General Ginger Knits

random thoughts on knitting and the universe

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Jarrell Plantation part 1

What an exciting weekend I had ya'll! Both days were filled with knitting related activities. I've got so much to say about it that I'm spreading it over a couple of posts.

Saturday I spent the morning at Jarrell Plantation. This is a state of Georgia historic site of a once working farm. Sheep to Shawl was a special event held once a year to highlight how wool is processed. Billed as a "hands on" event, I went expecting all sorts of interesting things. Well I certainly got them! I had the chance to sheer a sheep in the old way with a huge pair of sheering scissors. I didn't get the actual name of this piece of equipment but they looked just like a giant pair of scissors. Weighed a ton too.

I guess I should have figured out that the "hands on" part was meant for kids when several eight to twelve year olds thrust their hands into the air yelling "me, me!" Didn't matter though. I was determined to get my own hands on with the sheep.

sheep sheering

Apparently back in the olden days they used to lay the poor sheep on a table and tie up his legs on a pole with some rope in order to keep him from getting away. I felt a bit sorry for the creature actually. But the handler insisted that he was fine.

After the motley crew of children finished their cutting I sidled up to the sheep, whose name was Harris by the way, and took my turn. Boy was I nervous. I'd never been that close to a live sheep before, well, except maybe at a petting zoo once about a thousand years ago. Now here I was about to take a sharp instrument to one I'd only just been introduced to. I made my first cut and the handler pointed out that I could still get off more wool then I had. He showed me that I'd left at least a quarter of an inch behind. So I held those giant scissors even closer to the poor sheep's skin and sheered away not once, not twice but three more times. The handler pulled off a piece that I'd sheered and gave it to me. What an excellent memento.

I have to say that I had a blast sheering that sheep. Now a days of course we all know that sheep sheering is done with electricity and takes all of thirty seconds. Back in the old days it took a little longer and I like to imagine that the farmer knew his sheep well and would know the name of the sheep next in line to be sheered. Thanks for the souvenir, Harris.

sheep close up

By the way ya'll, freshly sheered sheep is some of the stinkiest stuff in the world!

Next time I'll go over what I learned about processing that wool.


Blogger ErLeCa said...

Wow! It looks like that was quite an exciting weekend and you only told us about one part of it! Can't wait to hear about the rest!

9:14 AM  
Blogger Knitzilla said...

Fascinating - tell us more! I grew up in Savannah, in the marshes around Rose Dhu Island. Would love to hear more about your experience at Jarrell Plantation.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Janice in GA said...

A few years ago I volunteered to help one of the spinning guild members when it was time to shear her sheep. She had hired a shearer, but she needed help with rounding up the sheep and getting them to the shearer.
It was an interesting experience. Sheep are not always the most cooperative of animals, but we got it all done.
Fresh wool can be kinda stinky, yes, but it can be a nice kind of stinky sometimes. Very distinctive.

10:51 AM  

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