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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Wovember - Day One - What Wool Means To Me

Today starts my favorite month, Wovember, aka Wool for November.  Daughter of a Shepherd is hosting this year’s month long Instagram photo challenge and the prompt for day one is “What wool means to me.”  One picture to represent what wool means to me… I can’t figure out what to do for that.   
Wool means sheep.  I have young sheep, old sheep, white sheep, colored sheep, favorite sheep, sheep I’ve thought of strangling on occasion, sheep I’m having trouble living without.  I have certain sheep I can identify just by burying my nose in their wool (That's a good thing! :-).
Wool means work.  I’ve spent much of the last week washing and picking the last of this year’s fleeces and then taking them to the mill to be processed.  My feet and back have not forgotten.  I’ve got a market day coming up and holiday orders are coming in. Thankfully the mowing season is over..
Wool means care.  You can’t raise good wool without good care.  Care of the sheep themselves of course, but also the land and facilities they utilize.  I think you also have to care about the care you are giving.  It’s hard to trek out to the barn for a night check in the pouring rain.  It helps to care about why you are doing that.
Wool means friendship.  I have shepherd friends and spinner friends (who helped wash and pick fleeces with me this week!), beloved sheep shearers, good vets (who I probably know too well), wool festival partners, yarn shop owners, feed producers, post office clerks…
Wool means learning.  I’ve been washing fleeces for 15 years and learned a new trick last week.  I picked up a new weaving tip yesterday. I’ve had sheep for 26 years and I learned something new at the beginning shepherd workshop I attended last month.  I took a sheep to town a couple days ago and learned something interesting about flock behavior.
Wool means pride.  When I wear a sweater I’ve spun and knit from a sheep I’ve raised from lamb, I’m proud of the work I’ve done and, of course, the sheep itself.  “This is Maisie.  This is B. Willard…”  I get the same joy from seeing other people’s dedicated work.
Wool, let’s be honest, means how I’ll pay for my winter hay each year.  How I pay our vets and sheep shearer.  How I pay the feed mill. How we keep the cozy fire burning in the Wool House and on a good year, contribute to a month or two of the farm mortgage.
Wool is my life.  Wool is laughter and tears, sore muscles and aching backs.  Wool is snuggly lamb naps in the kitchen and sitting with the adult flock under a shady tree. Wool is standing on the hillside with the guardian dog while coyotes call out back. Wool is sweat in the summer and warm sweaters in the winter. Wool is sheep.
Since I can’t figure out what photo would best illustrate the prompt, here’s a picture of a freshly washed fleece currently drying in the Wool House.  This is Petunia.  She’s very soft and fine and still a lovely moorit color even at her age.  While she would not be a first choice for me to spin (I like coarser wools), she’s a very favorite sheep and I’ll enjoy spinning some of this for a lacy shawl, having some processed for someone else to spin and probably make a wool wreath or two…to help keep the lights on.

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