Do you keep all your lambs?

The first year, with four sheep, we kept all four of our female lambs. The next year, we kept all eight. By the time we hit 36 sheep in the flock, I realized that we had to be more selective. Now I only keep the ewe lambs with the very best fleeces. The rest of the lambs are sold to Bosnian immigrants to help them keep their family traditions of roasting a lamb to celebrate birthdays and weddings.

See The Faces of Change and From Sheep to Shawl for stories about the immigrants and my sheep or wool.

How do I wash a fleece?

I wash my fleeces in hot water in my washing machine.

STOP! Before you put your fleece in the machine, read the rest of this answer. Fill the machine with hot water and turn off the machine.

Then add 1/4 cup clear dish washing detergent and one half of a large fleece or all of a small fleece (about 3 pounds of wool). Smoosh it under the water and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Spin to remove the water. Remove the fleece.

Refill the machine with hot water, turn off the machine. Add the fleece and let sit for 30 minutes. Spin.

If the rinse water was still soapy, repeat the rinse again. Don't ever let the machine agitate or you will felt the wool (See Felting a Wreath in my new book From Sheep to Shawl.)