Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sheepfest Brings Spring At Last!

Saturday dawned sunny and clear, perfect weather for the 14th Annual Sheepfest! Lily and Hunter were lured up into the barn Friday evening for dinner so that we could load them right into the trailer in the morning and not have to run around the back yard after them. They were not too sure about making the trip but settled down once at the park in their pen.

The shearer, Jeff Jordan, arrived and had already begun shearing the early arrivals by the time I arrived at 8AM. The hall was buzzing with activity as the New Country School folks set about getting the food ready on the stage and the vendor/demonstrators added the finishing touches to their displays. Cones had to be set out, signs had to be put into position, cars had to be moved once unloaded.

It was busy all day! I never even got over to the pavilion to watch the shearing and get some good pictures until the last sheep was half sheared! His name is Romeo, a merino ram. Jeff handled him deftly and soon he was as free of fleece as all the others. First path of the shears goes down the middle. The next cuts clear the belly and the legs before Jeff rolls him over to clear the fleece on his back. Romeo didn't seem to mind too much. he has been through this process before. Being a merino he has lots of folds and wrinkles in his skin so it takes a little more time to shear his fleece.
It is pretty amazing that a shearer can shear a fleece in a matter of a few minutes. Jeff takes more time because these sheep are from a spinner's flock and he makes long smooth cuts with the shears.

Look at that grin! He is so happy to be free of his winter coat and looking forward to spending the next few months relieved of its weight! It isn't often we see a sheep grin - but they do now and then and we are lucky to catch it with the camera.
After it was all over Romeo just lay there resting for a while. Maybe he was enjoying the day, the smell of the new grass, the trip to a new place, the sound of the water rushing over the dam. Who knows - he just seemed to be very happy and content. He was all relaxed while he had his hooves clipped, too.

Next his fleece was tossed onto the skirting table where the crew spread it out and removed the soiled areas and got it bagged, weighed and ready for the processor.

Meanwhile back in the hall things hadn't slowed down a bit. People were coming in right up through the last hour to see all the things going on there. The booths were as colorful and varied as in past years and there were many lovely fibers and beautiful finished items - kits, mittens, hats, scarves, slippers and sweaters. Visitors could see felting, spinning and color blending and more. They could find a wide variety of roving and yarns from wool, alpaca, angora, mohair, silk and assorted blends.

And happy people everywhere!

These are just a few of the demonstrators - Janet Conner, Diane Knowlen and Lucy Rogers. It is great that they were still smiling at the end of the day!

It was a day full of sights and sounds, color and texture, friendship and laughter. For some it was a long day. Aidan didn't quite make it all the way through, but we all had a great time!

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