Samstag, Jänner 20, 2007

About sheep

I am just going to talk about sheep. I am putting off putting a new low B string on my bray harp, and talking about sheep seems more fun. There is a slight connection between harp strings and sheep but I won't mention what it is in case the sensitive might be offended.

I grew up with sheep. OK, not in the corral, although some people who know me suspect that, but we had a lot of them. I got up at 4:30 a.m. on school days to feed the bum lambs (lambs whose mothers can't or won't feed them) using milk in pop bottles. I chased them out of hay fields. I watched the shearing. It's amazing to watch the fleece peel off the sheep in one big piece. My cousins got to "tromp" the wool, climbing into the wool sacks and packing the wool so it could be sold (for not very much). I wasn't allowed inside a wool bag. Rats!

My family has a history with sheep. Grandpa Bennion's great grandfather came to Utah from Wales in the 1850's and started an immense sheep ranch. Grandpa loved sheep, and even when he retired he kept a few as pets. When I was a very little girl he would give me snacks out of the lambs' food bin--it was alfalfa pellets with molasses on them. Yum! Grandma wouldn't have allowed it, but we didn't tell her.

We didn't know how to do anything with the raw fleece, though. Too bad. Grandma did, but she didn't see the point. It would have been work to her.

The reason we refer to people like me, i.e. horrible crowd followers, as sheep is because sheep are horrible crowd followers. If you can get just ONE sheep through a gate, all the rest of them will go. They are not like cows. We had cows, too, and herding cows required a highly trained horse called a cutting horse that knows how to go after one cow and her calf and make them conform while not losing the rest of the herd. With sheep, there isn't much cutting. You get them all or you lose them all. P.S. it is still more fun to ride the cutting horse and struggle with the cows than to work with sheep. It would have helped if we had owned that other highly trained animal, the sheep dog, but no one in our family knew how to train one so we had ordinary sheep dogs.

My husband was raised to hate sheep because of an experience his grandfather had. His grandfather was a coal miner, and knew nothing about sheep. His friend begged him to watch his flock for one week while he went home to help his mother who was ill. Grandpa Ben was reluctant but a nice guy so he agreed.

The friend didn't come back in a week. By the time he returned it had been about three weeks. And Grandpa Ben had spent most of the time pulling sheep out of the river. One sheep fell in, and so the rest all jumped in. Grandpa Ben didn't know that if he had just chased the other sheep away he could have gone back and rescued it in peace. So he pulled them out one by one again and again. Naturally this was not a huge flock like the Bennion Brothers or it would have killed him. Eventually the friend came back, and Ben swore never to touch sheep again, including at the dinner table.

Don't take this to mean that sheep are dumb. They aren't; they just have these reflexes that control them, much as I have when I hear about a yarn I've never heard of before and then go to the website and it's gorgeous. L-B: Malabrigo . . . Sheep are actually more trainable than cats. One of our lambs could count to three; at least if we went off for the day and didn't give the lambs their noon feeding, he would come back half an hour after his evening feeding and beg for a third feeding.

This is all I have to say about sheep right now. I am going to go and put that string on my bray harp. Or maybe I will knit. It's all string. What the heck.


Actually the mailman brought my package from Ruby Sapphire Yarns so I played with it instead of doing anything actually useful.

I'm sorry, I don't remember where I got my pirate ship.

From left:
Sapphire Sock Yarn in colorway "Emmi," 500 yds/4 oz; 75% wool, 25% nylon.
Ruby Sock Yarn in colorway "Chandi," 540 yds/110 g; 100% merino wool.
Ruby Sock Yarn in colorway "Fantasia."

This little guy was included in the box. He's a pez dispenser! Perfect ending for an essay on sheep.

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