Thursday, 15 June 2017

Wool Week & the Rehab Hutch

Our sheep shearer Matt and his family have come and sheared most of my flock.

The set up team!

Wet weather and dull blades stopped progress, six sheep short. The rams, Pumpkin and 3 ewes due to lamb in September will have to wait til next week to have their fleeces off. The rest of the sheep are feeling relieved to be rid of their heavy sweaters.

I'm relieved because the ewes are looking in great condition this year, even so soon after lambing.

I took this picture of Grumpy being shorn - it's probably the only time you will ever see her deign to be handled by a human.

Even then Matt still has to sit on her.

I had my own shearing job to do -

Podge needed her summer haircut, as she will start working while the weather is warm and I don't want her to overheat. I use the horse clippers and she stands on the tailgate of the truck very patiently. Thankfully, she's not fussy about her haircut.

Yeah, I know. My shearing skills are nil. Mike won't let me trim the poof of hair on top of her head because he thinks it gives Podge character. I hope it draws the eye away from the terrible haircut.

When the sheep are all shorn, I will have two wool sacks, each the size of a double mattress, to take to the wool sellers. I hope I'm not too late to sell to the Irish buyers this year. Their prices are better than the British Wool Board. Wool payments are very small and all my wool will only earn me about £50 annually.

Shearing is most importantly a welfare issue: to keep the sheep cool in summer and prevent fly-strike (maggots burrowing into the flesh of a sheep). My ewes graze better when sheared. In full fleece, the ewes spend their days laying the the shade instead of eating.

I sent a few hoggets to ice camp this week. One ram for Ian, his payment for helping me with sheep jobs throughout the year, one ewe for us, and the best ewe sold to a local gastropub. The one sold cascase covers all the butchery costs and my shearer's fee. A couple culls went to market, in time for Ramadan, and made good prices too.

The rain last week meant I was able to finish my own wool project -

My annual shoot season jumper. Of course, this was supposed to be finished for last season. It's only 9 months late - or is it 3 months early for this season? It fits great and it's super warm, but it has one flaw on the back of the right sleeve -

Either I was distracted by something on TV or I had an extra glass of wine, I'm not sure, but the result is a couple inches of purl stitch when it should have been knit stitch. It's like a small scar but I don't mind imperfections.

Alongside my wool week, I've been doing my daily squirrel trap checking round. On one of my checks I found a tawny owl caught in some plastic deer netting. It was hanging upside down, wings outspread, and looking poorly -

It must have flapped to try and free itself, but only managed to wind the plastic net tighter around its leg. I cut it down, keeping an eye on the trapped leg. I should have been watching its good leg. The owl sank one of its curled talons into my middle finger, so far that it went in one spot and came out another, like it was sewing a running stitch with a needle. I had to free my finger before I could resume freeing the owl's leg.

I brought the owl home and gave it an injection of pain killer ( a stab for a stab!) and put some antibiotic spray on the leg wound. I put in my Rehab Hutch, a guinea pig hutch I use for any hurt or abandoned young that the boys find.

The owl survived the stress overnight, so I was at the vets when they opened, to get it checked out and sent to a special owl rescue centre. The owl got the care it needed, and I got a week long course of antibiotics for my infected finger.

The Hutch is already re-occupied - this time it's a Greater-spotted Woodpecker fledgling-

Normally we leave fledglings for their parents to find, as long as they're safe from immediate danger. Ian found this one in the road. The fledgling is feisty and is almost big enough to go it alone. A few days of hand feeding, water and protection and I can let it go, I hope. And its talons aren't nearly as dangerous as the last occupant's, which is a bonus.


Gardener Fisher said...

Great to see you back. You have been busy, down in somerset it is a bit quieter!

jeanfromcornwall said...

Poof of hair on her head - it is her crest. She is a crested spaniel, and it matters to her. If removed, she would be truly crestfallen. I always toyed with th idea of putting sparkly gel on ours, for Christmas, but I never had the nerve.
As for the knittng "flaw" - apply the Horseman Test - would a man on a galloping horse spot it as he went past -if no, there is nothing wrong.

Seester said...

I love Podge's little tuft of hair! Mike is right – never cut it off!
I also kinda like the purl stitch scar in your sweater. It's more reflective of what went into making it.
Hope you're getting lots of sunshine and warm days this summer!

Forest Poodles said...

I groom my poodles and they sometimes get better cuts than others! Well done on the cardigan! A fine example of knitting!

Anonymous said...

There are times where I wish I could just pop over and leave a loaf of fresh baked bread and a pie on your kitchen counter for you to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee


Janice Bendixen said...

Jen, if you think your shearing skills are lacking, you should see my "purebred" dog after Daddy takes the clippers to her for HER summer 'do -- esp. after he's had several beers. :0 She looks very forelorn indeed, but she's happy! And my only question is, does Podge really need more character?

Kristin White said...

I love the jumper! What pattern did you use? I always think that mistakes in my knitting are like the Persian rugs-the makers always put a mistake in the rugs on purpose. That's all you did. It looks fabulous!

Colette Mowatt said...

I could have traded a nights B & B for a dog hair cut session!!!!

Paula said...

I have a knitting mistake for you; I followed a 'magic raglan' pattern that bases the sweater on measurements of your neck, wrist, sleeve length, body length, and collar bone to middle of your underarm, only they didn't say add an inch or two to the collar-bone-to-middle-of-your-underarm measurement for ease, so when I got the whole thing knitted up, it was a little tight in the armpits! Fortunately, I have a niece who is smaller than I am so I sent it to her- looks like I knit it for her! So now I know. Your sweater/jumper looks good, and you should stick to the three-months-early story.

Do you ever think about hanging on to some of your wool to spin up yourself?

Jennifer Montero said...

Paula - I keep meaning to try the magic raglan pattern, particularly top-down knitting as I can make the sweater extra long. I will remember to add the inches! At least your niece has a nice, handmade sweater now.

I do spin my own wool, and had some fleeces processed a few years ago by a woollen mill in Northern England. I'm still spinning it now, as and when the mood and free time allows. It's medium soft, very springy, and would make a nice outer garment but I like to use it to knit hot water bottle covers and little sheep toys, which I inflict, I mean GIVE, to family and friends.