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River Colors Journal

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sheep Appreciation

Appreciating the Sheep

Is there any sight more peaceful than a field of grazing sheep? From afar, their woolly white bodies dot the green field, an echo of the fluffy white clouds in the blue sky above. Their heads bent to the task of turning sweet grass into wool, a flock of sheep reminds us that life can be full and simple at the same time.
Photo courtesy of Flickr
Here at River Colors Studio, we love wool in all its forms: spun and unspun, dyed and natural. We love the variety of textures of wool from different breeds: the rustic warmth of Icelandic Lopi, the plump cushion of Malabrigo merino, the heathered loft of Shetland Spindrift, the Rambouillet bounce of Swans Island All American Collection, the exquisite softness of Woolfolk's extrafine merino.

Deep Sheep Knowledge

A mouflon. Photo courtesy of Flickr

  • Northeast Ohio's own Urban Shepherds promotes using flocks of sheep to manage grass on vacant lots and other large swaths of land like utility corridors.

    • The mouflon(Ovis orientalis orientalis), a wild sheep found in the Mediterranean and Near East, is thought to be one of the ancestors of all domesticated sheep.
    • Depending on the breed, a sheep can produce anywhere from 2 to 30 lbs of wool fleece in a year.
    • Sheep's milk cheeses are highly prized. They include Greek feta, the Spanish manchego, French roquefort and Italian pecorino romano and ricotta.
    • Sheep have been domesticated for at least 12,000 years. 
    • Wool was so valuable a commodity in early modern Europe that Spain's Age of Exploration was financed by its wool trade, and exporting Merino sheep from Spain was a capital offense until the 18th century.
    • In the same way, England's King George III, to protect the English wool industry, prohibited the export of sheep to the American colonies and banned wool trading there. And we thought the American Revolution was about taxation without representation!
    • Sheepdogs fall into two types: herding dogs, who help the shepherd move the flock, and guardian dogs, who protect the flock from predators.
    • Sheep terminology:adult males are called rams, adult females are called ewes, sheep of both sexes under 14 months are lambs. Castrated adult males are wethers.

    Interested in more sheep facts? Many of these came from 25 Surprising Facts About Sheep.

    Come to River Colors Studio on Saturday, June 25 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm to buy Cestari yarns. Francis Chester of Cestari Yarns will be here  with all of the Cestari yarn blends, plus rugs and cones of yarn.  He will tell us about his adventures as a sheep farmer in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.   After you meet him you might believe that he will have an impact on the states with the highest number of sheep!

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