mudchute-shearing15-3543

With temperatures rising, this Thursday was the day to fire up the clippers and give our flock their annual trim! Derek the shearer had quite a long list of customers, with our flock of sheep as our two alpacas and three lovely llamas. However, everyone is looking neat and tidy following shearing and they will certainly be feeling much cooler. Shearing has also produced lots of lovely wool and fibre. If you might be interested in any of our fleeces or fibre, please get in touch by email to farm_office@mudchute.org, come along to our monthly wool crafting group this Saturday (June 27th) and see our website.

The girls wait their turn.

The girls wait their turn.

Little lambs aren't the best at waiting for mum's turn!

Little lambs aren’t the best at waiting for mum’s turn!

First up were our sheep, like this Whitefaced Woodland ewe.

First up were our sheep, like this Whitefaced Woodland ewe.

Trim all done, it's out to graze!

Trim all done, it’s out to graze!

Our Jacob sheep who have lovely marking even under their fleeces.

Our Jacob sheep who have lovely marking even under their fleeces.

Jacob ewe looking very smart and tidy!

Jacob ewe looking very smart and tidy!

Bertie the Oxford Down ram, one of our largest sheep!

Bertie the Oxford Down ram, one of our largest sheep!

Despite this being his first shear, he was quite relaxed on the shearing boards.

Despite this being his first shear, he was quite relaxed on the shearing boards.

Bertie, half shorn.

Bertie, half shorn.

Our alpacas, Claude and Columbus looking fluffy before shearing.

Our alpacas, Claude and Columbus looking fluffy before shearing.

Shearing alpacas is a bit trickier than sheep, but they didn't phase shearer Derek. Lookin elegant post-trim.

Shearing alpacas is a bit trickier than sheep, but they didn’t phase shearer Derek. Looking elegant post-trim.

The indignity!

The indignity!

We also sheared our three llamas this year.

We also sheared our three llamas this year.

Halfway there.

Halfway there.

Don't forget the tail!

Don’t forget the tail!

Much tidier and ready for the predicted hot weather!

Much tidier and ready for the predicted hot weather!

They must be feeling much cooler!

They must be feeling much cooler!

Llamas heading back out to their field, summer ready.

Llamas heading back out to their field, summer ready.

Happy shorn sheep, definitely feels like summer now!

A field full of happily grazing freshly shorn sheep, definitely feels like summer now!


An array of handspun yarns and fibre.

On Saturday, our monthly wool crafting meetup tried their hand at spinning fibre and fleece into yarn! With the guidance of handspinner Alison, we practised carding fibres until they lay untangled in the same direction (think a good brushing!) into tidy rolls called rolags. We then set to work spinning these into yarns using drop spindles. We worked with some of our lovely Mudchute alpaca fibre as well as wool, drawing out and spinning fibres together to form yarn!

It was great fun and something that you can try yourself using everyday materials. It is even possible to make your own drop spindle from an apple or potato and a pencil and you can purchase fleeces and fibre from our very own flock.

Interested in finding out more? Visit Handspinner.co.uk, join our group on ravelry and come craft with us next month on September 27th. We craft together with wool and fibre (including knitting, crochet, felting, weaving, spinning and more!) on the last Saturday of the month and you can get in touch with us at farm_office@mudchute.org.

Chunky yarn spun from one of our own Jacob sheep fleeces!

Tools of the trade: a drop spindle, hand carders and a lazy kate.


mudchute-shearing-4392

With warm summery weather on the horizon, it was time to get those fleeces off! Derek the shearer was back on the farm last week with clippers ready to shear our flock. It was a busy day and he will be coming back to shear our llamas and one of our alpacas soon. Shearing day was the hottest of the year (though we have since seen warmer temps!) and our flock seem very happy to have those fleeces off their backs.

Bonnie looking quite pleased to be having her fleece trimmed.

Bonnie looking quite pleased to be having her fleece trimmed.

We started with the mothers as their lambs don’t like being separated for too long at this age. First up was our first ewe to lamb, the Oxford Down ewe Bonnie.

Bonnie was an excellent model, sitting quietly throughout the shearing process. Her fleece was incredibly large and she must have been getting rather warm under all that wool. She’s a rather big girl, but much of that bulk was fleece as a slim and healthy ewe was revealed by the shears.

Bonnie after shearing and marked with the number 1, which also appears on her lambs.

Bonnie after shearing and marked with the number 1 to match her lambs.

It was fascinating to see the ewes and lambs reunited after shearing. The lambs know their mother by voice, smell and appearance. However, they seem to rely heavily on sight. There were lots of baas and reassurances required when they first saw their shorn mothers with the little ones looking puzzled. That sounds like my mum, but my mum is woolier than her! The hesitation didn’t last long though.

Bonnie reunited with her twin lambs.

Bonnie reunited with her twin lambs.

The lambs wait for their mothers to be shorn.

The lambs wait for their mothers to be shorn.

mudchute-shearing-4388

You can find more photos of the first part of our shearing below and we hope you’ll agree our sheep are looking lovely with their new trims. They certainly feel better for it in this heat. We sell their rare breed fleeces to handspinners and we do have a number of fleeces and alpaca fibre available. The fleeces are sold “raw”, just as they come off the sheep and full of lanolin. You can find out more about them here and by email to farm_office@mudchute.org.