I had another lovely day in the country for the sake of Small Town Newspaper. I've had great assignments in the past—touring wineries in the countryside, talking to a Christmas tree farmer about his deer-damaged crops, walking through the woods with tree conservationists. Yesterday, I spent some time with a couple who raise sheep for their wool.
I met the woman at the local farm market last week. She was sitting at her booth where she sold knitted goods, and she was spinning yarn on a spinning wheel. She and her husband allowed me to drive out to see their enterprise and to talk to them about what they do.
This place is way out in what is known as Amish Country. With each turn, I found myself on a narrower and narrower road, and when I was behind an Amish buggy like this one trotting along on a curvy and hilly road, I had no choice but to wait patiently for a chance to pass. Notice the 55 MPH sign—we were going 10 at best.
Here is a group of Amish school children walking home from school. They learn to speak English at the age of 5 when they first start going to school. And they are allowed to finish the 9th grade at which point they have to quit.
When I reached the top of a hill after winding around on a narrow gravel driveway, I found a beautiful log house with this guy waiting for me in the driveway. He had friends, sheep dogs who lay around in the garage until there's work to do. He's not showing his teeth out of aggression here. It just looks like it.
And I found these free-range chickens scratching around by the front door.
Once inside, I sat at the kitchen table with the shepherds, and over a cup of tea, we talked about the process of raising sheep, shearing them, and turning the wool into usable yarn. Fascinating. We enjoyed several tangents in our conversation and had a lovely chat.
Then we went out to the fields to meet the animals. This is Davey, a little goat who was very friendly and very cute.
This is Ham and Bacon, two funny pigs who will be "processed" in about a month.
On a beautiful fall day in Ohio, this is the sheep pasture for now. The shepherds practice rotational farming and will move the sheep to another pasture before winter and move the horses to this one. Click on this photo for a better view.
And once the sheep are called, they come running to meet their keepers. They are friendly, all except the ewe they call Ewe Bitch, and they like to have their ears rubbed. They were sheared in April, and already they are fluffy and amazing to touch. This is a young ewe who took a liking to me, and when I stopped petting her, she nuzzled my shoulder and insisted on more.
The sheep are guarded by an intense llama named Isaiah who once killed a rottweiler who managed to get inside the field. Don't cross Isaiah.
I loved this place.