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We Went to Rhinebeck

This post should have been part of a series of posts where we prepare for Rhinebeck, talk about our journey getting our stock together, and then go.

I didn’t get that done.  Picture me weighing and packaging just-finished roving from the flock the night before I left, because that’s about the pace things were taking.

We had already been invited to display our Bluefaced Leicester sheep in the breed barn, so we were committed to bringing sheep to the venue.  Then, we found out we would have a substitute vending space – awesome!  Except that we didn’t really have enough yarn to fill out a booth, so we would have to try to do some in-fill.   Fortunately, Kingdom Fleece and Fiberworks had some space in their processing calendar, so we had the lambs shorn and sent their soft, beautiful fleeces to Elizabeth.

So I left Vermont at 5am on Friday with 17 lbs of roving and 25 lbs of yarn in the truck cab, my display for both my booth and the BFL breed display in the bed of the truck, and two lambs for the breed display in the trailer.  I picked up some Icelandics in need of a ride down in Duxbury, and arrived at Rhinebeck right at 1pm.  I wish that Google Maps had a setting for navigation with a trailer.  I wasn’t keen to pay Thruway tolls for trailering, and I also had to keep de-selecting routes that used the Taconic Parkway (trailers not permitted there).  Did you get that, Google?  Good.

Packed to the gills.  And yes, yes I do use a little booster to see in my F150.

Setting up went quickly once Mom arrived, and before we knew it Saturday morning arrived.  I thought that the attendees might come in at a jogging pace, but we weren’t near any of the “hot” vendors so we were just casually populated with shoppers until our booth felt full.  Kind helpers from Ravelry joined us to help answer questions and guide customers.  I owe a big thank you to Liz, Nance and Betsy for getting us food and water, and to Alisa and Alison for answering key Rhinebeck questions and being ready with a good phone charger.

We observed some interesting outcomes in our booth.  We sold more kep patterns with our Northern Borders yarn than we did mitten patterns with our Derby Line yarn.  Colors seem to be hit or miss with different crowds, but I will be planning on making more solid colors next year, even though variegated yarn is FUN!  We will have notecards for sale on the site soon.  Mom enjoyed interacting with fellow Kep-makers from her Facebook based Kep group and just chatting about the sheep and knitting.  Mom really makes the booth possible, since she is the real fiber expert on staff.

Sunday was a bit of a letdown, mainly because I will freely admit that our booth looked picked-over after Saturday and we were quite low on yarn.  We didn’t have all of the colors and kits that people wanted to buy available.  Good information for next year, when I anticipate having twice as much yarn made for a nice, lush booth.

It is a real credit to the organizational skills of Rhinebeck managers that the show ended at 4 pm but it only took an hour and change to pack Mom up with all of the booth contents and fixtures, and then 45 minutes more for me to pick up the sheep and take them home.  This will be my last year bringing sheep to Rhinebeck, so next year will be much more straightforward.

Next year, I will have a banner instead of two aluminum signs.


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Poor 1616.   When I saw her this morning, I thought she must just have some lingering frost on her nose.  But closer inspection showed that she in fact had a dozen porcupine quills stuck in her nose!

My working theory is that the porcupine came to dine on the salt I put out for the ewes.  If you ate grass all day, wouldn’t it be better with a bit of seasoning?  The ewes think so.  Anyhow, 1616 is one of my bolder Border Leicesters, so if anyone were likely to attempt a porcupine inspection, it would be her.  I felt bad leaving her, but two attempts to catch her had her wary of me.  I can’t outrun a sheep, so I have to outsmart them.

Cue Matt, some pliers and the grain-bucket.  We shook the grain and got a whole group of ewes to converge.  Then, it was just a matter of grabbing 1616 by a leg and sitting her on her bum for extraction.  She didn’t even wince as I plucked the spines out.  We are lucky that they weren’t lodged deeply and I am reasonably sure that she will be just fine.




Meanwhile, the rams are on-duty and we will expect our first lambs on or around March 1st.  With the Bluefaced Leicesters in the barn and the Border Leicesters on pasture, we will have purebred registered stock from both breeds available next year.  I have a lot of interest in Bluefaced Leicester lambs, but I know that for many Vermont shepherds, especially ones with larger commercial ambitions, the Border Leicesters would be an excellent choice.

Bob has been pretty low-key with his Border girls, but Fred has been sniffing and chasing a bunch.  On the 20th, we will take Fred and Bob out and put Hooligan or Oliver in with the Blues(depending on whether or not Hooligan is sold) and Samson in with the Borders.  We won’t have any early lambs this year, and we will also avoid late ones.  Rams will be out by December 15th this time.


Preparations for Rhinebeck are well underway as we also admire the beauty of peak foliage.  There’s nothing more wonderful than a perfect, glorious fall.