home two of their retired girls, and I am thrilled as the fiber on both is awesome. I neglected to bring some of it home with me to photograph! I was so excited, I forgot, but will go back and get some to show you. The elder matriarch gives this incredible silver fiber-just gorgeous. When you look at these photos, it is the color underneath the top coat that will show up in the fiber-I chose many that have silvers and grey. Both the retired ewes have good years left for fiber [they won't be bred] and both have beautiful fleeces.
And then...I had to have her. The battle baby. I might not breed her, but she was such a little sweet lump of wool, and comes right up to you like a pup. We think she might catch up and she is out of the retired white girl so I am hoping she produces a nice white fleece like her mama.
So that is a quick introduction. You will be hearing a lot more about them-and the fiber end of things. I can't wait until spring and sheering! I don't have a ram yet, and I will see if I get one in spring.
This is going to be fun, lots of new things to learn and I already have a shearer lined up who is highly experienced and used by many shepherds around here.
You will be meeting the flock in greater depth as the days and weeks go on.