Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sheep-Shearing at Shaker Village

I had been wondering, given that they only have two sheep, how it would go and whether anyone would come.

Given the breezy weather in the 50's (sweatshirts! no hats, no mittens!) and the human desire to get out of the house and go somewhere pretty,Sarah lucked out. She deserved good luck because she had made careful preparation: she had lined up a bunch of volunteers, and she had rented sheep. Actually, some 3 or 4 Tunis sheep, including a ewe with twin lambs, came with the shearers. They were a woman who knew a lot and and man who did the shearing. Althoung with the sheep, they brought (and used, powered by bystanders) a really fine mechanical set of shears with a hand-cranked power-source, from sometime early the last century, perhaps?

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Note the weird and very successful iron jointed arm attaching the shearer to the grinder. The crank part made a fine noise, more threatening than a sewing machine but not too different.

After I watched the sheep-rassling, I went inside. There were enough people wanting know what the carder was and how the spinning wheels worked that I barely had a chance to demonstrate the spindle, and I didn't notice that 10 am to 2 pm neatly overlooked lunch. Apparently they had over 200 people come through. I think Doug and I did some fine enabling, particularly of a young man of maybe 10, who really got into color-blending on the carder while we taught his mom and dad to spindle spin. He said, "I have a loom at home I haven't done much with lately. Now I want to go home and use it." He planned to get his mother to spin for him, which we said was fine but he could also learn to spin himself. His father said to his mother, "There's a loom in our house?" We suggested they should go to NH Sheep and Wool. She said she thought she would prefer getting herself a spindle in Peru. A family I liked.

Then Doug and I went home and had tea with my parents, who had arrived in spite of warnings about the condition of the house and were found chiseling detritus off the stove and washing the sink. Not the dishes in the sink, which were now in the dishwasher, but the sink. These people are welcome any time. It was after 3 by then but still warm enough to sit on the porch in the sun without special protective clothing.

They refused to stay for dinner so Doug and I were forced by our exhaustion to go have a tasty supper in the village.

1 comment:

Cassie said...

The old shearing equipment is very cool. And I love the story about the ten year old getting his mom to spin so he could weave - smart kid, it woul have been fun to meet that family.