Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sheapshearing Festival

I was unable to attend this event last year (and I think it rained, besides), so I was delighted to go this year with my friend, Laura, who was visiting from Pittsfield. She might have had visions of an urban escape from the pastoral Berkshire hills, but I dragged her to look at farm animals. I couldn't help it.

I've always had a soft spot for sheep ("shear a sheep" has always been on my list of things to do in life) and I had a great time at the 21st Annual Sheapshearing Festival at Gore Place in Waltham. There were some wonderful craft booths, too, from which I found some much-needed inspiration right now.

We were so impressed with the Sheepdog Herding demonstration. I have never seen such obedient, hard-working dogs! Five of them worked together, listening carefully to commands, to round up small groups of sheep and goats (and ducks!). By the time we watched them, the dogs had been working since the opening of the festival. Their owner mentioned that, at this point, the dogs weren't quite as attentive and were baffled that they hadn't yet finished their herding job (they sure looked attentive to me!). He spoke about the importance of playtime and the dogs' understanding of worktime versus playtime. After hours of hard work, a special whistle was blown, and the dogs immediately left their workposts, happily running free about the field. It was a great metaphor for my own life, really — inspiration from a very unexpected source!

At the other end of the field were the sheapshearing demonstrations. Safe to say, I have scratched "shear a sheep" from my list of things to do in life! Here, a man sheared an angora goat...with big, pointy horns.

A group of shorn sheep:

Exploring the different vendors' tents, we were able to see the wool yarn-making process, starting with unspun wool.

A man spinning wool:

The yarn was so soft and vibrant! Thank you, sheep!

1 comment:

Cami said...

Yes, Thank you, beupies! I would have LOVED to go to this festival! Did you ever go to Mr. Fife's farm in 6th grade? When my class went, he sheared a sheep and the sheep had a little, um, bug infestation on his skin. It was unexpected... and gross.

Ha ha. I can just see you and Laura at this event. How fun! :o)