Sunday, June 19, 2011


We have attended the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival for the last 2 years. This year, we decided we would go all out. We joined the Iowa Association last fall, so now we are 'one of them'. I was on the books to teach a needle felting class at the festival. We had an ad in the booklet. Then we signed up to take Natural Colored Sheep for the Hall of Breeds, and have a booth to go with it.

So, we called the Chore Boy, bought Dolly a new bone to help her pass the time alone in the kennel, and otherwise made arrangements. I even made up some special 'sheep' oriented pieces. (Which mostly sold).

We sheared the Corriedale ram at the last minute (well, the night before), so we could show his fleece. Good call, as it won 2nd in the show. I happened to be walking by just as the judge was making his comments on it, and he was very complimentary. We will be keeping him. I, on the other hand, will be more watchful and insistent on getting those covers changed in a timely manner.

I'm not sure which factor was the deciding one - my husband's frugality, or the recent rise of gas prices. Whichever, he announced one day that we would be taking the van. "But the sheep!" I protested. "We have to take sheep." No problem. He figured 3 lambs would easily fit in the back of the van.

I had my doubts. He exuded confidence. And in he end, he won. And it worked.

I had to condense my things (literally), to make it all fit, but the fleeces and wool squished down pretty well. Once again, I was glad felt doesn't break. There was even room for the jar of air freshener on the side. (Which was appreciated later). Note - in the future if such travel is planned, said traveling sheep will not be fed prior to departure.

When we arrived on the festival grounds, I went in to the office to check in. When i came out of the building, there was Don with the back of the van open. And we had already been noticed. One of the Board members was waiting to take a picture. "I won't show your license plate," he said enthusiastically, as if that helped. But he then admitted he had done it himself many times over the years, much to his families' dismay. We shepherds are a practical lot

The lambs were settled in to their accommodations, which were quite nice. They were soon joined by their neighbors the Royal Whites, The Lincolns, and the Romneys. The Shetlands, Jacobs, some CVM's, and others were there too.

The booth was set up across the aisle from the sheep. It got a fair amount of attention, and we were happy we even sold some fleeces.

I taught the class, and had some talented students who caught on quickly, and had some nice work to show for the afternoon.

We took turns staying with the booth while the other walked around. I talked a long while with the guy who makes drum carders. We exchanged stories with our 'neighbor' with the Royal Whites from Wisconsin, and got a hearty invitation to the Wisconsin Festival. (which is tempting).

We joined with others for the Lamb Feast, (#2 of 3 meals in a row featuring lamb) which included entertainment, local wine, lamb appetizers, seconds if you dared, and topped off with home made ice cream. (Burp)

Sunday was a little slow, but gave us time to enjoy the day, including the Border Collie puppies and the trainer, complete with ducks. Then late in the afternoon, we collected our things, helped the others load up and said our goodbyes for another year.

We loaded the lambs back into the van, not quite so crowed this time, and headed west. The sight of sand bagged buildings as we came through Council Bluffs was a bit disturbing. We are grateful we chose the higher ground.

And then we were all safely home again. (and the blog erased the picture that was once here).

So all told, it was a good weekend. Sales are secondary to the experience of new friends, refreshed focus and sense of direction. It was especially good to find there are others who share our views of the land and life, and have chosen a similar path, and at a similar stage of their lives.

Thursday was the first Farmers Market for the season. We had a few things - a few Strawberries, onions, lettuce and spinach, a 3 coveted cucumbers, (which were sold the first 2 minutes) and some snap peas. And of course I felt obligated to make the first batch of cinnamon rolls. Not very many vendors showed up, nor customers for that matter, but we still had enough sales to make it worth the trip to town. Since then, the garden has been growing visibly over night, and blooms and baby eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes and more are clinging to their connection to mothering earth. There will be more for next weeks market.

And now, I must be off to the next project - the strawberries are cleaned, measured, and waiting in the bowl. The jars are sparkling clean, and sanitized. Sugar awaits. It's time to Jam.

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