As fiber artists, we all appreciate the variety of fuzzy, wooly, hairy creatures who provide us with the materials of our craft. Sheep are my favorite fiber animals, and not just because I see sweaters when I look at them. They have such lovely, funny faces, and so much personality. There used to be a small family farm ten minutes from my house, and every spring we would detour past the fields to look for the new lambs. There’s nothing better than watching lambs at play — they seem to have springs instead of legs. This little cutie is from Bittersweet Heritage Farm in St. George, Maine:
Photo by Dyan Redick
One thing I’ve always been fascinated by is sheep herding. I suppose it started with James Herriot. My grandmother sent me his picture books when I was young, and my mother would read them aloud with all the accents. I quickly became a devotee of the TV show as well. (For those of you who don’t know, James Herriot was a Yorkshire veterinarian who wrote wonderful stories of his patients and their people.) In almost every episode, there would be a flock of sheep pouring across the Yorkshire Dales, accompanied by a farmer and a dog or two. Now, I’ve personally tried to single out a horse from a herd, and I’ve only succeeded when the horse allowed me to. How could one farmer possibly direct a whole flock of sheep across an open landscape? The answer is thanks to a seamless partnership between farmer and sheepdog. It’s pure magic to see a sheepdog at work, and if you have a chance you should check out the herding demonstrations at the Common Ground Country Fair this year. But for those of you who can’t wait until September, I’ve rediscovered a fun video that was sent to me a few years ago. It involves sheep, LEDs, and a few farmers with a brilliant idea (and perhaps a little too much free time?). As you watch it, think about the incredible work of the sheepdogs that made this video possible: Extreme Sheep Herding.