Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rooing sheep

Wednesday, Jonathan and I were going to move two rams to a different pasture. When he grabbed one of them, he wound up with a handful of wool. He apologized, and I squealed with happiness, "He's rooing!"

As primitive sheep, some Shetlands still maintain the ability to roo. Long before shepherds began cutting the hair off sheep, they would naturally shed their wool in the spring. I've never heard why modern breeds no longer do this, but rooed wool is heavenly. It's even softer than normal because there is no cut edge.

Jonathan went into the house and retrieved a bag for us to store the wool. He held the sheep while I simply raked my fingers through the little ram's wool. As I pulled the wool off my fingers and dropped it into the bag, I felt my hands getting drenched in lanolin. Within five or ten minutes, the ram was mostly naked, and I had a bag of wool.

The above picture was taken when he was released into the pasture. I didn't bother to pull off the wool underneath his belly or on the back of his legs, since it's usually dirty and winds up being tossed anyway. And apparently I missed a few wispy pieces of wool on his side, but it wasn't enough to notice until I actually downloaded the photos from the camera. There really wasn't much wool left on his body.

Now, what to do with this magnificent wool? I feel like it should be used for something special, but what?

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