the weekend

Weekends are those strange things that remain elusive to me. Frequently during the week I think things like “I’ll wait to do this on the weekend” or “this is a perfect weekend chore”. But when the weekend comes around I’m so busy that what I had thought to do over the week is no longer possible on the weekend. Such was the case this weekend.

I had been planning for the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival for 6 months. It is usually a highlight – seeing and experiencing new yards from small yarn manufacturers, dyers, spinners and even producers. It is exciting to me (yes, I know I’m weird) to meet alpaca owners who sell their fleece and natural yarn only at functions such as the WSWF. I met a gentleman on Saturday who got into the Alpaca farming 26 years ago – just as alpaca were coming into the US. At one point in time he had over 400 alpaca on his ranch. Imagine 400 alpaca? He is now 75-ish and has pared down his herd to about 120, but still, 120 is a lot of alpaca.

You can see one of his cones of sock-weight yarn poking up there in the middle of the sign.

All-in-all, this was a great trip. A very relaxing 2 hour dive there and back. A picnic with friends (=no money spent of food) and lots of walking. One thing we did do more of this year was that we spent more time in the sheep juding area. I think we watched 3 types of meat sheep being judged. Fall, winter and spring ewes and bucks and heards.

This is a picture of one of those classes being judged (the judge is standing just inside the right of the doorway – turquoise shirt and dark blue pants). For some of tha animals he judged, he actually felt them up – feeling their structure and, I guess, sturdiness. Some of them he just looked at.

These two guys, however, are wool sheep. (Yes, I realize the picture isn’t that flattering – the backside of a male sheep – but that was about the best I could do. Honestly.) These are Corriedale sheep – known for being on the softer side of the wool spectrum (i.e. their wool can be worn next to your skin). They are actually half breeds – a cross between a Marino on the dam’s side and an English Lincoln Longwool on the sire’s side. According to the American Corriedale Association, they are also excellent meat sheep. This goes against something I had learned while at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival – that sheep are either meat sheep or wool sheep – but I guess if you breed and cross-breed for specific traits then you can have the best of both worlds, that is if you enjoy eating sheep, which I don’t, so for me their duplicity in nature wouldn’t really matter.

Anyway, I was so exhausted when I got home that I went to bed at 7:30 PM (after having taken 1 Advil and 1 muscle relaxant) and slept solidly for 12 hours. Now THAT is what weekends should be like: sleeping late. Sunday was a typical Sunday – church and homework. Thus, not much else got done. So, we will try again for next weekend. I need to finish cleaning the house so that I can have house guests in October!

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