Birthday Weekend #1

Why this birthday was awesome:

  • Time with mom
  • YARN!
  • Sheep
  • Dogs
  • Ice cream

If you know me at all, you I love to celebrate my birthday and most years it turns into a month long hooha. Kicking it off this weekend, my mom took me to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson as an early birthday present. I took the train up Harvard and her house in South Beloit on Friday afternoon. Thinking that there would be two 2 hour train rides and a couple of long car rides I packed three knitting projects for the duration of my two day trip. I promptly zonked out on the train ride up there. After a nice two hour nap there was Dairy Haus, which to my delight was open and had my favorite flavor of anise flavored Blue Moon in the case, and some knitting, and wine and dinner and Downton Abbey watching. Then bed, because we were going to be up at the butt-crack of dawn to head up to the festival.

The butt-crack of dawn came and there was coffee to make it less cracky and a quick car jaunt through the back highways of the cheese state to the festival grounds. It was a chilly morning, a first true taste of fall with the wind whipping my hair and biting my cheeks. We sat and watched the Crook & Whistle dog trials.

There are different levels for novice and advanced dogs, the differences being in how long the drive was and the tasks performed. Watching the Shepard and dog work together was amazing, driving home just how integral the relationship between dog and human can be. The dedication on the animal's face as it trotted next to it's human knowing it had a job and that it was respected made me miss my Stella. Unfortunately, no pets on the fair grounds (and for good reason), so she had to be left out. However, grandma did buy her a treat, a deer antler, for her birthday; which is in September as well.

When we couldn't take it anymore we wandered into the hall of breeds where we saw all different sorts of sheep penned up next to each other. You really get to appreciate the diversity of breeds this way. Seeing the tiny Shetland next to the extremely long-wooled and shaggy Icelandic, next to the big, fat Romney and my personal favorite the Leicester (blue faced or not).

We shopped the hall of vendors. My mom treated me to some birthday yarn; a skein of beautiful DK in natural brown/grey, a mixture of BFL and English. So soft I can't stop squishing it. And some birthday buttons made from cut and polished black walnuts. I also treated myself to a sweater quantity of Suri-Shetland blend from Rach-Al-Paca in Minnesota. Can't resist when a skein is only $8! There was also a  giant ceramic dinosaur button purchased, some Somerset cheese and a skein of Angora Bunny & Cormo from Bleating Heart Haven. Too soft and pretty to resist.

My mom was fascinated by the shearing demonstration and I have to admit I was too.

The shearer was captivating. I could just imagine sitting down for a beer and some cheese curds to listen to his life story. At 58, he's been shearing for 35 years and learned in New Zealand. Hence the wool pants and old school shearing mocs. Kinda makes me want to go to shearing school and not just 'cause I might get to go to New Zealand. He did make tossing about a 140 lb sheep look easy.

After a lunch of lamb brat and root beer float we watched more Crook and Whistle trails until it was time to leave to catch the train. Which I barely made since mom's GPS was down and the navigator (me) was lulled into a nap and we almost ended up in Lake Geneva instead of Harvard. With minutes to spare I boarded the train home laden with yarn and happy smile.


Annie Helmericks-Louder said...


stefanie said...

Yay! SHEEP!!

Theresa said...

You inspired me to look up the Australian Sheep Shearing competition, which I just missed (was in July). Next year...