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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Iowa State Fair: Day Two

The State Fair opened on a Thursday. That was my "Day One" post. You might have thought we'd had enough....but no, we hadn't! Back we went for Day Two, Friday at the Fair! So what was so important that we had to go back for the second day in a row? Oh....need you even ask? MORE SHEEP!!!

Seriously, the Lincoln Longwool sheep show was on Friday morning, and there was no way I was going to miss that one. Longwool sheep have beautiful fleeces, and as a spinner, I needed my "fix" of beautiful sheep. Not that there was anything wrong with the Corriedale and Rambouillet of Thursday - they were beautiful in their own right. But, not beautiful like this!
Oh the curls....the sweet, soft, precious curls. I cannot resist these sheep! I just adore both the white and natural coloured versions!
Lincoln Longwool sheep are the native sheep of Lincolnshire, which is located on the east coast of England. The breed had a strong following in Canada at the end of the 18th century, when it began to be imported to the North American continent. It is one of the largest breeds of sheep, with rams weighing up to 350 lbs! However, it's also a fairly calm and well-behaved breed, so easy to manage. The ewes often only have single lambs, unlike our Icelandic flock, which is known for multiple births.

We also took in the Columbia sheep show.
Not our favourite breed, but still nice sheep. The rams can weigh 300 plus pounds, and the ewes up to 225. We arent' that excited about huge sheep.
They do produce a lot of wool - up to 16 lbs in a shearing. But, they also have high grease, so that the fleece only yields about 50% of its weight after cleaning. Columbia sheep came from Rambouillet and Lincoln cross breeding programs started by the USDA in 1912. Really though, this man holding this sheep is not incredibly short. He's a bit shorter than me, but I'm 5 foot 10, so he's not THAT short. The sheep is just huge! I mean....it goes up to his CHIN for goodness sake! That is a massive sheep!
They do come in black, which makes for lovely fleece...
We had intended to go to a talk about growing grapes in Iowa, but to be honest, both Kelly and I were really tired and kind of dragging after lunch. We decided to call it a day and head for home.

Today, Saturday, we had thought we might go to see the sheep shearing competition, but then we decided that we can see sheep shearing at home every year now, and we'd save that for another time. Tomorrow I will be at the fair from 9 am to 3 pm, doing spinning demonstration on my wheel. We will have wool roving supplied for spinning, and then as we spin, the yarn is provided to knitters, who will knit hats for charity. It's a sheep-to-roving-to-yarn-to-garment sort of event, and I'm pleased to be a part of it.

Next week, we plan on attending the llama show, the dairy goat show, and the angora goat show! Those will be next weekend, so watch for posts on those if you are enjoying the fair posts!

Oh, one more thing. I....uhhh....well.....you all know me by now....I have this little problem when it comes to beautiful fleeces. This little sort of addiction thing. It's quite harmless really - nothing like tobacco or gambling or crack! Although, the pull is quite irresistible....see the delightful lady to the far right? She was selling fleeces from her prize-winning flock. Oh the temptation....
I managed to restrain myself. One Lincoln fleece and one Corriedale fleece. The Corriedale is jet black, even though the flash makes it look a little grey. It's going to be a beautiful spinning fleece.
But the Lincoln. It nearly makes me pass out to touch it. I bought the 3rd place winning fleece at the fair wool show (which was on Thursday night, which we could not attend). The only reason it came in 3rd is because there is some vegetative matter in the fleece. That means some little bits of hay. It's next to nothing, but it was enough to put it into 3rd place, which in my opinion is a tragedy, because this fleece is like liquid silver.
It ranges from deep, dark grey through light silvery grey, through white. No picture can do this fleece justice. It is just incredible. I am thrilled to have it, and will be even more thrilled to spin it. The fact that I was able to buy it, nearly made me swoon. Pardon me, I have to go touch my fleece again...

10 comments:

IsobelleGoLightly said...

I think I'd be a little scared of those GIANT SHEEP! Well, I've never seen a sheep in person before so I'd probably be scared anyway...but....I think I could ride one of those Sheepses! Could you knit me a nice winter sweater with your lovely new grey fleece? Goat kisses from Isobelle!

Holly said...

My passion is Merino, Cormo, and Alpaca unless there is some fine camel sitting around. So know your in like company because a new spinning wheel just arrived and I lost my head and ordered wool to go with it. It isn't as if I didn't have four garbage bags full in the basement already. So negative comments won't be coming from me.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Believe me, we understand. :-)

Mom L said...

I'm still waiting for you to take something living home with you!!!

But the fleece is gorgeous (fleeces are? what's proper?)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How cool that you were able to buy ribbon winning fleece at the fair. I had no idea that there was selling go on during the fair. Now I might just have to check out my own options at the fair. I've never even seen the livestock shows (well except for goats) at the state fair.
I think it's neat that you'll be doing a spinning demo, too.
That is one gorgeous fleece. I hope you'll share an after pic of how the yarn turns out after you spin it, too.

But those HUGE sheep! They scare me. I've never seen sheep that big. They weigh more than my llamas! I suppose kids could never show them in 4H...too dangerous. They'd be bigger than the kids. Shooeee! Those sheep are as large as a pony!
They would be perfect for the rodeo mutton bustin'/events. lol!

I might now have nightmares about those sheep. gah!

~Lisa

Dani said...

I've never seen sheep that large either....wow!

Gail V said...

Y'know, I think I've seen those Lincoln Longwools at our MN State Fair. Nice older couple owned them. Those Columbia are ponies, all right. The silver ringlet fleece you bought is just plain amazing. Who would pass that up?
Happy spinning.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

I can't believe the size of those sheep! We may take some of our goats to the NC State Fair in October, we'll see. Glad y'all had a good time.

Nancy K. said...

I'm really enjoying learning about the different sheep breeds and enjoying your photos! Thanks for sharing.

That silver fleece IS breath taking....

Farm Chick Paula said...

Oh, Claire- I've enjoyed seeing your pictures from the fair so much!! I only wish our hometown fair had as many sheep breeds to see, but... *sigh*...
Love the fleece, too.. I would spend all day just touching it!