Saturday, January 15, 2011

natural fiber and a romney ram

I'm not sure exactly when it happened but recently I started to think a lot about what I was wearing to keep warm.  I have wool coats, and one old woolrich sweater that I've worn out, but mostly I have fleece, polypro, nylon, and polyester sweaters or sweatshirts.  They look good and are warm and soft, but they're synthetic, what I was wearing was basically a petroleum product, right?

I had never really thought that much about it, and the more I've thought about where natural fibers come from, wool from sheep, lambs wool from lambs, angora from rabbits, cashmere from goats, alpaca fiber from alpacas.  These were all living animals, and clothing made from their fiber, the very fiber that is grown naturally on them to keep warm during the cold winter, would also be warm for me to wear.  I had been cold for a few days and this may have brought it on, my polyester sweater started bothering me.

The next time I went into our local Goodwill I went straight to the sweater isle looking for wool sweaters, button up or pullover, after looking thoroughly I found 4 that were worth trying on.  I ended up coming home with three new wool sweaters.  Yes, I have to wear a cotton long sleave shirt underneath, but I like one under my fleece or polypro as well.

One of the sweaters is a natural color sheeps wool that's beautifully handknit with wooden buttons.  I wore it the other day and felt warm and cozy wrapped in wool, and knew how a sheep must feel.  Someone took hours to make this, and now it was mine for $12.50  that was a lot for Goodwill so I asked the manager if it was real wool, because there was no tag of any kind.  Both of us were pretty sure it was, and when I got home I checked a piece of the fiber with a match.  I've never done this before, but I know how polyester  melts, when I put the match to the small piece of fuzz I picked off, it kind of smoked and smelled fiber like, and didn't melt,  so it's real wool.  It makes me feel good to be warm this winter in my new natural fiber sweaters. 
The story of this romney ram happened last fall at the bus stop.  We were sitting and waiting for the bus to arrive, and as it was pulling up, I could see it slowing down... until finally I saw the reason for it almost stopping, out walks this cute sheep down the middle of the road.  The bus went around it slowly, and picked up the kids, after it drove away I got out of my car and tried to get it out of the road.

At first it came right up to me real friendly as if saying, I'm lost who are you?  Then it bolted down the road,  I am in my slippers running after it in the dark, finally I was able to herd it into a neighbors land, going through sticker bushes in my slippers and no jacket, I gave up the chase, realizing what would I do if I caught it anyway? I didn't even have a lead rope.

An hour later the bus comes again, for the younger kids, and I have Kaley I'm dropping off for the bus. We went early to try and find it, looking everywhere and I came ready this time, with boots, wool jacket, and a lead rope. When her bus came around the corner the same slowing down happened, and there he was just like before in the middle of the road.  If this were my sheep,  I would want someone to care enough to help catch it and keep it somewhere safe. After a  long time of chasing, people stopping on the road to help us, several surrounding neighbors helping me herd him.  Finally I jumped at him, throwing the lead with a loop around his neck, and finally had him. 

I pushed him by the rear and led him with a rope around the rump to guide him home.  Fortunately a neighbor followed me in my car home as I pushed, pulled, and huffed it home.  Upon our arrival, I walked up with the romney ram to show Jarin who was making coffee in the cabin.  I hooted for him, and he looked out the door, and smiled and said "Where did you find that?" and "What are you going to do now?"   A good question too, our pasture was still a couple weeks away from completion and I had no idea who's sheep it was. 

First thing we did was get him set up with food and water, I gave him alfalfa, a little corn and some water.  He settled right in to eating under an asian pear tree where I tied him out.  He was wet, dirty and tired from being on the loose.  The first time I introduced him to Summer our golden retriever, who had never seen a sheep before, she cowered and was terrified, because when she went to sniff him, he tried to ram her away.  Sierra our great pyrenees wasn't afraid, just curious, the dogs spent the day entertained by this cute ram, and I of course envisioned keeping him if I couldn't find the owner that is.

We are still somewhat of a small community on our hill, so word got around to the right person, and come evening a very worried owner showed up, with a neighbor bringing him to our house to find his sheep.  Apparently 6 of his ewes were still missing from the night before, somehow the ram got separated from them.  The owner must have found them,  because I have never heard again what happened. 

It was my first experience with a sheep, what fun it was. 

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