News from Rhinebeck

Comments on Rhinebeck festival from Joan Chapin.

This year, as in years past, my son and his wife, children, and I went to Rhinebeck with my Blue yearling ewes  and Wes/Hil’s Romneys.  We went on Thursday, got there late afternoon, and since the wind was coming into our pens along the side, we decided to send me out to the hardware store for tarps.  Two 10’ x 20’…Wes put them up to cover our 7 pens along the side…Good thing.  By Friday morning it was pouring, big wind was from that side…and sometimes the rain was so hard that it was deafening in that metal roofed barn (upper barn).  They said some of the vendor areas, where they were trying to set up, had to be sump-pumped out, I think they were pointing down toward the fleece barn. Saturday and Sunday were cool and sunny…Good thick crowd on Saturday, not as much on Sunday, thank heavens!  Rhinebeck is truly THE place for fleece sheep and fleece people; the barns are constantly filled with the public looking at and asking about sheep.  Very invigorating.

We were down the row from Cindy and Margaret of Pitchfork Ranch, who brought Romneys and Blues…  There was a mystery Blue down by Anchorage Farm near the wool room, and we found out that it was one bought by a young lady from CT from someone in Maryland. I am always interested in these lone Blues and why a person would have only one!

The white longwool show was Saturday afternoon. This year my ewes were in the (split) yearling classes, and both came in 5th after Romneys and Lincolns.  That is one place higher than last year as lambs.  Obviously I don’t go for the premium money; but glad to be placed at all.  The Natural Colored longwool show was Sunday morning.

I learned several years ago that if I stay around my pens and answer questions, and watch the people dig their fingers into the long soft Bluefaced fleece, I would have the opportunity to show people the differences in Bluefaced compared with, say, Border Leicester fleeces…and show them hand spun, hand dyed, and hand knitted articles, so they can appreciate the luster, drape, and softness of the Bluefaced wool. Against my usual rules, I sold one raw fleece last year to a woman who heckled me for much of Saturday morning, and she has kept in touch on email, reminding me that she wants to buy Lena’s fleece again this year.   I met one woman who turned out to be a medical doctor who specializes in stress issues and who spins!  She was enchanted with the Bluefaced fleece and yarns, and I think she’s hooked on it for her own stress-relieving spinning.  Maybe she’ll start a spinning group for stress relief!  With BFL roving, of course.

So I got out to a few of the old buildings on Sunday afternoon, and saw a few vendors who go to the NH Sheep & Wool Festival in May. I especially noted the absence of Kathy Davidson at her booth. Lewis White was there with his Little Barn tent, and his BFL roving; he said he’d had to cut back on his Bluefaces.  Lisa Westervelt stopped by.  Rhinebeck has grown so much in the last few years that I will never get around to see it all, especially when I have sheep in the pens.

Home at 12:30 AM Monday. Happily exhausted, to find my new Scotty ram lamb poking around the barn, sniffing thru’ the pen panels at the ewes.

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