by Sue Gustafson, Four Oaks Farm, Sebastopol, CA
Every year at the beginning of June the tingle starts. Black Sheep Gathering is in three weeks! The new lambs have been closely scrutinized, the decision has been made about which sheep are going to the show, and the entries are paid. Now it’s time to join forces with my traveling friend, Joyce Torrigino, load up, and leave in the middle of the night. It’s not as sneaky as it sounds! It’s just much cooler on both people and sheep to drive through the central valley of California at night and avoid the heat. The drive is twelve hours by the time we get there on Thursday afternoon.
We find our pens and bed down our sheep. We set up our display and I take my contribution to our sales pen in the barn. Robina Koenig, Jared Lloyd, and I have items for sale where Robina has set up a very nice display for BLU. There are dyed locks, white and natural colored roving, and Jared made wonderful scarves with a felted backing and locks of fleece needle felted to the front side. Just lovely!
At the show there were a total of 50 BFLs, including the natural colored, which show with the whites. In the ewe lamb class alone there were 22! What a marvelous sight to look out and see such numbers of my favorite sheep. Jared Lloyd (CO), Robina Koenig (OR), Brooke Jacubos (OR), Nancy Gilkeson (OR), and myself brought sheep and showed with help from the other BFL members who were there this year. Extra hands of Garrett Ramsay (MN, transported sheep from the east), Kelly Wilder (CA), Ann Morrison (WY), Rory and Jody McLean plus James and LoriAnne Nibourg from Alberta, Canada, all added to the fun of the show.
The comraderie in the barn and show ring is only added to by the socializing on our ‘off’ time. Our go-to eatery is the 6th Street Bar and Grill, a short walk from the Downtown Motel where several breeders stay the weekend. Great food and drink around a large table or two! Lots of conversation and excitement! Then on Saturday night the festival committee sponsors a pot luck. They barbeque the donated lamb and we bring the side dishes. Then we all head back to the show ring for the Spinner’s Lead, a lighthearted time of showing off what you’ve made while leading a sheep. The emcee makes it light and everyone gets a prize.
The show finishes on Sunday afternoon and we all pack up to make the drive home. The McLeans and the Nibourgs rounded up the sheep they had bought to make the long drive home to Alberta, Canada. Yes, more quality BFLs going from the USA to Canada. And Joyce and I started our trek back to California, certainly looking forward to next year at the Black Sheep Gathering. And just to add a prompt here, next year we will have our own BFL lot listed in the exhibitor’s book! For more information check out www.blacksheepgathering.org See you there in 2013!