Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool - Part 1

First of all, I apologize for not blogging for over two weeks. We have been busy. School started again the day after Labor Day. I can't believe that Nicholas is in Junior High already. It seems just yesterday that he was learning the ropes in elementary school. Now he has to remember his lock combination, must go from room to room for his different classes - has to keep track of his homework, without so much help from the teachers! I am kind of glad he decided NOT to go out for Junior High Football - especially since the first game was held the day that we were experiencing the all day rain that was the remnants of Gustav here.

Of course, the start of the school year also means Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival for us. Always the weekend after Labor Day. We again took three breeds of sheep to exhibit - Polypay, Coopworth and Shetland. This year we added a table display to the sheep display. In addition to the general breed information, we took a Shetland pelt, some yarn and roving samples in a basket, farm brochures, breed organization brochures and newsletters - the "Sheep X-ing" sign was purchased from one of the vendors after we set up the display to balance it out!

The three sheep pens looked very similar to last year. Same three breeds, same sign. Different sheep. This year we didn't have any available for sale, so we took all six home with us. In fact, we took seven home, as we added a Shetland ram that we purchased from Psalm 23 Farm in Kiel, WI. I don't have a picture of him - right now he is in the tall weeds with some of our ram lambs - if I can see him over the greenery, I'll try to get a picture of him at a later date!

Here are our two Shetland girls that were at the festival. The picture is a bit washed out by the sun, but the sheep in front is the famous Sparx. Behind her, with her head in the feeder, is one of our lambs from this year - what some of the Shetland breeders would call an HST - her Head, Socks and Tail are white, while the rest of her is black. Hard to see on this pic - I apologize - my photo skills are lacking!

The two Coopworths we exhibited. I guess I should take pictures after they are done eating, so you would get to see more than just their rear ends! One colored and one white.

And now a couple of pictures of other people's sheep. This is the famous Chuck - a Dorper owned by Trophy Acres (Troy and Phyllis Antoniewicz). Troy organizes the Hall of Breeds and he and his wife, Phyllis are fun, friendly people. We enjoy seeing them each year at the festival. The Dorper is a hair sheep, so for those shepherds who don't want the hassle of shearing, they go with one of the hair breeds. The Dorper does get a coat of hair for the cold months and then sheds in the spring. This is Chuck's second year at the festival and he is very friendly and personable. Very stocky and nice looking, but wouldn't do me much good, since part of the reason we have sheep is for the wool.

This is one of the Lincoln Longwools that was across from our girls. I'm not sure who the owner is, but I just think the Lincolns are pretty.

And finally, a shot of me standing in front of the Fairgrounds map. Larry thought I should put a picture of me on the blog. Also good advertising for Briggs and Stratton, I guess!

Again, an absolutely wonderful weekend - the weather was fabulous - the rain held off, the temperatures were great - not hot, like some years. As you can see in the pic above, I had a long-sleeved shirt on, which in my opinion, is perfect weather - high 60's, low 70's! We talked to a lot of people, made some new contacts for wool sales, talked with friends we only see at sheep events. We take the sheep over on Friday afternoon and load them back up late Sunday afternoon. But we are spoiled - the fairgrounds is only about 10 minutes from here, so by 5:30 Sunday evening, we were all unpacked and the sheep were happily grazing back at home. I will try to get a few more pictures posted tomorrow - some fibery stuff for those of you who are more interested in that end of the festival. But all in all, a fantastic weekend - can't wait until next year!!