I aspire to be a crazy fiber lady, and I mean that in the best possible way. Crazy like the friend who knew that I was just getting into fibery things a few years ago and gave me 9 or 10 huge boxes of wool fleece and yarn. That was just some of her cast-offs, just 9 or 10 boxes, she said she needed to clean out her "yarn room" anyway. At the time I thought "yarn room, huh?! She's a leeetle crazy..." Now as I try to make a yarn ball winder out of our cordless drill or pull apart thrift-store sweaters to enrich my yarn stash, my husband Michael looks at me knowingly and I sense that I am making good progress to crazy-fiber-lady status.
I think what connects us crazy-fiber-ladies, both aspiring and certified card-carrying, is a passion for wool and the creativity and gutsy-ness to see just what we can do with the stuff. Wool is such an amazing, magical fiber and clever people have come up with so many ways to use it- housing, diapering (did you know that wool can absorb up to 80% of its weight with out feeling wet?), mulch, clothing, floor covering, sheesh! and that's without looking it up on Wikipedia!
I have been drawn to the fibery arts since I was a teen, and it's so satisfying that, as an adult, I can explore and experiment with all things fibery. I started at Berea College as an Agriculture major (then switched foolishly and boringly to English...), and always hogged the sheep pen when I took my son Julian to petting zoos. So it was probably a natural progression that lead to my purchase of the creatures pictured below when we moved to our small farm:
They are, from the left, Ramses, Sara, Violet, Willy, Abby, Esther and Felix taking a break from shearing. (Lars is stalking off indignantly as I just had finished shearing him.) They're Angora goats. This photo looks pretty bucolic and sweet, I wish Michael had taken a photo of me actually shearing, trimming around a nervous goat's private bits, with dirty, sticky fleece in my hair and all that. The goats really were a great introduction to fiber animals. They are smallish, smart, friendly and sturdy. In my research, sheep, bless their hearts, are usually none of those things, though I guess some breeds can be small.
I only had the goats for about a year, as I had baby Avery, and when I weighed the priorities between goats and my sweet boy, well, you know who won out. But that one year was a great learning and growing experience for me as a person and as a shepherdess. It's filled with memories that did not seem like they would be fondly recalled at the time- like when I first got the goats and the meadow wasn't tightly fenced enough and we had a team of people racing to fix/construct the fence as another team was going to pick them up. The suspense of whether we could get the fence done in time was better than any reality TV show.
Or the time Esther started having Felix in January in a snowstorm, with no barn around. (Most of time, goats don't require a barn, but Felix was early.) We built a shed out of straw bales in the dark as the snow was blowing, and Felix was born happy and healthy. Here's Esther, she seemed satisfied with the arrangement too.
Of course, I also have fond memories: racing ahead of the goats as I tried to beat them to the feed trough with their feed; discovering on a warm spring day that Sara delivered Violet right in the field amidst the wild flowers; teaching Julian to climb over a gate farm-boy style.
I do think that I will eventually get some animals again someday, but it is a really big commitment and expense, so I will plan it carefully. Until then, I sill have plenty of this: