Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sheep and Wool Festival: Adel, IA

The rain clouds parted for a few hours last weekend so the Adel Sheep and Wool Festival could proceed amid raindrops in steamy sunshine. The festival is a unlikely mix of livestock and fiber people. The common denominator, of course, is sheep.

You can distinguish the sheep/goat/alpaca raisers by their outfits: muck boots and jeans. The fiber fans are decidedly more colorful, some wearing hand-loomed garments.

As always, the dog trials were a hoot to watch. The "field" was a puddle-filled, mud-fest with a Border Collie expertly moving three sodden Dorset ewes around in a figure-8, a gate run, then into a corral. The test of wills between dog and ewes is filled with tension and comedy. The ewes create a united front of wet wool and angry attitudes, stomping a front leg in indignation. The dog takes a step closer and the sheep run like ninnies. So much for the show of toughness.

Some dogs exhibit amazing control, dropping on command, and lunging fast in large outruns at a "Way to Me" command. Others are tongue-hanging, crazy-eyed, trigger-happy zealots that shoot the sheep all over the field like pool balls on a billiard table.

I bought a really cool, hand-loomed scarf from an alpaca raiser from Maxwell, IA (C&M Acres). The scarf is made from the fiber from Black Label Johnnie and Alydar (a black- and a white-fleeced alpaca, respectively). Both are pictured on the scarf label. What a cool way to market fiber products--by the alpaca the fiber was shorn from.

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