Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southern Illinois Sheep and Craft Festival

Scott and I went to the Southern Illinois Sheep and Craft Festival this morning to check it out as a potential vending site pet lambs. It was a smaller than, but superior to, the Bethel World Sheep Festival if only because it had permanent facilities and a lack of carnivorous crickets.

There were fewer vendors than Bethel but the quality of the fleeces were higher. It is amazing we didn't come home with a fleece. Herbal Maid Fiber Farm had some spectacular mohair, border and blue faced leicester fleeces, at least to my untrained eye. She shears herself so there are no second cuts. I have to take her word for it because, again, what do I know about fleeces? There were four fleeces in particular that wanted to come home with me. One Border Leicester about 4.5 pounds, tan with a little grey mixed in, one border/bfl cross that had a tight delicate crimp and was so soft and so very lovely, one black mohair and one grey one. Each of the fleeces are skirted twice and are ready to wash. They looked remarkably clean.

We backed away slowly from the fleeces and stumbled in to a group of spinners, one of which was nice enough to show me her Spinolution Bee Travel Wheel. Can I get an OMGOMGOMGOMG from the crowd? OMG. I want this. Maybe for Christmas some nice people will get together and buy me a combined Christmas and birthday gift for the next 10 years. Or maybe if money is left over after we move, buy a new car, pay all our bills and rebuild our savings we will buy one. Ha ha (except it's not funny)! It is a beautiful wheel that treadles so easily, spins so fast, fits in such a small space and will fit my physical needs perfectly, but at $645 for a wheel and 3 bobbins it is a little pricey. Not ridiculous for a wheel that will last forever, but pricey.

So no wheel and no fiber for us, unless you count the lock of wool we snatched from a free basket of locks. We went the practical route and brought home only things we would use anyway, like groceries. We ended up with 3 different cuts of lamb, along with locally roasted coffee and locally made handmade soap. The person at the meat place was puzzled why they had sold so much meat that day. When lean hamburger is $4/lb, $2.50/lb for lamb burger just makes sense. We bought 2 hours in to the festival and got the last package of ground lamb, the last package of brats, the last 2 packages of lamb chops and the last of the jerky. We got a good deal on things we would buy anyway (meat, coffee, soap) and got the bonus of warm fuzzies from buying locally from nice people.

Picture time!

Fred the Shetland Lamb
I've got this little guys name and his owners card. I call dibs on this little guys first fleece! Wait, no. I'll never fully process a fleece. I'll get as far as washing it and lose interest. His name is Fred and he Shetland bottled lamb who will be used for fleece. He is only a week old but they think his fleece is going to be spectacular. He is white now but his roots are a smokey gray. He belongs to Persimmon Ridge Farm. They are new to the sheep thing but raise rabbits, goats and sell delicious fresh goat cheese. They sold out of the samples in a heartbeat, but after tasting the samples we put our name on the waiting list for it.

Fred the Shetland Lamb

Shetland Sheep
Shetland sheep

Border Leicester ewe
Border Leicester ewe

Love his horns!
Love this guy's horns

We watched the sheep dog demo (click to watch the video)

Here is another sheep dog video

There were clog dancers. (video)

I suddenly have an urge to learn to clog now that I know you can clog in your jeans. (also a video)

There was a lamb lunch. For $7 you could have as much lamb and bbq beans you could fit on one plate. I had a small lamb chop which I think must have been from a gnarly old grown up lamb, some shaved lamb in bbq sauce, a lamb burger with sauerkraut and the standard plate filler of chips and potato salad. Scott pretended to be grumpy when I whipped out my camera and declared his meal blog worthy.