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April 22, 2014 > Sheep Shearing Day

Sheep Shearing Day

Submitted By East Bay Regional Park District

Spring has sprung and it is time for the sheep at Ardenwood Historic Farm to receive their annual haircut. Watch as the farms sheep get sheared, try your hand at wool carding and see the transformation from fiber to yarn. Kids will enjoy stories about sheep and making their own wooly lamb to take home.

Ardenwood opened their sheep shearing to the public in 2007 as an opportunity for the community to get in touch with common, world-wide farming practices, and see first-hand part of the process of raising sheep. As you watch the shearing and sheep dog demonstrations, you are taking part in an ancient and fascinating culture. Sheep were one of the first animals to be domesticated (by the year 8000 BCE) and wool clothing goes back 6,000 years.

Currently, there are about 6.2 million sheep in the United States. The U.S. produces over 200 million pounds of lamb and mutton each year, and exports around 14.6 million pounds of wool. ThatÕs enough to make over 7 million sweaters! Wool is used in clothing, hosiery, upholstery, insulation, rugs, tennis balls, bedding products, and clean-up pads for oil and chemical spills.

Another product derived from wool is lanolin, a natural grease which is used in inks, adhesives, cosmetics, and lubricants. Sheep also produce milk, which makes delicious cheeses such as Roquefort, feta, ricotta and pecorina romano. Sheepskin, leather, and chamois are other valuable products that come from sheep hides.

There are many different breeds of sheep, ranging from 150 to 300 pounds. Ardenwood has two types of sheep: Romney and Suffolk, as well as a few cross breeds.

The Romney traces its beginning to the marshy area of Kent in England and were introduced into the United States in 1904. Their traits include hooves that are resistant to foot rot and fleeces that remain healthy in harsh weather. They are a medium-sized, white-faced breed with wool extending on the legs. They produce a coarse, long-stapled fleece that is well suited for spinning. ArdenwoodÕs Romneys have white or grey wool.

The Suffolk originated in England from a cross between Southdown and Norfolk breeds and were imported into the U.S. in 1888. They are the largest-sized breed in the U.S. and are primarily raised for meat. They have black faces and legs and their lambs are all black when theyÕre born.

14 sheep in all (one male and 13 ewes) will be going to the barber on Sunday, April 27. After the sheep are shorn, their wool is washed and carded and used in educational programs at Ardenwood.

Watch talented docents ply their craft at the great walking wheel or the conventional spinning wheel. Carding prepares the wool for spinning; give it a try with a pair of hand cards or the drum carder. Pass the shuttle, change the shed and pull the beater bar as you help weave on the table top loom.

Sheep shearing happens only once a year, so donÕt miss your chance to see it!

Sheep Shearing Day
Sunday, Apr 27
11 a.m. Ð 4 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont
(510) 544-2797
Fee: $8 adults, $6 seniors (62+), $5 children (4-17 yrs.), 3 yrs. & under free
Free Parking

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