Sunday, April 27, 2008

The First Fiber Fair of 2008

Last Saturday, here in Maine we had our first fiber fair(I think) of the year, the Denmark Fiber Fest. It was in an itsy little town towards New Hampshire: Denmark, very rural and very Maine. They had booths in the arts center (think old fashion grange hall with a stage on one end) with a variety of fiber folk selling their wares. It was nice that they were all smaller producers, Peace Fleece was the only company I had heard of. Outside they had a pen with some alpacas, and the bunny lady who was doing demos of spinning right off her bunny. Across the street in a small pavilion was the shearing.

The general gist of what they did was have a shearer and a vet come in for the day, and people who had animals, but not enough to have a shearer come to them, brought them in. There seemed to be some type of reservation system for times, and there was a small row of pens that the animals were in.
This llama was from a llama education program of some type, and the owner wanted to try and sheer it standing up. I am not a llama expert, but from what I have seen, sheering llamas involves tying the front legs to one end of a barn, and the back legs to the other, and stretching. While this was a well behaved llama, it did not make it very far in the shearing process before the shearer smartly gave up.
A sheep. The cool thing was that as the sheep were getting shearer, they had a skirting table (you can see the end of it on the left) set up, and volunteers would skirt it, weigh it, bag it, and if the owners didn't want the fleece or already had it reserved, it was for sale, then and there. I was tempted by a jet black yearling fleece that came off a very cute little sheep with a pink collar, but I resisted.
Some of the sheep did not want to go where they needed to. This seemed easier to deal with if said sheep had horns. Other sheep wanted to go really the wrong direction. Again, handles aka long fleece, helped steer them.
He was very pretty, and icelandic sheep. His fleece was for sale, it had guard hairs similar to llamas.
The sheep came in all sorts of vehicles, mostly a mostly assortment of trailers and mod'ed flatbeds, this farm brought about a dozen sheep in a trailer, then opened the back of the truck, and there were 3-5 more in there!
These are some of their sheep, I know at least some of them were merino. They were sooooooo lanolin-ey, you could see it glisten in the sun if you parted their fleece.
Sheep butt!! The brown I know are merino, I think they might all be merino. They wouldn't stand still enough to take a picture, but their fleece was so curly in parts that it was kinked on itself, kinda like when you go too thin spinning and overspin and it gets snarly.
I think I stayed for 3 hours or so, watching them shear. After the shearing was even more exciting, cause they had to hold them still so the vet could give them shots, and then get them back into their pens, then later in the trailers to go home. Trouble was they sheared off the handles, so there was nothing for the farmers to hold on to. There were two near runaways, and several close calls with children being stampeded by slightly out of control sheep and their human steerers. I won't get on my soapbox about parents letting their children toddle unsupervised. I like to think that a fiber fair is one of those places it's okay for kids to wander around, but at times, a simple "Suzie! Watch out for the 200 pound sheep and two grown men barreling towards you!!" would be helpful.
I also saw the largest sheep I have ever seen. She was a four year old Corriedale, and her back was at waist height. She had been coated, and her fleece, which the owner was keeping to spin, was so long, 5 inches wouldn't be an overestimate. She was like a giant marshmallow. She got there just as I was leaving, or I would have loved to see the before and after shearing difference.

In a week, MARYLAND SHEEP AND WOOL, here I come!!!!


Blogger Bezzie said...

I love that shot of all their heads together. Hee hee.

6:26 AM  

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