Yesterday, in between two gloriously warm fall days of sunshine, we hosted a hardy group of 3rd grade Waldorf students for a fiber farm day in the cold, dark rain! Ah! But there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear, right? And bad attitudes? (Truly, this was the very first lesson my otherwise gentle husband quite assertively insisted I quickly learn when we met. I did. And now I agree.) Thankfully, we had none of that, and instead a well-prepared, and quite hardy group of kids, attentive and eager to learn about sheep.
Our shearer was here for the day (Jeff Burschstead of Buckwheat Blossom Farm), giving the girls their fall haircuts. (We're heading into holiday party season, you know. Time to style up!) How lucky we all are when Jeff shows up, and does his graceful dance with the ewes as he shears them in no time at all, and we always learn something new along the way (this time, I saw the hand shears in use for the first time from start to finish on a sheep! Wow!). What a treat to watch him go about his work, while infusing us all with a lot of respect for sheep and what role they play in farm life, and in history.
And then, in my kitchen, I attempted to share what I know about the steps from sheep to sweater. The class left with a fleece that they'll take back to the classroom to clean, card, and then spin with drop spindles they'll make later in the year. I may be a little biased of course, but oh what a wonderful process to be a part of at the tender and important ages of 8 and 9! And oh, how glad I was for (and proud I am of) my young helpers, Harper and Adelaide, so graciously sharing their sheep and their own knowledge.
As for us, I'm grateful to check "fall shearing" off the farm to-do list before a busy November really begins (the garlic still needs to get planted though!). I'll send this fiber off to the mill in the coming weeks, and come springtime, it'll come back as more roving and yarn ready for playing with, just in time for a new batch of dye plants and knitting patterns to explore. And we'll shear again in the spring and the whole thing will start over again. And each time, I get to be reminded of just how lucky we are to be a part of this cycle - whether eight years old or forty.