Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shepherd's Harvest 2009

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Merino kisses Last weekend, over Mother's Day, was the 12th Annual Shepherd's Harvest Festival, a celebration of all things wool and natural fibers, and the animals they come from. Sweetie and I spent all day Saturday cruising the vendor booths and animal barns, admiring wool products in all of it's stages, from still on the animal, to raw fleeces freshly shorn off the sheep, to rovings and yarns and wonderful fiber products.
braided roving rug I thought spending an entire day at the event would be enough to see all of the booths and the animals displays - I was wrong. I could have easily spent two or three more days. I did also attend on Sunday, but spent the entire day happily learning how to braid wool roving rugs, a class taught by Letty Klein, co-author of the book The Shepherd's Rug.

Karakul ewesIronically, when we walked through the sheep barn the day before, I was struck by a pair of adorable jet black ewes, with silky lustrous curly locks that reminded me of angora goats. The sign over their stall indcated they were owned by Letty, part of her flock at Pine Lake Farm Karakuls. I had never heard of a Karakul sheep before. I was intrigued, and even more so after meeting Letty and hearing about this ancient breed that has all but disappeared from the US. Karakul may be the most ancient breed of sheep. They originated in the deserts of Africa and Asia, and have the ability to store up fat in their tails, thus being categorized as a "fat tail" variety. The adult wool is of a courser quality but felts excellently and is therefore highly prized as a rug wool. But whatever their history, one thing is certain - the lambs are outrageously beautiful. spinning off the hare Aside from the many wonderful breeds of sheep, we visited goats, angora rabbits (including a woman spinning directly off of her rabbit!) and of course, my beloved camelids. Although the barns held more llamas than alpacas, I enjoyed perusing the stalls and viewing the animals getting groomed for the shows the next day. I look forward to the day I might have some guard llamas or pack llamas of my own. Not to mention some of those Karakul sheep... perhaps a milk goat or two... the possibilities truly are endless, and an event like Shepherd's Harvest really does incite one to dream big.

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