Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fiber Fair

These first three photos are Selena's fleece. She is a fawn Shetland ewe who sheared out almost five pounds (she didn't lamb this year). This is the fleece I wanted to have judged in the fleece competition. It's really lovely.

Well, it rained all night Friday. I mean all night. I had nightmares of the fairgrounds where the event was to be held floating under water or having to drive fifty miles out of my way to avoid flooded roads. The rain turned out to be steady and slow enough to not cause any further flooding, thankfully.

However it was very muddy at the event, but as far as I know no one got stuck.

I picked up my Mom (and the egg salad sandwiches she made--I love egg salad sandwiches, yes I do, oh, and I love my Mom too..;-) and we pulled out at 7:30 a.m. and made good time, with nary a flooded road in sight. Once we got there, I went to the registration table to find out where my booth was. I was dismayed to find out it was the building furthest up the hill where they also house the fiber animals people bring to the event. My dismayed reasons were twofold. At first it seemed like there was no way to get the truck close to unload--the only access being a steep, wet slippery hill. The other reason was...well.. frankly I didn't want to listen to sheep baa all day. That is not a relaxing sound for me, and I get plenty of it at home, thank you! It was my day off for crying out loud. ;-)

In the end though, I discovered a driveway at one end and was able to drive through the entire building to the booth. Twenty minutes later and I would not have had that option as people were setting up their booths and closing the space up. It was a squeeze to get out, but I just bulled on through, since I had no other option. I felt really sorry for the folks that came later and had to lug heavy tables up that slippery muddy slope. Even worse for the livestock owners that had to lead in their llamas and sheep and goats, from way too far away. (Sheep escape story later...). And except for about two or three times during the day the sheep weren't that annoying. ;-)

I still don't think I like being up in that building, and am not sure I will go back if they insist on sticking me up there, but it worked out alright in the end. I do like the roomier booths this year (they changed them from 8 x 8 to 8 x 10).

Now as to the weather. It was still misty raining and the wind was cold and out of the north. As you can see in these pictures we ended up putting up a very glamorous blue tarp to block the rain and wind. It didn't help much with the wind, and it got progressively colder and the winds stronger as the day went on. I spent much of the time huddled under a fleece (not wool!!) blanket that I threw in at the last minute.

I entered a fleece in the fleece contest, but due to the initial un-organization at the desk I didn't know to fill out a certain part of the form. I did fill it out correctly on the form I filled out, but not the tag. Anyhoo, later in the day, they evidently called for me on the loudspeaker to have me come and give the information, but the speakers aren't hooked up in the upper barn! So I only found out much later from a friend that they had called my name and by then it was too late. I was a little disappointed as I was eager to have this fleece evaluated, plus was out the entry fee.

So, you might think the whole day was kind of a bummer, by all the gripes, but it wasn't. I enjoyed myself, and the people for the most part are very friendly and talkative. My Mom stayed til about 1 p.m. when my Dad came and got her. My sister also came over and stayed a couple of hours. After everyone left, I had some friends I hadn't seen for awhile stop by. The lady in the booth next to me was kind enough to watch over my booth when I needed to make a 'pit stop'.

I really didn't know what to expect with the economy being in the news all the time and the flu and this and that. I hope I'd make my fees back and a little extra to make it worth my time.

It turned out to be the best sales I've ever had at this event! The crowds were huge despite (or in spite of?) all the bad news and the weather. And they came to buy. They would quietly scope out the booths and later I would see someone trudging up over the hill, straight for my booth with determination on their faces. They had made up their minds and were there to get what had earlier caught their eye. Another interesting thing was that everyone that bought from me paid in cash this year. Everyone. The lady next to me had some gorgeous knitted/felted handbags and tote backs, and hats and she did booming sales too.

There were less questions on the sheep, but I did pass out quite a few sales flyers and business cards, so it's hard to say if I'll have any follow up on those. Last year I had question after question on the sheep and never got nary a follow up on them. So who knows.

All told I sold 21 pounds of raw fleece (which is 5 & half fleeces--I split one large merino cross fleece), 39 ounces of roving, and a wet felted silk/wool scarf (not sure that counts though since my Mom bought it even though I told her she could have it!). I was especially pleased to move out that many fleeces. I was able to cram everything that was left into the front of the truck on the way back, except for the tables. I made my entry fee back many times over! Well worth the time and energy.

As for the escaped sheep? I was standing there minding my own business when everyone started pointing up the hill and then some lady started screaming--"someone needs to run around there and head that sheep off from the road". Well, all I had to see was the loose sheep and hear the word 'road' and I took off running around the side of the building. It was only later I thought--hmm...why didn't the screaming lady do this?? The sheep was a Jacob and it reluctantly turned back and fortunately heard it's buddy in the barn and headed right in there. I ran around and blocked the other end of the barn and by that time had some back up on my end. The sheep was cornered in some one's booth amongst the skeins of yarn and ropes of roving. I unwired the corner of the pen and the young fellow stuffed the sheep safely in with it's companion.

My other exciting moment was helping the irate booth owner next to me, tumble a grandstand box to the to the other side of the arena. The powers that be had set up their booth right behind this big plywood box thing, where you wouldn't have been able to see or even get to their booth. The sand in the arena worked against us, but several of us overpowered it and in the end justice was served.

Exciting times. Now I need to take inventory and sink some of the profits back into getting fleeces processed while several of the mills are offering Spring sales.

Hope your weekend was great!


Vicki Lane said...

So glad your fleeces sold well and you had fun in spite of (despite) all the downers!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Bully for you! So glad to hear of your financial success! Will pray for some follow-up sheep sales as well. :-)

Star said...

You had a successful day. Well done. I love hearing about your life with the sheep and the other animals on your farm. Thank you for sharing.
Blessings, Star

RiverBend Farm said...

Wow, your day sounds exciting. So sorry you didn't get your fleece evaluated. I don't know much about sheep but it sounds interesting.

JK said...

Sounds like you had quite the day.
Congrats on the sales!
Wish I could have been there.
Remember the carder is here if you want to tinker with carding your own.

~Tonia said...

It was cold Saturday! Glad you did well at the show!!

Allena said...

I'm glad you had such great sales, I hated to miss it.

PatriciaD said...

I bought one of your fleeces at the fiber fair. I washed up about 1 1/2 lbs so far and spun some sample yarn - it's great, a beautiful silver/grey color, springy texture and soft! Great blog, too :)

Tammy said...

Thanks everybody. It really was a good day once I got over my little tantrum. ;-) I like it to be cool, because it seems more fitting, but that was a little too cool! Sorry you couldn't make it Jama, I kept an eye out for you. Thanks for stopping by Patricia and for buying a fleece! I'm so happy to hear you are pleased with it. Do you know the name of the sheep it came from?