On February 17th, family gathered at Hillingdon for the annual sausage making shindig.
Deer meat from the hunting season was combined with pork & the family’s spice recipe to make pan, cooking, & hard sausage.
Many hands made light work. Laughs, story telling, & fellowship made for a memorable day!
Spring shearing season is in full swing! We had an exceptionally wet winter, so the start to shearing was delayed some.
Lots of time has gone into gathering pastures, shearing, grading mohair, skirting wool fleeces, baling, & sorting livestock .
Nanny & kid goats are sheared twice a year, while billy goats & sheep are
sheared only once a year. Annually, nannies produce about 8-10 lbs of mohair. Billies produce about 12 lbs of mohair annually. Ewes produce about 6-7 lbs of wool annually, while rams produce about 8-10 lbs of wool annually.
The spring mohair clip is always finer & of higher quality than the fall clip. Since the goats have less available green forage during the winter, protein intake is less. A decrease in protein intake results in lighter but finer fleeces during spring shearing.
Once the shearer has sheared the mohair off the goat, the picker puts the hair into a box & places it on the grading table. The hair is then graded based on handle & fiber diameter, which is measured in microns. Due to years of breeding, our adult goats grade yearling or kid hair. This is finer than most other adult goats. Our kids grade kid hair, which is the finest mohair there is. A good rule of thumb is the finer the hair, the higher the value or price.
After the hair is graded, it is put into the appropriate wooden box based on its grade. Once the box is full, it is put into the packer to be baled. When the bag is full, it is fastened shut with staples. It is then marked with our brand, the grade of hair, & the date.
Once the wool is sheared off the sheep, the fleece is gathered up & flung onto the skirting table where it is ‘skirted’. Skirting is removing parts of the fleece that are extra dirty or full of manure or vegetable matter.
The cleaner wool is then placed in the wool packer, baled, & labeled. The skirts are processed the same way.
The nanny goats & ewes are sheared in the Spring just before kidding & lambing starts. There is still a chance of cold weather at this time. If a cold &/or wet spell hits, a shorn nanny or ewe will be uncomfortable. She will then be more likely to seek shelter for her & her kid/lamb. If she was in mohair or wool when a spell hit, she wouldn’t be uncomfortable & probably wouldn’t seek shelter. As you can see, shearing just before kidding & lambing increases the survival rate for newborn kids & lambs if cold &/or wet weather hits.