There's no way to put this delicately. The first stage in the very long journey that begins with a fleece straight off a sheep and ends in a hand-knitted sweater begins with... Let's just say that sheep--and, to judge from the evidence, rams especially, and one ram in particular called Gaston--have little acquaintance with what in France is called papier hygiénique. Nor, come to that, do ewes.
Co-fleece-owner Amanda and I had the idea that we'd take our fleeces down to the communal village washing sinks where we thought one tap still worked. It didn't. So we decided to do the preliminary work (called "skirting") on her lawn.The first surprise was their size when we unrolled them. The second was that, even though they'd been tied up for almost a week, the fleeces didn't smell too dreadful when we opened the big garbage bags and tipped the contents on to the lawn. They definitely smelled but in a good, open air, country-ish, barnyard-y way.
Just as well or we might have abandoned the whole project. I'd downloaded TMI (Too Much Information) from the Internet. Amanda had printed it out so she was able to consult it as we dug our way through the fleeces coming upon large iridescent and very dead flies, and feeling (sensitive readers, skip the next section) for lumpy or crispy bits to remove. Needless to say, the cats thought they'd discovered the largest mother cat ever.