Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week Two: Shearing Day Open House at Foster Sheep Farm-Schuylerville, New York

Today really didn't get off to a very good start.  Mr. Free Albany usually does the driving when we go on trips, which means I am relegated to the position of navigator.  Unfortunately, that is not a job at which I excel.  Typically, that means our way will be slightly muddled, but today we somehow ended up adding about a half an hour to our trip.  It wasn't all that bad though; we got to see a lot of beautiful countryside, stunning views of distant mountains, and the lovely little burg called Bacon Hill, which I may otherwise never have stumbled upon.  

Upon our arrival, the farm's driveway and small lot in front of their main barn were full of the cars of other curious souls, so we parked on the side of the winding country highway.  I was eager to see the sheep and the shearing demonstration, so we made our way to the barn first.  It was full of sheep, some already shorn, others awaiting their turn.  In neighboring enclosures, there were other animals, including beautiful angora rabbits, llamas, and alpacas.

Angora Rabbit
The shearer was Gwin Hinman from New Hampshire.  She is apparently something of a celebrity in the sheep shearing world, because she has been called to shear sheep as far away as New Zealand. Watching her was amazing.  Much to my surprise, the sheep didn’t struggle as she moved the clipper over their bodies, removing their thick fleece coat.  Gwin was very fast and made it look effortless, shearing an entire sheep in a little over four minutes.  As she clipped, the fleece came off in a continuous sheetI've never seen anything like this display before.  We watched her shear four sheep today, but they had around 70 to shear that day in total.
Shearing a sheep
 Once the sheep were shorn, the fleece was sorted to be later used by spinners.  The yarn shop was also open so Mr. Free Albany and I stopped inside.  Lamb stew and lamb chili were available but since I don’t eat lamb, I didn’t try any.  However, the shop smelled delicious.  In the front room of the shop were several spinners making yarn.  The shop was full of beautiful yarn in all different colors and I really wanted a reason to buy some.  I’ve tried on many occasions to learn how to crochet and knit but have failed miserably every time.  Being at the yarn shop made me want to try again so if anyone is patient and knows how to knit, I’d love to learn!

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