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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival

Believe it or not, it was almost 2 weeks ago. The Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. Shame on me for not having blogged about it more quickly, but seriously, this time of year seems to be incredibly busy. I have classes 3 days a week (Monday through Wednesday) that result in me only being at work for 4 hours a day. I study Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights. Then, I desperately try to catch up at work on Thursday and Friday. The weekends are a blur of housework, laundry, studying, feeding farm critters, and the usual errands. It's just madness.

Anyway, all the madness was put aside on September 11-13 because Kelly and I went to Jefferson, Wisconsin. We had 3 marvelous days at the Sheep and Wool Festival. It was a fabulous show. On Friday, we spent the entire day in classes called "Sheep 101." This was a full day seminar on sheep care and management. I think we learned more in that one day than we have in the entire past 9 months (or so) of having sheep. We did classes on nutrition, parasite management, wool marketing, conformation, shearing, lambing, you name it, we did it! Here is one of our instructors showing how to put a sheep on its bottom for shearing or hoof work.
The various instructors through the day were tremendously helpful, willing to answer any question, and really interested in helping people learn. I was really impressed by their enthusiasm and their dedication to the sheep industry and to helping new shepherds learn the ropes.

We were able to see lambs that were newborns, specifically bred in time for the show, so that they could demonstrate tasks such as ear tagging, castration, clipping the umbilical cord, etc.
On Saturday and Sunday, I did classes in learning to spin the Icelandic fleece (very useful since we have Icelandics) and also in plying techniques. We spent time looking at everything the many vendors had to offer, and making some exciting purchases. We spent a lot of time looking at sheep, especially Blue Faced Leicesters, Shetlands, and Corriedales. We deliberated our farm needs and wants, and thought about the future of our flock. We learned more about different breeds and their behaviours and characteristics. Kelly attended some other events while I was in classes, such as sheepdog trials and shearing demonstrations.

There were many breeds featured at the show, including:
Katadhin hair sheep...
...Dorpers...
...Polled Dorsets...
...Texels...
...really adorable Shetlands...
...Lincolns with beautiful curly fleeces...
...and even Clun Forest sheep, which are relatively rare.
Truly, it was a valuable weekend and we learned a great deal. We also got to meet a number of online friends, including some folks from the Ravelry website of which I am a member, and also some folks from blogs that I list. We met up with Corinne from Crosswinds Farm, as well as Carol from Zephyr Sheep Farm.

Here is one of Carol's beautiful and oh-so-friendly Blue Faced Leicesters. They were such well mannered sheep!
Here are a couple of beautiful black Shetland sheep that I really wanted to abduct.


And a whole gaggle of Shetland ewes who stole my heart...
Sadly, I had to console myself with the mere fact that I made significant progress on my very first knitted sock, since I was unable to purchase any sheep. We didn't take the livestock trailer...sort of deliberately....because Kelly knows I am weak willed around sheep. I did buy some lovely yarn and roving for spinning, though. Here's the sock, for anyone who wants to keep track of my first knitted item (beyond a small rectangle of knit stitch, which was my first practice piece)


11 comments:

Michelle said...

That's your second knitted item -- only #2? You are truly amazing and very gutsy -- and it is working out very well for you! Too bad you didn't bring home any Shetlands. A friend of mine raises miniature horses, and her slogan fits Shetlands: "Buy two; they're small." Hee!

Kara said...

I agree with Michelle! Only your second knitted item and you tackle SOCKS and doing a great job. You are a brave woman. In my case I started with 1 Shetland and 2 other sheep. Still have the 3 original, but now I have 24 Shetlands at the moment...soon to be 22 (two sold leaving in Oct. and Nov.) I think you NEED a few Shetlands! :)

corinne said...

Yes, you need LOTS of Shetlands, and I know a place just down the interstate where you can get some :).

Lola Nova said...

It looks and sounds as though you two got quite a lot out of the show!
All those lovely sheep!
I am super impressed with your sock, awesome!

Oh you busy woman, I hope that the craziness is temporary and that you can remember to take a deep breath every once and a while.
Take care of yourself.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

What? No Navajo Churros? No Karakuls?

Those Lincolns sure caught my eye, though. Their wool reminds me of my angora goat's mohair. Nice!

Looks like you are making some real progress on your socks (they are a pair, right? (wink-wink) and you aren't really knitting while wearing them....right? hehehe!)

~Lisa

Holly said...

I must agree with Michelle. Socks for your second project, wow! I made mittens over and over again before moving on. Your socks are looking great!

Gail V said...

Jeez, Claire, I was there too! And didn't meet you and Kelly! I was so sorry to learn that I missed the opportunity.
Ah well. Nice pics of the sheeps you saw, here. Sounds like the Shepherding class was informative.

Candy Jane said...

Hey, I was there! Your photos were a good "wasn't that fun"! We had a great weekend (neighbor with flock of Border Leisters and our vet's wife - a dangerous combination!) with plans for next year. I'm a LOOOOONG time knitter and am just NOW taking a class on knitting socks. You go, girl!
And I'm seriously Shetland deprived - I NEED one - or two.

Candy Jane said...

Hi again -
I've wandered around your blog, enjoying your lifestyle. I have several posts re WI Sheep show, if you want to take a peek - i might have a few things you missed, as I saw some I missed after looking at your pics!
http://staufferbirds.blogspot.com/
Curious - what classes are you taking? Lifelong learning is a wonderful thing!

angie said...

oh wow does this look like it was a good time!

I am so there next year!

Anil P said...

Never seen such a variety of sheep.