(Warning: picture-heavy post.) I made it to Dixon, CA today for the 21st annual Lambtown Festival. I have to say I was expecting something much larger than what it was. It is my understanding that it is a different venue this year than in previous years. Usually it’s held at the fairgrounds; today it was held in a small park. I thought it would be about half the size of a Stitches West but it was far smaller. There were only about 40 booths, I’d estimate, and half of them were not fiber-related at all (jewelry, knock-off handbags, clothing, windchimes). Of the fiber-related half, a lot of the fiber was fleeces, which I’m not interested in at this point. That left just a little for me to look at, which was fine for today since the temperature was in the mid-90’s and the last thing I wanted was a long day. Had it been larger I would have had to cut it short, so it worked out OK.  

There was a small indoor area that had knitted, woven, and spun samples that participants had submitted for judging. I read the comments on the spinning with great interest and, like the other spinners who were at the table with me, mentally compared my work with what was there. 

There were 10 sheep and 1 alpaca to meet and greet. This one is a suri alpaca. He was moving around a lot and hard to photograph:

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He was friendly and his owner had taught him some tricks. He was only up for performing the kissing trick, pecking his owner quickly on the face. She said the suri alpaca’s fleece grows in thick locks resembling dreadlocks.  

There was a pen with three Jacob sheep, two female (2 horns) and one male (4 horns):

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I really like the two-color Jacob coloring, and bought a bag of roving:

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I spoke to the owner, asking her if her sheep would be sheared today during the demonstration. She replied that they don’t get shorn until January. They live nearby and are used to the warm weather, and go outside willingly even in the heat, but have the opportunity to go inside the barn whenever they want a break. She made sure their pen had some shade today.

I watched one of the shearing demonstrations. The gentleman shearing certainly did a fast job, shearing 3 sheep in about 15 minutes. The fellows would pick out a sheep from the pen, then try to gently get that one outside the pen while leaving the others inside, occasionally a tricky job. Getting the sheared one back in afterward proved just as tricky. Here are the five lucky ones who ended the day cool. The tall, white sheep in the front is Pepsi:

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Here’s sheep #1 getting ready for shearing:

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And being divested of its fleece:

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Result: about 3 pounds of fleece:

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I didn’t take any pictures of sheep #2. He was small and didn’t have much fleece, so it was over really fast. He also seemed unhappy about the process and I didn’t want to document his being in such an undignified position in front of an audience. 🙂

That position they’re in, kind of lying on their backs and propped up against the shearer’s legs, is what helps keep them calm. Only sheep #2 struggled a little; the others lay there quietly. I bet it felt great to lose that wool coat in the hot weather. The shearer shears about 1500 sheep a year, mostly on weekends and in evenings (in addition to his day job), and is very proficient from what I can tell. The cuts are long and clean and the fleece comes off in one big piece.

For sheep #3, one of the guys got talkative, answering questions and offering up some details. Here we have Pepsi the 220-pound Lincoln sheep, who is 11 years old, never sired any young ‘uns, and will get to live out his life (the guy said sheep live from 15-30 years, depending on the breed), getting ready to be shorn of about 5 pounds of fleece: 

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Shearing him was more difficult than the others because of his age. His skin is more wrinkly so the shearer had to take more care. Pepsi seemed to almost enjoy it, leaning back with his eyes shut for the first minute or two of shearing:

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There were two more sheep hanging out near the booths, but without any associated humans so I don’t know the breed:

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With the change in venue this year, they were unable to hold the sheepdog trials. I am sorry; I would really have gotten a kick out of watching that.  

A Sheep To Shawl competition took place today but with only one group participating. I chatted a bit with the spinners and the plyer. And before I left, I picked out some Icelandic roving to take home:

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