Saturday 30 December 2023

Fireworks and animals

Last year, our three sheep were frightened to death by the fireworks on NYE, so much that they ran into their flexible fence. Selma got stuck in it even, so we had to cut her loose.

We thought we moved to a quiet neighborhood where no-one found pleasure in burning money into the air, but we were wrong. The wind blew the sparkling pieces, loudly exploding in even more small twinkle stars towards us, and the final explosions went off right above the poor sheep.

This year, we are prepared. Tonight, there were loud explosions and showers of light already on the 30st, and when we looked outside, the sheep were in the corner of their small winter field, were the fence stopped their flight. It is right outside our kitchen window:

"Is it really safe? I think it is still very scary. Maybe if you let me inside the house..."

We talked to them through the open window to reassure them that it isn't dangerous and that we take care of them. It looked as if they would like to but could not believe us, about the danger. So then we decided it was time to 'lock them up' in their safe place.

Here they stay over night, safe, not able to run away.

It is their shelter area, with a roof above their heads, fenced all around, and access to hay and water. Not so much space to make a walk and find some fresh grass straws, but better than running away, headless into the dark, and getting stuck in the fence, or, when they run out on the road, be hit by a car. Here they may stay the night, maybe released for the morning, but then in the afternoon they have to go in there again before the worst fireworks start.

Our kitten, who stays inside, has also been restless today. She 'hides'  in the workplace. There, so much stuff is standing on the floor that it is easy to hide. Her favorite place is on the lock of a 10 liter paint bucket.

On the news we learned that this year, fireworks for 150 million euros was bought in The Netherlands. So much money! It could be spent so much wiser.


Friday 29 December 2023

Selmas fleece, hind legs

Today, the third and final part of Selmas fleece of 2022 is washed.

More double-cuts, more VM, more matted fleece. Instead of matted tips, I would say that there are matted locks. After all, the sheep ly mostly on their bottoms when they ly down, a little on one side. They don't mind mud or other dirt to ly in, though they prefer a bit softer and a bit dryer places if they find them.

At the cut side, you can find the double-cuts

At the tip side, you will find all VM and other dirt

Result of both sides cleaning

Half of it, ready for its first bath.

After 2 days of picking fleeces on the floor, I must admit that I'm a bit stiff in my legs and bottom. Crawling on the floor, reaching far, sitting still and getting up and sitting down is not something I'm used to, and I will be glad when I can start the next phase in the processing of this fleece.

I am really glad that I found such large stainless steel bowls at second hand stores, for this fleece processing. So much nicer than using plastic containers!

Now, the wool is drying and in the afternoon I baked a nice Dutch specialty, speculaas. A sweet cooky with wintery spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, And the result is crispy and tasty.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Selmas fleece part 'Front legs'

 Today, it's this parts turn. A bit more vegetable matter and double cuts, and a lot more felted tips. However, still not too bad, considering the fields with thistles they have lived in during the fall and spring.

 It is in a bath in one go, and that might have been too much for a single bath. I'll have to divide it in two batches.

In below picture you can see that the tips are more felted, muddier and there are even some thistle-heads in the wool.

More dirt, VM and felted tips.
During the process of soaking, rinsing, washing and more rinsing, I always pick 'stuff' out of the fleeces. The wool gets whiter which makes it easier to spott straws, seeds and even sticks. Double-cuts float to the surface in small balls so they are also easy to spot.
And in the end, after all steps in the process, the wool is white and clean, so much nicer than the raw fleece!

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Washing Selmas first fleece

 Wow, after several years of silence, I suddenly feel the energy to post! This post is about the processing of the wool of Selma, one of our three Flevolander sheep, that came to us in spring 2021.

The fleece is Selmas first fleece, so shorn in 2022. The fleeces of the other two ladies (three sisters) are already processed and almost spun up. But Selmas has been lying there staring at me in a big blue plastic bag. To be honest, I was a little afraid that the moths had lived in the fleece, as the bag was open for a longer period, actually waiting to be processed but that never happened. Until now.

Now is between Christmas and New Years Eve, and I have taken a few days off from work. The Christmas stress is over, so now we have some really quiet days - it is like these days don't really exist, everything has come to a stand-still and there are no obligations at all. Even cooking dinner is easy because there is still so much food left over from Chistmas!

I started with rolling out the fleece on the floor. It actually looked quite good. It was yellowish, supposedly because it had been sitting in the bag, and the lanolin had stained it yellow. The sides were not very dirty, nor was the tail part included, a good job was done after the shearing and before packaging. Did I do that? I don't remember, but had expected a lot more dirt in it. In my memory the sheep were not easy to shear, there was a lot of mud and hay in the fleeces. Maybe I had already picked the fleece and removed those dirty parts. Nevertheless, I took away some of the outer parts of the fleece that I didn't want to process. Too dirty, too matted and I simply have enough wool to process without these difficult parts.

Then, I split it in three parts: (1) the back legs/belly/bottom (the trousers), (2) the front legs and belly and (3) the middle part, from the neck to the tail. Part 3 was further divided into the finest part, over the back and the shoulders (part 3.1), but not the neck. And the rest of that part (3.2).

Part 1 and 2 went back into the bag, for another day. Part 3 I have picked further, for double cuts and vegetable matter. As with the fleeces of her sisters, Selmas fleece had very dark and muddy tips. It was a lambs fleece after all, so the tips had been 'on the sheep'  from before birth, in March 2021, and she was shorn late June 2022.

After that the parts got two cold baths with only water, to wash out the suint (is that sweat and pee?) and mud. Then, a hot bath of 20 minutes with wool wash (Ecover is what I use), and after that 2 somewhat cooler but still hottish/warm baths to wash out the soapy water. I used a spinner (is that the right word, people talk about the spin-cycle of their washing machines but this is a stand-alone machine, and in Dutch it is called a centrifuge). The spinner is of so much help! It spins out all the dirt water, or all the soapy water which would be left in the wool between the baths otherwise. Without the spinner, a double amount of rinse baths would be needed.

This is my woolwash set-up for the day. A smaller table is put in place, with a large stainless steel bowl for the washing. And the spinner to the right.

Finally, when all parts 3 were washed, rinsed and spin-cycled, I put them on a washing rack to dry. Phew! Now, only the leg-parts left to do.