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Posted 1/19/2019 7:15pm by Michele.


Aegean lace wool

Winter is finally setting in on the farm and the sheep are dressed for the weather. We are busy dyeing new colors and working on a new website. Aegean is available now in Lace and Super Bulky in the yarn store.

Tags: aegean, lace, wool
Posted 5/7/2014 11:35am by Eugene Wyatt.

Realizing that Greenmarket was a food market was a step toward the sheep breaking even. It took me a long time to see this. I got my first Merino  ewes in 1986 and I flatter myself that the sheep must like me or they wouldn't keep me around as long as they have.

And I'm proud of my sheep too. I'd always defined my Saxon Merino sheep as a fiber flock; they are purebred Saxon Merino (the only sheep who could rival their wool quality are where the Saxon Merino sires came from, Australia); the AFD (average fiber diameter) of their wool is 17 microns, their clean wool yield is in the high 60 percentiles—I imported world class Ultrafine wool sires (from the Sierra Park stud in Victoria and the Bullamalita stud in New South Wales) in the fine micron ranges, 15-18 µ  (1 micron or 1 µ is a millionth of a meter).  A fine wool fiber flock is successful by a distance thinner than the skin of your teeth

Yes money wise, I could do better with my Saxon Merino sheep by redefining themThe Saxon Merino is a small sheep and doesn't breed large, fast maturing market lambs—revenue from the fine wool was there but revenue from market lamb wasn't—I needed larger rams, terminal sires.

Several years ago I bought seven large Corriedale rams (Lincoln x Merino); they were almost twice the size of Saxon merino rams and weighed almost 400 lb. 

Now I had big Corriedale rams and I would have  soon fast maturing crossbred offspring—but I've always thought of myself as a Saxon Merino breeder, and still do. The Saxon Merino ewe is dear to me. I get more money for a breeding ewe than for a breeding ram which is unusual in breeding stock business. But their offspring will be "purebred" when a Saxon Merino ram of mine mates a Saxon Merino ewe of mine. You can import a Saxon Merino ram, but let me emphasize, Australia will not permit the export of merino ewes of any type. After eleven generations of breeding I have not only a virtual treasure, but a real one as well, in my Saxon Merino ewes—I have purebreds that will breed and pass on their wool traits—but I hate to sell breeding stock. Yes, you could think of me as a Saxon Merino miser, and why, we'll tell that in another tale.

Of course, all my breeding ewes are purebred Saxon Merino. Some ewes I breed to purebred Saxon Merino rams for their wool qualities and some I breed to Corriedale rams for their large and fast growing lambs.

Looking at the first lamb crop after using Corriedale rams to mate Saxon Merino ewes, I could see profitability in these large and fast growing lambs—the direction was there. I would be getting more money per head—the net was better too—as the cost of raising the sheep, no matter the breed, was similar.

Saxon Merino sheep sound like a business, but that's to fool you, they really are a love affair.

An old joke comes to mind: a farmer wins the Lottery and his wife asks him, "What are you going to do with all that money?" He thinks for a moment, then says, "Keep farming, until it's all gone."

And that too.

Posted 3/12/2014 7:37am by Eugene Wyatt.

After shearing, I truck the wool in shearing bags to Adamstown, Pennsylvania, to the Bollman Hat Company where until 10 years ago they custom scoured the wool having a scouring train that was put in their factory in 1941. It's become unprofitable to scour there now; instead, I have it compressed and baled to truck by common carrier to San Angelo, Texas where Bollman has their new, higher-capacity scouring train.

Yesterday I rented a diesel truck from Budget with a 26 foot bed and filled it with 49 wool bags of Saxon Merino lamb's wool: 17 micron, Saxon Merino sheep's wool: 18 micron and crossbred lamb's wool: 22 micron, sired by Corriedale rams bred to Saxon Merino ewes.

Next: the scouring in Texas, the trucking to Vermont for spinning at Green Mountain before it appears at the stand for sale in the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday.

I forgot the ear buds to my iPhone, I couldn't listen to a recorded book as I usually do on these hour long drives and that was a good thing; as even though the truck was new, it was hard-riding and bouncy plus it slowed considerably on inclines, full or empty—it required attention and sometimes anticipation while driving.

Tags: Wool
Posted 10/21/2008 10:32pm by Catskill Merino.
Breeding began today. We classed the rams and selected four to put in with 160 breeding ewes.  This year we are using a syndicate to mate the ewes: by choosing the breeding rams from the same bloodline (the syndicate), a lamb sired by any one of them will have similar genetics on the sire side.
This year I liked the look of the yearling rams who've descended from Bullamalita BL 76, one of the original Saxon rams imported from Australia in 1991, and I chose his progeny for the syndicate.

 BL 76

I considered physical characteristics: particularly the ram's size, but I wanted smooth bodies (easier to shear); I looked for wide horns rather than horns close to the head, I preferred open faces to wooly ones, and finally I made a subjective consideration (meaning that I let myself be chosen by the ram): I looked at how the ram looked to me, how he carried himself—a ram knows when he's good—he's calm, he's proud and he makes you feel that he's regal, that he'll breed well and carry his genetic heritage forward.
Catskill Merino is a wool flock with one of the finest clips in the United States and we got that way by selecting  breeding rams for their wool.
Now with Dominique holding on to their horns to hold the rams still, I looked at their fleece, parting it with my fingers, looking for a bright white color, looking for fine wool with an AFD of 17-18 μ (1μ [micron] = 1/1,000,000th of a meter) as judged by touch, looking for uniformity in fineness from the shoulder to the rump and from the withers to the belly. 
Only rams with impeccable wool will breed Catskill Merino ewes.
I selected wool traits I didn't see in the merinos that I saw yesterday at Rhinebeck, which were large Delaine merinos, common sheep, not having the wool genetics that have been proudly bred into the Australian Saxon merino for centuries, bred into the rams that I imported and that I've bred into the ewes of my flock over the last 18 years.
Dominique recorded the rams' ear tag numbers then we put the boys with  the girls.  Lambs will begin to arrive 5 months from this day, over 200 lambs will be born in a 36 day period (the time of 2 estrus cycles), the length of time the rams will be with the ewes. 
The ewes look good, they are healthy coming off summer pasture, they will be good mothers.
Posted 10/21/2008 9:59pm by Catskill Merino.

Dominique and I went to the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck; our purposes were to look at yarn colors, buy dyeing books, discuss weaving and look at sheep.

We saw some nice hand painted yarns, we bought a book with good photos that explained the hand painting process, we discussed with Peggy Hart of Bedfellows Blankets weaving my yarn into coverlets early next year, and we looked down upon the big merinos there for their yellow, coarse wool with its AFD (average fiber diameter) of 23 microns—a greasy steel wool.
Tags: Sheep, Wool