Since the very first time I visited a sheep farm, I have been touched by the camaraderie, encouragement, compassion, and sharing of knowledge within the community of sheep people. Through the years of raising my own sheep, I have come to believe it is because shepherds understand the heart work of raising sheep as well as the day to day care. They have seen the long hours, the bringing forth of new beings and the letting go. They have experienced the fragility of life and the resilience of those choosing life. They research, problem solve and take initiative. They are not hardened by their loses but rather empowered by them. Shepherds understand that this work can sometimes leave you discouraged and isolated. They get the value of support and they take every opportunity to meet with like-minded people.
This past weekend, at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival, we were surrounded by like-minded sheep people- shepherds, knitters, fiber enthusiasts, and festival goers who came to meet us and encourage us. We had entered three of our ewe lambs into the NY sheep show held on Sunday. Many of our instagram followers and sheep friends came out to encourage us from the stands. It was awesome to have their support and know that regardless of what happened in the ring, we had our own network of supporters and Gotland fans. Many of them had followed our work all summer, getting our ewes ready for the show. They knew the many hours invested to get them this far. We so appreciated having familiar faces by the show ring side lines.
I had a team of helpers who took the ewes into the show ring. The judge seemed to be favoring the larger breeds of sheep and I knew the chances of placing were slim. Our class had about 15 sheep represented in total. Much to my surprise, my ewes took 6th, 8th, and 9th place. I was pleased with this, as the first 5 places were given to the larger breeds. By the end of the weekend, I had three tired ewe lambs, and two exhausted shepherds-all of which were glad to be heading home and thinking about next year’s show!
A huge thank you to everyone who stopped by to visit with us and to those who sat through all the sheep shows! It was great meeting with you!