Sheep shearing is done and I have eight fleeces bagged and ready for washing, spinning and whatever it is you do to transform wool into hats, scarves, slippers and more.
A reader mentioned she was a spinner and was then kind enough to respond to my questions with a wonderful email unravelling many mysteries of fibre art.
If all spinners are as encouraging and helpful as she was, I am going to enjoy meeting fellow wool lovers as much as working with the wool. Thanks Beth!
A sheep being sheared is about as startling a transformation as a person will ever witness; even watching a lamb being born pales in comparison to a sheep being freed from its elbow deep coat of wool.
Our pre-shorn sheep were magnificent — big and woolly with fringes of gorgeous crimped fibre dangling to the ground.
Our sheared sheep have small smooth bodies weirdly out of proportion to their huge heads. In short, they look ridiculous.
I realize that’s insulting to the sheep, but it’s not like they’re going to read this. And since there aren’t any mirrors in the pasture, they have no idea what they look like.
I have to confess that I have always been a bit unsettled over the fact that no one — animal or human — ever sees their own face except as a reflection. I was around five years old when I first considered this inescapable truth. I remember being completely freaked out. If I closed one eye I could see my own nose, but that was about it. It seemed like a horrible thing that I would never see my own face.
Before mirrors were invented I suppose a person could go their whole life and never even know what they looked like.
Back in our pasture, the sheep may not have been able to see themselves, but they could certainly see each other, and they were not impressed. The lambs started running about baaing for their mothers.
The ewes baaed back in irritation as if to say, “What? I’m right here. Have you forgotten what your own mother looks like?” This question was soon followed by, “Hey! Where did all my pasture mates go? Who are all these strange sheep?”
With the realization that all their buddies had shrunk came the equal awareness that they were no longer weighted down with wool. They were light and free. Just feel how easily they could move!
Hmmm. Let’s see — my pasture mates have shrunk and here I am suddenly moving around like Super Sheep. That can only mean one thing. It’s time to do some head butting!
The ensuing pandemonium caught the attention of Tuffi our ram, who had been busy sulking in a corner of his pasture over the indignity of being tossed to the ground like a common sheep and shorn of his kingly garments.
Tuffi looked over at the next pasture, noticed all the new looking ewes and let out a roar. Well, actually he baaed. But he baaed really loud. Then he galloped towards the fence, leaping into the air at frequent intervals before smashing his horns into the railings.
Spinning around, he galloped away, turned back to see if the slender new babes were still there and then repeated the whole dance from the beginning. He was like race horse crossed with a ballerina who had been trained by a Hulk Hogan.
Darcy and I helplessly watched the lambs crying, the mothers fighting and Tuffi practically turning himself inside out in an attempt to either breach the fence or get the new ewe’s attention, all to no avail. Our serene little farm had turned into total bedlam. What a crazy flock of sheep!
To be fair, humans can react to a new haircut in a similar fashion. Babies have been known to cry when Mom gets a radically new haircut. And men can do some pretty remarkable stunts when they’re trying to get the attention of a new lady who has caught their eye.
And a woman who spots a friend with a new hairdo will perform a double take and probably even trot on over for a closer look. However, it’s unlikely she’ll charge across the room; knock over the buffet table and head butt her friend into the wall.
Just one more thing to add to your list of ‘Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Sheep.’
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org