Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fleece four feet high

How does a person get a pile of fleece four feet high? First you take too much dried fleece,

Roll it through the carder,

Make sure the twigs, grass are removed from the drum,

Stand around for a while thinking “Where will I put this?” and then dump it on the floor.

Along the way, because this is really a boring job and it is hard to hear the radio, you change fleeces for variety.

Eventually..... you get this.

Then, sooner or later, you start to spin but we'll save that for another day. Don't forget to go back in the basement and wash the remaining fleece.

While you are waiting for an opportune time to spin, you don't freak out when this happens.

Now from a poetic photographic point of view, I should stop here. But I have to tell you about the sheep that all this fleece came from. As I was carding the locks of fleece, I was comparing it in my mind to last year's sheep's fleece. Despite not knowing what I was doing last year, I thought it had been pretty simple. The steps didn't change this year, but the quality of the locks was very different. Initially, I was lulled into thinking "good fleece" but then, I discovered this sheep's darker side.

I think her name was "Floozie". In fact, I am pretty sure she had a name with such insalubrious conatations because... she had straw everywhere. Not just on her "skirt" which are the bottom droopy bits that drag on the ground when a sheep is looking pastoral. She had straw under her armpits; four of them. She had twigs, of quite a size, every so often. And the part that really made me know she is a sheep of questionable character were the paint chips. This girl must have regularly gone behind the barn, where the paint is always peeling and leaned up against the boards. At first I thought the chips were from my basement floor which is a long and horrible story of painting gone wrong, but eventually I realized the chips were too darn big. And the wrong shade of pale blue. I took a huge chip downstairs just to compare. Not from my floor and where else can a sheep go but behind the barn.

As a woman who knows of what she speaks, going behind any large building where the paint is peeling (a.k.a. the local hockey rink), I know what a girl can get up to. And Floozie had the evidence in her locks. She smoked. And she leaned on fences. Probably talking to swells from the other side of the fence, where the fields looked greener. How did I know this? The cigarette butt in one part of the fleece and the NAIL in another.

My peeling building was adjacent to a race track back in the '70's when racing horses and dogs were still rural community events so I know that nails were popping out of those poor fences by the dozen. But you still had to frig with them to get them to come out fully. Floozie had a whopper in her fleece. Obviously, this was a long standing relationship.

I can't fault the sheppard for her sheep's behaviour. The fleece had been properly "skirted" which means the really filthy parts were cut off before she was shorn. But a sheppard can only watch her sheep by day (as the song goes) and so the behind the barn behaviour is more scandalous in that Floozie knew she was sneaking off. Well kids, however you mock my cautionary tales based on regretable experiences, one thing I can say with impunity, I never came home with paint chips, cigarette butts or nails in my hair.

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