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Hanging with the flock: #1

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I took this one yesterday at the farm. My camera objected. A lovely clear sunny day which usually means cold(!) in the winter. My fingers objected too. This is the "dog flock": sheep that the sheepdogs train with to put the dogs through their paces. Notice the black faced ewe and her hair. She is not a wool breed but a hair breed.

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puzzaddled2

I'm glad that you have learned to enjoy it cooked other ways, canoekaw. While lamburger is very good (I make a wonderful meat loaf with it and love it just cooked on the barbeque), having roast lamb is so wonderful. The smell that some people object to lies in the fat: I trim a lot of the surface fat off so it is not an issue. Sorry to hear that you have a lanolin allergy (I have heard of it before). You may already know that you could probably wear alpaca instead (that is lovely and soft and has no lanolin). ;-D

canoekaw

I have enjoyed eating lamb and mutton all my life. My poor Mom not knowing what to do with it had most of it ground and we ate it as hamburgers. She later learned how to fix lamb chops but her life was cut short. I have learned to roast it mmm good. However I am allergic to lanolin so I don't wear wool very much.

puzzaddled2

Glad that you enjoyed learning, Ardy. Shepherding goes back in our family a bit... By the way, domestic lamb or sheep, if you are a meat eater, is also very sweet (we supplement with grain in North America) and mighty good eating. It is also easier on you to digest...so say the people who've had such issues.

ringleader

I never knew there were so many different breeds or uses of sheep . I never thought of sheep as being any more useful than for the wool. What a wealth of information here especially when I discovered there was information on the back of each picture. Thanks Bexter and Michelle. Wow.

Bexter

better sheep page sheep101.info

It gives a good overview of a lot of the various breeds plus more information on care, history etc

puzzaddled

Thanks, Bexter! We go visit at shearing time and she helps out on the sorting table. Bex has also been doing some spinning (she's a knitter too) so I thought that she could answer with more detail. We do know some farmers (friends of my aunt) that raise sheep for dairy (Outaouais being one breed), specifically for the artisan cheese producers. mmmmmm!

My aunt's sheep are mainly Dorset or Dorset crosses (not in this photo) so are mainly for meat production with some wool/fleece uses. Here's an interesting link to some breed types (although the Katahdin (which is what is the main cross with these girls) isn't shown:

http://www.ontariosheep.org/kids%20corner/breeds/

Bexter

Sheep originally were all hair based with a soft undercoat (aka wool). People started breeding for more of the downy undercoat as they found uses for the fibre, plus keeping the sheep warm in colder climates.

Some hair sheep have coats similar to a goat while other hair sheep shed their coat, which can be handy for various reasons: save money, climate where they are being raised. Hair sheep skin makes for better leather as the skin is tighter/firmer. A lot of warm climates raise hair sheep, which probably is a good thing so they're not losing them to heat related illnesses. For hair sheep, the coat isn't the important part: more of a focus on the meat & dairy aspects.

You can't spin hair, it doesn't come together. On my aunt's sheep, when you remove the fleeces, you can still see the hairs on the leg portions (which are usually skirted along with the sides & belly. Skirted - selectively removed). When people spin things like sheep, rabbit, alpaca or dog, they're spinning the undercoat, not the guard hairs on top (which is why you could spin something from one of our long haired border collies, but not from smooth haired one. The downy undercoat "catches" on itself, while the hair flies apart. Also dog is a really warm fibre, don't make yourself a sweater out of it unless you live someplace where it's freezing but that's another topic of conversation).

I'm half asleep and cold, so hopefully the above made sense.

ringleader

Michelle, why raise hair sheep then? Mainly just curious. I never heard of hair sheep before.

puzzaddled2

Not so far as I know, Ardy. Most hair from these breeds of sheep is not suitable for spinning, weaving or felting. I'm going to field this one over to my daughter, Bexter, to answer...she has more experience with this than I do!

ringleader

This is really interesting reading, Michelle. I didn't know about hair sheep. Is their hair useful in any way? Thanks for sharing. I'm on to the next picture.

puzzaddled2

Got it Kathy...the fingers often do their own thing! I'm a master of the highlight, copy, new comment, fix error, re-post and delete old comment. I'd love to see your photos, when you can find them. I have never been to Idaho so will look forward to sharing it with you!

I remember thinking when we went to the Vegas area years ago and we were flying over Utah that I understood why the people thought that survival on the moon was possible! While I logically knew that a very big part of the US is desert, it was a totally different feeling to actually see and experience it first-hand. We did make a point to drive out to Death Valley (in June!!) just because we had heard so much about it (and perhaps subliminal curiosity from an old television series - do you remember "Death Valley Days"? lol) I did a quick Wiki search on Craters of the Moon and it is a fascinating area with such great geological importance, isn't it? Another place to go visit on the bucket list...

We have a very few small desert-type areas in Canada, and they are out west. My province of Ontario is rather the reverse...we have more fresh water lakes here than virtually anywhere else so it was almost a shock to be in a desert. The air quality is so different too. We have such a rich variety of scenery in North America, don't we? We are fortunate to be able to share and experience it! ;-D

pilley

that should be Craters of the Moon.

pilley

Michelle, always enjoy your shareing. We actually have a lot of desert and lava rocks around here. A State Park, Craders of the the Moon, 80 miles from here is where the astranauts would come train for use of the moon rover, because of the lava terrane. I have some great photo's from there, we also camp there, maybe will try and find them, they are interesting.

puzzaddled

(and if you both knew this, apologies, but I thought that I'd share for others too!)

puzzaddled

Oh, you really meant "clean" as in the sheep aren't very dirty, fodus! You would get a kick out of seeing the ones who wore coats then. When my aunt has had some sheep over the years with a really lovely fleece (and when she did more spinning herself), she would keep the fleece from damage by making coats for the ewe to wear. These were made from converted grain sacks (the lightweight kind with a breathable weave). What fun to see these gals sporting their coats! (btw, you can't really do much with a ram's fleece...his particular smell gets right into it and just doesn't come out!) The hair sheep, like the black face here, don't require shearing. They actually shed their hair and can look quite bedraggled when it's coming out. Glad you enjoyed these photos!

puzzaddled

And here I just think potatoes, when I think about your state Kathy! (Really good baked potatoes...mmmmm.) Interesting that you had some in the family so you know that they are smarter than most people think. My aunt names all of hers and they do come when called. Every so often over the years, a special one was raised in the kitchen. (She now has someone who wants the triplet to hand raise. She never leaves a ewe with three on her.) As she gets older, she has been reducing her flock size so that it is manageable for her (especially during lambing). My daughter and I have gone down for shearing the last couple of years and have some cleaned fleece that she can spin and also have quite a bit of wool that has been spun by the mill. (She works on the grading table and gets first choice of fleece, if she wants it.) My aunt's are mainly Dorset (not in this pix...those were out in a farther field at the time) so the wool isn't the softest for wearing but it's still nice (especially with a lining). I do love natural wools. ;-D

fodus

My favorite animal. These are quite clean! Baaaaaaaaaa.

pilley

Great shots today, they use to raise lots of sheep around here but now we do not hardly see any. Years ago my uncle raised a very large herd and would give me fleece.

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