Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Of Sheep and Shepherds

As always, the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (AKA, "OFFF") was *awesome*. I wasn't sure at first if I would get to go this year but some fellow spinners/knitters offered to let me catch a ride with them up to Canby, so I got my day among sheep and shepherds after all!

The pictures will mostly speak for themselves today, although I do have a bit of commentary for a few of them...

The main hub and happening. Vendors, buyers, and crafters in one single spot!

This Border Collie... Oh dear me. She was such a sweet heart that I plunked myself down right next to her and had a grand visit. It's been awhile since I've gotten any "dog-time" and I had forgotten just how much I missed having a canine around. She kinda' made something stir in me and made me wonder if a Border Collie would be better than an English Shepherd... Hmmm.

 Now, a few blog posts ago I put up a picture of my not-so-dainty stack of sheep books and in the comments one of you dear readers asked me what breed I was thinking about when I do someday get my own flock. I replied to the comment saying that Texels were my ideal ovine. I like those chunky sheep... Good meat and good wool in one efficient, baaing package. The problem though, was that I figured I was going to have to ship the stock in from Idaho and possibly even VA. I couldn't find any breeders here in Oregon! While meandering through the sheep barn at OFFF, what do I see? A big sign that loudly declared the farm name of 'Distracted Acres'. And what kind of sheep do they have? Take a look on the left hand side of that sign below!

TEXELS!?!? You mean to tell me that there's a farm not 30 minutes away from me that has Texel sheep??? After picking my jaw up off the floor and brushing bits of straw off of it, I scoured their little area. Alas, there weren't any Texels in the flesh right then and there, but they had brochures, business cards, and Texel wool. That was enough to satisfy me for the day. :) 

Border Leicester

Border Leicester wool

Another surprise in the barn was that someone had brought honest-to-goodness Merino sheep! It's rare to see these woolly mammoths here in the Pacific Northwest since it's so damp here (which wreaks havoc on the Merino's feet and wool). But there they were... Adorable, wrinkly faces and sublime wool standing right in front of me. Yes, I did have one moment of thinking, "Texels, or Merinos? Merinos, or Texels? Which should I choose?" But it was just one moment. ;) I've heard Merino sheep are terrible when it comes to meat. Maybe I could just get one Merino wether though... Seriously, those wrinkly faces get me every time and I just wanted to kiss that cute face on the ram! LOL. 

Merino ram

Merino sheep

The Jacob sheep were there as usual and I smiled and sighed over them. I've had a long-term crush on this breed on account of their spotted fleeces and their 4 horns. But it's just not a big enough carcass and not a heavy enough wool clip for what I need. Sigh. I could get a wether of this breed too, right? ;)

Jacob Sheep

It wouldn't be right of me to forget the goats now, would it? For some reason, angora goats just ain't my cup of tea, but I do enjoy looking at them. :) 

Okay, so below is a quick collage I slapped together and it's all the same Romney sheep. Isn't he just ADORABLE???? Look at that face! He looked like an oversized, overstuffed teddy bear that just begged to be hugged. The Merino might get the kiss, but this fella totally gets the hugs. Just looking at him makes me want a whole flock of huggable Romneys. I know, I'm so horrible when it comes to sticking to ONE breed of sheep. Can't I just have them all?

The weather was perfect that day (couldn't have been better if ye had ordered it from Eatons!), I saw old friends, talked with shepherds about their ovine trade that they ply, and almost bought a shepherd's staff to bring home. It wouldn't fit in the car though, so I had to leave it behind. Bummer. The goats sure ain't leaving, and the cows are definitely here to stay, but I think it's getting time to add sheep to this crazy mix. Sheep and a good dog... Yep, that would just about do it.

The winking wether


nancy said...

Oh I want that Romney sheep! How cute, not sure if I'd like sheep meat/mutton?

Eileen said...

Being a sheep person from the land of sheep, you could get one type of sheep and cross it with another. That way you can create the animal that meets your requirements. You can't beat the merino for the quality of the fleece, fine and beautiful. The Romney is good in wet areas. The Texal has a good carcass but needs good feed to finish. The Border Leicester is a good maternal breed. Plenty of sheep to choose from to suit every need. We really like them.