With lambing around the corner, we had our shearer out last weekend. Spring is the most common time to shear, for several reasons. The sheep are less likely to suffer from overheating in summer, and for pregnant ewes its convenient to shear them before birth to keep the fleece clean.
As a long-wool breed, Navajo-Churro sheep grow their wool about one inch per month. With this rapid rate, we shear twice per year so that the fiber can be commercially processed into roving and yarn. A 6-inch staple length is about the maximum that most carding and spinning machines can handle, and its a length that also works for hand spinners.
Many visitors to the farm ask what we do with the wool. Last year, we took our clip and combined it with wool from a neighbor who also raises Navajo-Churros. We sent off two batches to Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, VT to be processed into beautiful yarns for weaving and knitting. This year we decided to send the fall and spring clips to Boulder Meadow Farm to be processed into roving (washed and carded fiber ready for spinning or felting). We expect to have this fiber available for sale sometime in May. Meanwhile, check out more photos of spring shearing.