#LAMBMETRICS for the day
Drysdale & English Leicester Flocks
Born today: 2
Total Lambs Born: 113
Drysdale lambs (live total): 52
English Leicester lambs (live total): 38
English Leicester X lambs (live total): 14
Total Sets of Twins born: 36
Total Sets of Triplets born: 1
Total ewe lambs: 59
Total ram lambs: 54
Ewes lambed /77: 76 (98.7 %)
Lamb % : 137 % [live]
Losses: 9 [lamb]; 0 [ewe]
Notable Midwifery tales:
There hasn’t been much action for a few days so it was about time the English Leicesters shook things up a little!
It was a very quiet start to the day with nothing appearing to be happening so I decided to take poor, time-neglected Floss for a good, long walk in the paddock where the yearlings, wethers and “empties” are. It’s been a little while since I’ve had time to do so. They’ve been living the life of Riley with plenty to eat and no humans interfering! It was good to catch up – and nose-bump – with Mr Squishy, NotSquishy and Hippo. 🙂 (Pet lambs from 2016)
I’d been a little hopeful that young Cassie was indeed pregnant (just not due until mid-October, due to THIS rendezvous) so I wanted to check on her as well as a general welfare check on the random sheepy assortment in that paddock.
Good news! I’m pretty sure she’s pregnant….. 😉
So, Cassie needed to come up to the Maternity paddock where I can keep an eye on the minx.
Cassie’s mum (Flopsy) and aunt (Mopsy) had scanned empty back in June which was pretty sad since they are silver English Leicesters and I finally HAVE a ram that would guarantee they have silver lambs.
Turns out Flopsy had one tucked away that the scanner missed….
This little guy is very, very cute.
Now Cassie has a little brother and they arrived up at the sheds and took over immediately. LOL
Mopsy led the troops into the shed and demanded food! The last time she lambed it was a very tough experience with pregnancy toxemia – that was when I delivered Mona and her sister. Mopsy was in the shed for weeks. She figures she owns it. Haha
I left them to all get reacquainted.
Late this afternoon I went back over to get some water pipes re-jigged and discovered that Mona did indeed want her mum – and had just delivered her bub!
Of course, Granny Mopsy came to inspect and photobomb. LOL
A lovely little boy!
And now there is only one left to lamb (not including late-to-the-party Cassie).
Hoping to get back in the workshop in the next few days to crank up the dye pots and sort out more wool ready for a store update and for the Fibre Advent Calendars! Plus, a new processing run of our Duchess wool/silk blend!
Followers of our Facebook page and Instagram will probably be aware that roses are rather popular at Beersheba Farm. (Over 100 bushes and we aren’t counting!) So, a few years ago when a product called “Rose Fiber” came on the market we were very excited. Wool and roses! Our world was complete!
However, initial research yielded very little information on what this glorious fibre was made of and how. Basically all that could be found was marketing sales pitch from one or two large fibre-selling companies that it was “made from rose bushes”.
This didn’t bode well for the marketing pitch to be accurate.
It would be generally thought among the fibrecraft community from the marketing that “rose fiber” is made as a bast fibre (where the actual fibre structures of the plant are used to produce the yarn, like Hemp, Linen/Flax, Raimie/Nettle or Jute).
This is not the case.
“Rose fiber” is a Viscose. Viscose being a regenerated cellulose product and common sources of cellulose being wood pulp, soy, bamboo, and sugar cane. The environmental concerns with viscose/rayon production are well known.
….the term “rose fiber” refers to a protein-enriched cellulose fiber, particularly a blend of cellulose and rice protein. Synonyms for “rose fiber” are “rousi fiber” and “rose fiber viscose”. The raw material of rose fiber is derived from plants. […] In particular, the protein is rice protein. [….] The handfeel is fairly soft like the surface of the rose leaf, so it called rose fiber. However, rose fiber does not necessarily have to be derived from rose bushes. Rose fiber is produced by viscose spinning.patents.google.com/patent/WO2018158391A1/en
One website also lists it as being: Protein “Rose” Fiber derived from “mixed cereals”. (Cereal crops are things like rice, wheat, oats. Rose bushes aren’t a cereal crop)
The suspicion felt about the source of the cellulose in “rose fiber” would appear to be justified. There aren’t too many places in the world with large tracts of rose bushes grown for their wood…..
Now, when you google for “rose fiber” there is an absolute plethora of websites eagerly selling this fibre “made from rose bushes”. It is quite disheartening to see people taken in by this without proper investigation into the truth of the claims.
New products coming out include yarn that is a pretty rose pink as its “natural” colour. The manufacturer claims (along with a whole bunch of large, scientific words that may or may not be used accurately) that rose flowers are turned into powder and then added to the viscose solution prior to spinning (like “pearl fibre”) and so it is natural (!) and lists a bunch of supposed health benefits. Am looking forward to some proof in the way of scientific analysis on that?! How many natural “health benefits” are going to survive the highly chemical viscose process?
Bottom line is: this product is highly unlikely to be made from ACTUAL rose bushes.
The “rose fiber” feels lovely and is a novelty to spin and use but let’s try stop the misinformation that it is anything but viscose rayon from undefined sources.
“Better late than never”
Finally (finally!) have all the Drysdales shorn which means they are fly-safe, grass seed-safe and happy campers in general!
It’s been a challenge to get my shearer – have been trying for 2 months – but we’re all good now.
A good shearer is a thing to cherish. There are more good shearers around than some “interest groups” would like you to believe. The handful of “bad apples” wouldn’t last long here that’s for sure.
So, back to the fluff! This was the first shearing for the Drysdale lambs (born Aug-Sept). There aren’t many breeds of sheep that can produce 15-20cm (4-6″) of wool growth in their first 4 months! Give a Drysdale protein and it just pumps out the wool.
As you will know (from reading the info on our Drysdale page…) the Drysdale fleece is a primitive type of fleece with medullated outer coat and soft, fine undercoat. In lambs this is less defined as the undercoat is typically the same length as the outercoat at this stage.
This means they need shearing 2-3 times a year, on average, to keep the fleece to a “commercial” length.
This was the first time for the lambs in the shearing shed (they will see a bit of it over their lives….) and it was a warm day today. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised as to just how ZEN the lambs were this time.
Lambs aren’t supposed to be this quiet… they are supposed to be stark-raving loonies, terrified by the world and trying to kill each other in the process. Ooops. Drysdales didn’t get that memo! 😆 😆
I said zen…. ahem….
And even afterwards the calm continues:
Heck, some of them even had a nap in the “going out chute”. 😆 Unheard of!
Extra trivia: when you wear 40 micron wool it’s great to get it off and have a good scratch!
It’s nearly time for the biggest Sheep Show in Australia. 🙂 A place where there are mountains of wool and thousands of sheep!!
Held at the Bendigo Prince of Wales Showgrounds annually this event should be HUGE. 😀
I’ve been flat out getting wool ready for sale as well as the sheep. Lots and lots of dyeing has been going on.
If you can come along on Friday 14th – Sunday 16th July then you should!
I will be in the Flower Shed, just next to Gate 1, selling the wool from Beersheba Farm. The sheep (Gilbert & Co) will be in the Regional Exhibition Centre. Look for the Drysdale green&white flag!
Gilbert seems pretty excited about going!!
Available for sale will be undyed & hand-dyed combed tops from Beersheba Farm as well as hand-dyed English Leicester locks, coffee mugs and all manner of items…. 😉
The last few weeks have been busy with getting ready for shearing and then the actual shearing (for nearly a full week) and now just catching up on everything else!
The fleeces were quite good this year but some did show damage from the summer rainfall events we had over December/January.
Shearing here is a small affair compared to my neighbours and “the big guys”. I only get in one shearer (that I trust) and a neighbour helps with the classing. We generally do 100-130 per day. (Pretty small compared to the thousands at some places! hehe) Normally, the wool is pressed into large bales as we go. This year I had to put the wool aside and then bale it after the event.
One question I get asked is: “why do you shear when it is getting close to winter??”
The answer is a little complex but I will attempt to explain.
- One major factor has to do with the tensile strength of the wool fibre and the role that different phases of reproduction have on it. In this case, when the ewes lamb and then lactate it puts stress on the system and they divert protein from wool growth into their pregnancy and milk. This can cause a thinner/weaker area to develop along the fibre. If the stressful period is nearly halfway between shearings then the fibre can have a “break” (ie. “tender”) right in the middle. So, a fleece that is a very usable length of 8-10cm all of a sudden becomes downgraded because its length will be 4-5cm when put under tension. Processing puts stress on the fibres and for combed wools the minimum length is 5cm/50mm. Sound wool (ie. not tender) is much preferred by the processors and tender wool gets a discounted price. Since shifting the shearing time to May the merino wool from the farm has greatly improved tensile strength which means better product (less pilling and less wastage, also the fibre length is maintained at the 10-11cm).
- With the weather becoming cooler the sheep adjust their metabolism accordingly. Cool weather is becoming the “norm” and so if colder weather/rain comes after shearing then they handle it better than if, say, they were shorn in the warmer weather and then a cold snap happened. Sudden cold weather in the summer months is more likely to cause problems.
- The shearing off of the fleece stimulates wool growth and oil secretions so post-shearing there will be a surge in wool growth which helps to provide the sheep with some growth going into the winter and the extra oils provide protection from the wet and cold. Each breed is a little different. For example, the Drysdales grow their wool so fast anyway that within a month of shearing they have over 25mm of growth. The Merino ewes I have are also growing wool quite fast (comparatively, to some lines of Merino) – they are almost at the point of being able to shear twice a year.
- There is also the benefit that because at lambing the ewes feel the cold more, they lamb in more protected areas which helps to reduce lambing losses due to wind/cold exposure.
Shearing is a necessary activity for the health and well-being of the sheep. Done in a professional manner it is all completed in under 3 minutes per sheep. When the sheep has been released it is generally relaxed, will chew its cud and often they have a scratch (they can finally “get at that spot”!) Sometimes, they even try to come back into the shed…!