Last week was our summer shearing, the age old process of removing the thick coat of wool that grows all over a sheep’s body. Merino sheep’s wool performs best at temperature extremes, this means we shear our sheep every 6 months in summer and winter to maintain and standardise our wool quality and length and produce the finest wool. With fast growing wool and hearty constitutions, a regular ‘harvest’ is good for both our sheep and our fine wool production.
We bought our sheep into the barn to shear, not only does it protect us and the sheep from the heat of the day it allows us to perform routine health checks on our ewes and lambs while the sheep are waiting to be sheared. Notoriously physical and skilled work shearing requires technique and patience. In New Zealand and Australia, the epicenters of shearing culture, professional shearers can shear flocks of more than 400 sheep in a day. With our flock we take great care of our sheep throughout the process, to reduce stress and ultimately harvest a premium fleece.
The sheep are funnelled through a run to the shearers who remove each fleece with well oiled shears and technique. Our fleeces are then hand sorted, weighed and checked before being stored to be sent to the mill. From each shearing we keep samples of the wool to check micron count. The micron is the measure used to describe the diameter of a wool fibre. The larger the micron count the hairier and wirier the wool, Merino wool has the finest gauge with the softest feel. We pay particular attention the the fleeces of our rams in order to inform our breeding programme.
Shearing is a day with all hands on deck, dusty, dirty but very rewarding to see the quality of fleeces going to make our next collection.