Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MFF, good times

This post won't have any pics. Just a few stories or tidbits of my weekend.

I left Wednesday morning at 4am with little White Pine Rye in the trailer, with 9 other sheep that found a new home! I met Sue at 8am in the same Target parking lot I always meet Mary Ellen in! After a quick exchange and a washing of the hands, I was back on the road. Stopped at Cynthia's house to pick up a ewe for Stephen named Alafair and then continued on. Little did I know that there would be triple the price of a normal 'toll' with a trailer in tow. One way was almost 30 dollars instead of the 8 or 9 dollars it would normally be.

I got in to stephen's just after 10pm Eastern Time (9pm my time) and we left the girls in the trailer over night after feeding and watering was done. We sat up and talked a lot before I had to crash. driving wears a person out!

The next morning we got up early and headed up to Brenda and Marks' farm to see the BFLs, and take my girls back to stephen's, along with some hay and straw for the show. They had a full trailer as it was! What started out as a short trip, was over four hours long! My head hurt afterwards having learned so much in such a small amount of time. We were able to look at tons of photos from their trips to the UK, were able to see all the yearling rams, their mature ram Titanium (who is amazing by the way) and their lambs, both show and stock. All amazing, all nearly cookie cutters of one another. Then out to the ewe pasture. I immediately found Blackwater Dee who last year had me falling in love with her.......and then we found the mother's of the ewe lambs I purchased. Thanks again for the great fountain of information and education!!

Stephen and I were off again to his house and I couldn't wait to see his sheep. He has amazing conformation and the structure of the fleece is very crimpy with little britch wool. He has come a long way in a few short years! You should be very proud!

I was overwhelmed again and my head hurt from all the new sheep that I had seen that day. Juliann arrived shortly after and we all agreed to go out for a few drinks and some great food at an English Pub in Plainville. After a ton of hearty laughs and good times we headed back to get a good nights rest before an early morning the next day.

Bright and early we headed to the fairgrounds to unload our sheep, get the pens ready and say hello to everyone who was getting there! Chris and Alan Greene were already penned in, as were Steve and Carol Densmore. Shortly thereafter the Ludlam crew, Gail Former, Carol Bator and the Lelli's all arrived. Soon it was mass chaos with people getting their pens ready, sheep unloaded, cleaned and the bonds of friendship renewed as everyone caught up with each other.

Friday night a large group went out again to a restaurant called Sam's Place and after we pigged out on good food and drinks, we headed next door to a neat bar called 747, where we all had amazing desert! Some of Stephen's spinning friends came along and MAN are they a HOOT! I wish they all lived closer to me ...I'd be out with them every night! :)

Saturday AM we were up again early and prepping the sheep for the show, pulling VM out and cleaning heads and legs. I was not surprised to see that the judge (same as last year) hadn't learned anything and was still placing, larger, longer fleeced (primitive) and coarse sheep in the first spots, instead of the FINE wooled shetlands of more moderate size. The ram lamb class was a surprise as she placed two smaller sized rams (smaller is relative to the size of some of the other lambs) with nice crimp and luster. After that it was all downhill and she even mentioned that although they were coarse, were of the proper fleece length. Sheesh. To each is own, right?

Of interesting note, both the Champion Shetland Ewe and Champion Shetland Ram were LARGER by at least 1/4 again as big as the CH Icelandic ewe and ram. Amazing considering Icelandic are supposed to be much larger. I couldn't believe it, I have truly seen everything. I'm not saying that you shouldn't or can't raise bigger sheep but when they are bigger than the Icelandics, isn't that saying something?

Saturday afternoon I finally picked out my picks for sheep at Stephen's and we loaded them up and got ready to go to the Ludlam's farm for the hog roast. Heather and Mike are two of the nicest people I've ever met! So inviting, considerate and fun to hang out with! Mike makes his own beer and it was truly wonderful! The pig was great and I even got to go out and see their sheep in the pasture. They have an amazing set up for the sheep and their pastures were amazingly green and healthy. To only have a fraction of that green right now here in the dust bowl! It was nice to chat more with Theresa Gygi about fleeces, sizes, production and such, as well as see Gail Former and Maureen Koch, Tim and Jen, Carol, Laura Matthews, Elizabeth (one of stephen's beer drinkin' spinning friends) and Char, the friend of Stephen's who breeds Cormos. Heck she even bought a BFL fleece of one of my lambs I had just purchased......for next spring...amazing huh?

Sunday morning I got up extra early and got to the fairgrounds to load up my sheep. Most everyone else was sleeping or not at the show yet and i quietly loaded my guys and headed out. Stopped at Cynthia's again to pick up my girls and I was home and unloaded by midnight sunday.

Of an interesting point or two:

One of the spinner's in Stephen's group claimed " Its not bad for Shetland"

A fiber mill gal asked what breeds I raised and i said "Shetlands and BFLs" her lip curled when I said Shetlands and immediately went into hysterics when I told her BFLs. Is there something wrong here? Shetlands are to be the softest and finest of the British breeds, not the BFL whose main purpose is to be a terminal sire, not a fleece animal! The BFLs I have, have microned lower than I bet 90% of all North American Shetlands. That is truly sad. Let's correct that everyone! I want people to WANT to spin shetland, not be forced!

On a stupid note: I stopped in Rochelle, IL at a Wendy's to get some food. The pop machines did not have mello yellow or Vault, but they had other coke products like diet coke, coke, etc. I asked her if they had mello yellow or vault and the girl behind the counter who looked to be my age (28 for those wondering) looked at me in disgust and disbelief and said' UM NO! We only have coke products here!"

I had to stop and shake my head. I was too tired to fight it. Honey that's why you are working at Wendys............


Juliann said...

Hey Bud,

Thanks for saying what I didn't have the guts to, regarding the show. As an show exhibitor, it probably would have sounded wrong to say.
Shetlands now larger than Icelandics. Now "I" have seen it all. :(
But on a good note, let's keep carrying the fire for the soft and moderately sized shetlands. If some people don't conserve them, they'll be gone.

North Star Shetlands said...

Luckily, I have some spinners up in this neck of the woods who truly know the gem that is the Shetland. I had one lady grab one of my babies at the fair and oohed and ahhed over her, and said "I want her fleece and I want to see more!" Truly sad that they were placing larger Shetlands...and larger than Icelandics is REALLY sad. I have actually had some people tell me that Icelandics are *supposed* to be smaller...I"m like...Ahhh no. Oh well. We must edjumacate! :D

Available sheep

With my work load continuing to pile up, and less time to spend with the sheep, I am offering the following: My entire flock of BlueFaced ...