The box of sheep fleece is still sitting in the dining room. I did take the step of emailing the store nearby who teaches spinning but haven't yet heard back (I probably ended up in spam), so I've gotta follow up on that. But, just as I was wondering why I got this fleece in February, I got a letter from Caroline Owens explaining why their farm operation shears in January:
1. The wool is stronger now than in late pregnancy due to the nutritional demands of the growing lambs.
2. The wool is cleaner because the little lambs haven't been trying to climb on mom.
3. It's easier to tell when the sheep is near to lambing time if her wool is trimmed close.
4. The lamb can feed more easily when he can find the udder, not hidden by a bunch of wool.
5. A shorn ewe is more likely to seek shelter in the barn when she's ready to lamb rather than stay out in bad weather.
6. Winter shearing does help the family spread out the work load and helps the sheep avoid suffering in an early heat wave.
So, now we know!