Full heart and achy, breaky back: the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival

Well, it’s over. I’m home. Today I feel great. Yesterday I was aching all over. Didn’t do a thing but rest and groan.

I left here Friday morning at 8 a.m. with a truck full of sheep and the cab stuffed full of wool, John following in the Matrix stuffed to the gills with tables, knitted goods, cooler, mattress, clothes, you name it: everything I’d need to camp out for two nights, feed myself and others for three days, take care of the six sheep, and set up for the sales booth, most of the products of which would follow a couple of hours later with Sue and Tom from HodgePodge Yarns and Fibers, Sue being my partner in crime!

John and I measured, set up, and labelled sheep and goat pens and sales booth spaces and were finished by noon, when people started to arrive. He helped unload our vehicles, then went home with the truck. I helped people unload all afternoon and admired the great variety of sheep and goats. We had lots this year, though there’s still room for more…each year, I make the goal a little higher. Here are my girls, complaining because I’m not giving them grain, nor paying attention to them.

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By the end of the show, Anneke (first on left) was demoted to pet or meat, because of her loose lateral horns; Caroline had friendlied up (next in line) to the point that I decided to keep her, Pollywog (previously sold) was picked up and two ram lambs also sold (yes! Thank you, Brandon!), and Sue decided she wanted Miryam, whose head is kind of missing from the photo.

We had a few new breeds this year, ones I’d not ever seen at the show. Alex Garven brought some lovely merinos, and sold two, I believe:

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And Maria Germano brought some Tennessee Fainting goats, used primarily for meat, she said. They were a big hit.

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And then there were the Wensleydales. Virginia S. (Papers still in the car, and it’s raining! of Yellow Farm in N.Y. (who came with her friend, CeCe and CeCe’s two brawny jacob ram lambs, born in January and twice the size of mine!) explained that there are no 100% Wensleydales in this country, but they have taken various approved ewes, and bred them with Wensleydale semen (Artificial insemination), and have bred up this way, so that now there are some 87% and some in the low 90′s %ages, I think she said. They were remarkable, with their long lustrous locks.

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We had great crowds, but my favorite times were after the people left, chatting with the shepherds, and then, when the shepherds left, just Elaine Clark and I, changing water for the sheep and goats, feeding out hay, and then settling down for a good chat ourselves about our grandkids, life in general, sheep, chickens, sheep, other shepherds, sheep, yarn, spinning, sheep, …you get the point?! Here’s Marian White (on right) who now runs the Tunbridge Wool Works (or is it Woolworks?) where she carefully washes and cards fleece (and having navajo churros herself is familiar with long stapled fleeces, always a plus!) and has a felting machine, with which she makes beautiful felted rugs. (Or you can rent time on the machine and she’ll show you how to do it yourself…) talking with Cheryl White, who has beautiful icelandics, including Harry, a two year old grey, polled ram who is spectacular, I think. I kept trying to come up with a reason to buy him…but reason won out. What would I do with an icelandic ram anyway? Spending that much money just to have him out there looking beautiful didn’t seem at all reasonable. See, sometimes, I CAN be reasonable. This photo was snapped after everyone left for the day on Saturday…or was it Saturday morning before people arrived. The whole weekend is a big blur at this point.

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Hmm…I never did get around to the other buildings and take photos of the camelids, or all the sales booths…and they had such lovely things for sale, too.

I love the Vermont show. It’s not nearly as big as the N.H. show on Mother’s Day weekend, nor as close to N.Y. and Boston as the Massachusetts show in Cummington on Memorial Day weekend, but there is a cameraderie there and a sense of community that I don’t find as strong at the other big shows. Maybe it’s just me. There were crowds, but not so many people that there’s pushing and shoving and waiting on line and intense noise all the time. It’s a place where at lunchtime, I bring stew around to the other vendors in the animal barn, and they bring donuts and cakes and fruit to donate to our community food table. It’s a show where we celebrate the joys of our lives and commisserate with each other over the sadnesses. Maybe it’s not like that in the other buildings, I don’t know…I seldom get much time or have much energy left to go “shopping” though I do notice what stuff looks like as I run through to pick up this or that or get more gates or report some problem..and as usual, everything there looks high quality, the vendors all seem happy and smiling (and this year, with Saturday at 90 degrees and humid, and Sunday 60 and raining, there was reason to be a little off!), customers seem happy and relaxed, the dog demos and llama obstacle course draw their crowds, as do the shearing, spinning, and other demos, the classes are full…it’s a wonderful event, all around. I’m proud to be part of it. But, I’m oh, so glad to be back home, sleeping in my own bed, instead of on a crib mattress in the back of my Matrix, and not be aching any more. I’ll be rested up and ready to go on Thursday morning when I load up the sheep and head off to the Tunbridge World’s Fair to demo spinning and talk about my remarkable sheep there on Thursday and Sunday…(and who knows, maybe I’ll be having so much fun, I’ll want to go up on Friday and Saturday, as well.) Hope to see you next year at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, or the Tunbridge World’s Fair, a trip and a half!

By the way, it’s still raining, and the grass is turning bright green and growing before my eyes, which is good since we were almost out of pasture. While at the Festival, I started a new sweater, but there’s nothing to show but some brown heather stockingette stitches at this point, so I’ll skip it. More later.

2 Responses to “Full heart and achy, breaky back: the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival”

  1. scully Says:

    Cool. Marian is a neighbor of mine and I had breakfast with her this morning. Well, more accurately I served her breakfast this morning at the Tunbridge Village Store. Her company is Tunbridge Woolworks. My wife is supposed to be knitting for her at the Fair on Saturday.

  2. PHYLLIS ROCKWELL Says:

    An update on Tunbridge Woolworks: Marian has moved on to the ‘greener pastures’ of Peace Corps, to the northeast of Australia (about 1000 miles) and has sold the business to me. I look forward to helping you with your wool processing needs, and am only 1.5 hours away from Tunbridge in Hebron, NH.
    I’ll be at the Vermont Festival and hope to get acquainted with many of you. I won’t have a booth this year, but will at the NH Festival, and next year in Vermont. See you soon! Phyllis Rockwell – Newfound Farm Wool Works

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