I forget each year how much energy it takes to do a craft show or farmers market. The loading and setup, the takedown and drive home after hours of being "on" with the public. While there, I am energized by the curious folks who have never seen spinning before and the customers who appreciate my work. I do love this, but always need a "down" day afterwards.
It was truly shady and comfortable most of the day in Taylorsville for Pioneer Day on June 15th. Fun to get in costume and meditate while spinning on how different it would be if I had to be doing this, rather than choosing to. Was it tedious for the ancestors, or was it a cheerful, mundane routine; the slower pace of life giving a more accepting attitude?
The grass next to a creek in front of Good Vibrations in Chester was a pleasant location to set up the Shear Bliss booth on July 20th. I did fairly well, met lots of enthusiastic folks and enjoyed the drive back home along Lake Amanor in the 99-degree afternoon.
Another blast from the past was at Plumas-Eureka State Park in Johnsville for Gold Discovery Days on July 21st, in nearly 100-degree heat. In addition to spinning demonstration, there were wagon rides (provided by high school classmate Rick Joy and his beautiful horses) and Rambouillet lambs to pet (provided by Anna Harvey of Sierra Valley). We spinners didn't have time to make candles or visit the blacksmith, but we did have some tasty Cornish pasties (and a Dr. Pepper, not very authentic, I suppose).
Anna (pictured spinning) and I had particularly poignant conversations with onlookers about the properties and value of wool and enjoyed listening to children "baa" back at the lambs.
That demonstration day made 3 out of four days that I packed the car with spinning paraphernalia and spun for hours in the summer heat.
Sometimes I'd rather be home, able to take a nap in the hot afternoon if I want one, yet as I contemplate loading up the car for today's farmers market in Quincy (my fourth of the season) I know I'll enjoy the evening once I'm there. After the rigors of setting up the booth, I will forget all about the pain of taking down again as I greet folks, sitting at my spinning wheel and hear comments like I did last week: a mother in my booth explaining to her young child about how taking the fleece from a sheep is a necessary and gentle thing; "Isn't it wonderful that they don't have to kill the sheep to get the wool and make that beautiful yarn she's spinning?" That's what keeps me going...
As I scurry to get the Feather River Fibershed organized and viable, I force myself to take breaks. Visiting the sheep both calms and invigorates me. Among their many observable traits, sheep are always reaching for something better on the other side of the fence
which got me thinking about their eating habits. Many folks feed their sheep grain, but I was trained to think of it as occasional "candy" for them, to get them to comply when I want them to move somewhere. A recent newsletter from the Ranching Management Consultants had some "food for thought":
Feeding The World or
Feeding Our Habit
by Dave Pratt
I attended a conference at which a professor from a major University spoke of the need for implants, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers and other inputs to increase production so American farmers and ranchers can continue to feed the world. She argued that the 98% of people who aren't involved in production agriculture just don't get it. I think she's right. If the 98% saw some of the things that we do, they wouldn't get it. They'd think we're nuts. Consider the following and tell me what you think:
Breakfast in Bed for Cows
Feed lots are the ruminant equivalent of breakfast in bed. BSE reminded us that cows are herbivores, not carnivores. What we haven't seemed to learn is that ruminants are celluloseivores not starchivores. The high grain (starch) rations we use to finish animals only work because we kill them before it kills them.
I also read an interesting article about how we can manage our pastures to help our sheep stay healthy. This was from an organization that has just come to my attention: BEHAVE--Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation & Ecosystem Management - The BEHAVE mission is to inspire people to master and apply behavioral principles in managing ecosystems through research, extension, and teaching. Read the article here.
After eight days of my internet connection disappearing, I am mysteriously back online. I managed to cope without access to communications I knew were lying in wait for me in my inbox and without the temptation to browse the 'net every time I had a wild question, but it was a challenge. I realized how often I belittle technology, feeling that we've come too far too fast, but also that I've come to depend on technology to keep me connected in this rural setting. Without the internet, we are living "under a rock."
I did spend more time reading real books this past week, which I have allowed myself not to find time to do.
And my break from technological connectivity made me all the more grateful for my personal connectivity. The community of wonderful people that surround my mountain life is extraordinary.
My friend Holly, seen here explaining kumihimo, hosted our Roving Mountain Spinners day yesterday. I am so fortunate to be part of this group of amazing women; their creativity, passion, and support is overwhelming and nourishing.
We spin and talk and help each other untangle our messes, both with fiber and with our lives.
Grateful to be back online, keeping in mind the value of the real connections...