A Vote For Ewe

After two weeks of political conventions revealing the stark divisions in our national politics to be just short of staggering, it was time to turn the television off and get outside for most of the glorious weekend. Cool breezes returned for a few days, and we met with members of our family at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, held near our home.

Staged at the County Fairgrounds, the festival fills barn after barn with crafts, wool, natural dyes, machines for carding and spinning, cutting, and knitting, crocheting, or creating woolen “rag rugs.” There are felting goods and materials, demonstrations and lessons in every step of every craft one can imagine that could be related to sheep and wool, cheeses, soaps, and, of course, many breeds of sheep. (I still haven’t figured out why one booth was selling raw honey, but it looked delicious!)

Experts and artisans manned hundreds of booths, and those who are passionate about the ancient practices and crafts of carding, spinning, and naturally dyeing wool, as well as the husbandry of raising and shearing sheep (and other fur-bearing animals whose hair can be converted to clothing and goods), roamed the barns utterly content, it seemed, to be with their community.

Although I enjoy the visual stimulus, crafts, and learning offered indoors, my favorite event is the stock dog trials held in an outdoor field. Here, the shepherd and his/her herding dog (Border Collies in the local trials I’ve attended) work together to gather and herd a group of sheep through a competitive course involving great distances, gates, and then into a pen, among other tasks.

The shepherd remains at the starting point, near the pen, and through common herd commands (Come by; away to me; lie down; that’ll do, etc.) and unique whistles, sends the dog in a wide arc along the field’s perimeter and back in to where the waiting sheep have been placed. The dog listens for the shepherd’s commands and guides the sheep back down the field, through the gates, (in a specific order) and etc. the rules and courses become more complicated according to the division competing. (If you’ve ever seen the movie, Babe, you might be familiar with sheepdog/stock dog trials.)

It’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s wonderful to witness the herding dogs’ speed, intelligence, and desire to please their shepherds. After a course is completed, there’s always a big pool for the dogs to jump in to cool down and rehydrate.

It was a wonderful day among a community of people who love sheep and herding dogs, and the entire world of activities and beauty these passions create. It was vastly healing and hopeful for my spirit: not once did I hear a reference to politics, the coming election, or anyone’s voting preference. We were there to honor and celebrate far more authentic connections, ancient rhythms, and joyful reasons to congregate. And it was good.

Ewe should have been there.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “A Vote For Ewe

  1. Strange…My comment just disappeared? I had said what a wonderful day it looked like you had and how nature always provides us with such pleasures, pure, and innocent and true and never deceives us. It always delivers as promised, both bad and good. My TV is never on anymore and I have no intentions of voting nor will many people I know. We are done playing this false idiotic two party game of elections when in fact they put into office whom they choose anyway! It is time for a new system and only then will I vote. Love the baby at the end!!! So precious 🙂 Have a great week K….Blessings…VK

  2. I love all things craft, but I love animals also, so always pity the sheep as they are merely considered to be food, or breeders of lambs, which are slaughtered before they are a few months old. We have lots of sheep around here, and several at the rescue, I’m always amazed at how cheeky and inquisitive they are.
    We have a border collie, a rescue dog, she herds everything she possibly can, it deffo in the genes, and amazing to watch.x

    • I got the impression that the sheep were valued as pets and for their wool at this gathering…I’ve never even considered eating lamb, so can sympathize with you on that one, Snowbird.

      Our border collies (and half-black labs) herd us everywhere, especially towards the dog park or into the kitchen for popcorn and treats!

      Thank you so much for visiting and sharing. Peace to your week.

      • Good to hear they are valued as pets! And they are glad to shed their wool so good it’s being put to good use. Love all the dyed wool btw….
        Oh….you have border collies too? may be coming to you for advice, mine is a youngster, and the first border collie I’ve had, gosh….how many dogs do you have?xxx

  3. I’m sorry; I wasn’t clear. Our 2 dogs are half black lab/half border collie. (Bother and sister litter mates.) They are the smartest dogs I’ve ever known. They’re 11 and still running, jumping, enjoying themselves. We were told they’d “simmer down” by the time they were 3. Wrong.

    Very bright; like “jobs” (the herding instinct and need to please is bred into them); love to run and go for long walks. Love to be trained…we adore them. They’ve always lived with cats and get along fine. I’m soooo happy we live near the bike trail so they can have long walks twice a day.

  4. It could be that the raw honey was meant for Jewish customers. It is only a week and a half from our New Year, which we usually usher in with honey on the table, in the place of salt. Here, there is honey in every shopping center now, and it is very popular. Beautiful pictures, Catherine… and getting out like that is so much better than watching TV; especially since you need no convincing…

  5. Thank you, Shimon; I always appreciate your visits and comments so much. Raw honey is available here from the end of spring through autumn, as we have so many bee keepers in our area; but, as you say, its presence at the festival celebrating sheep and wool may well have been for our Jewish friends, as an aid in helping them prepare for Rosh Hashanah. I’m happy you reminded me of rituals and traditions so important to members of our community!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s