Sheep to Blanket Weekend

Ellen Van Zanten - Experience Specialist
Hello again all of you out in internet-land!  We’re well on our way to another great season.  Everything is open again outside at Conner Prairie, babies are hopping around in the Animal Encounters Barn, and our oxen have made a few trips around Prairietown already. This week the Ag Staff has been gearing up for our annual Sheep to Blanket event, where we take our guests through the whole process of shearing, washing, carding, spinning, dyeing, and weaving…you know, sheep…to blanket! 
Anyways, there are many folks involved in this event, from the ladies of the Loom House who do the spinning, dyeing, and weaving, some of the people you meet in Prairietown who will be washing wool 1836-style, and us, the Ag Staff. We get to start the process with; you guessed it, the sheep. It’s in the Animal Encounters Barn where all the shearing takes place.  Over the course of three days we’ll be giving twenty or so sheep their annual haircut.
Did you know that sheep only get one haircut per year? Well, if you think about it; if we let them have that thick wool coat in the summertime, they wouldn’t be able to take the heat!  And if we sheared them once in the spring and again in the fall they wouldn’t be able to grow their coat back thick enough in time to withstand the cold winter. So the saying goes that you shear your sheep “after last frost and before first fly.” You want it to be warm enough that they won’t freeze once you cut off all their wool, but you want them to be able to grow a little bit back so they don’t get sun burned or bitten up by bugs in the summer. Right around this time in April is usually just about right.
Some of the other things you might be able to check out this weekend are sheepdog demonstrations at the Animal Encounters Barn or take a tram-ride out to Conner Prairie’s Textiles Studio (even I have never seen it! It sounds a little bit like a far-away land where all our beautiful blankets and clothes come from.). So come visit us Ag Staffers in the Barn this weekend, hopefully you’ll recognize us, we’ll be the ones with the shears covered in wool.

Posted: 4/12/2012 12:01:06 PM by Ellen Van Zanten | with 0 comments
Filed under: Sheep-to-Blanket

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