Thursday, February 12, 2015

Connecting people with the land

I was at a workshop for women farmers when someone asked "How do we show people how important prairies, grasslands and farms are?" The answer was to find ways to connect people to the land.

We did that when we invited people to come help shear our sheep. For years we have had volunteers help catch sheep, trim hooves, vaccinate sheep, and shirt fleeces. They always make the day interesting and easier. We've gone through a lot of volunteers in thirty years. We've all aged, some have moved away and others have lost interest. This year, I sent out a call for volunteers on the Northcroft Farm Facebook page and also to my fiber email list. We were astounded by the response.

Twenty people embraced the idea of spending a day wrestling sheep and playing with wool. The temperature peaked at eight degrees outside, but most of us skirted fleeces without gloves. The wool was still warm and our fingers softened with lanolin as we sorted the dirty bits from the clean.

                                           photo by Kate Andrews

By 3 P.M. all the sheep had their vaccinations, their hooves trimmed, and their fleeces removed. All the fleeces had been weighed, skirted and hauled to the wool shed. The sheep had been fed and the barn bedded with fresh straw. The volunteers returned home, some with beautiful fleeces, all with red cheeks and a better appreciation of a flock of sheep and their farm.

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