This weekend, Mark and I went to the Southeastern Fiber Fair. It is a huge event for people in the fiber and textile industries, associated of course, with those animals that produce the fiber. The event was in Asheville, a three hour drive from home and featured three days of seminars and classes on subjects like spinning, felting, dying, how to breed llamas for enhanced color, or pasture care for sheep grazing. I didn’t sign up for any classes this time. I mainly wanted to see the vendors and check out what this new world was all about. I figured if I was intrigued, I’d return next year for the long weekend to participate more fully. (And I will.)
As we packed up the car, I tossed a small and a large dog carrier into the back of the car. Mark didn’t say anything.
About an hour into the drive, I said, “I suppose you noticed the cages in the back.”
He grinned and said, “Not like I didn’t already know there would be more than two of us returning from this trip.”
I had been talking about wanting a female English angora rabbit with a pedigree, and I had read that several vendors would have them available at the fair. I have two angoras now, but they haven’t reproduced. This August, when the heat was unbearable, I decided to shave them bald and low and behold, my female had balls. Oops. No wonder the dang rabbit won’t get pregnant. I could have called the woman I bought them from, because she is my spinning teacher and a friend and she would no doubt change out my “he” for a “she”, but now that I’ve had these bunnies for a year, I’m attached. I couldn’t possibly send away little Cumulus (we named him after the cloud). So I determined the solution was to buy a female. Since I now have a stormy grey and a snow white angora, I was hoping for a light tan color called “fawn”.
Then the next morning when we returned to the fair to pick up the bunny, we took one last stroll along the outside stall vendors to peek at the llamas, and don’t ya know, we see one last beautiful fawn female rabbit for sale.
Denver’s school is an hour away, so she met us for the day. What we didn’t consider was the fact that she is highly allergic to animal fur, and obviously this place was loaded with it. Duh. It didn’t take long for her to start sneezing and feeling bothered, so we cut the day short. We were there for the few hours and we all had a fascinating time.
We watched the competition, learning about what is considered good conformation and good fiber each time winners were announced with an explanation of why the goats placed as they did. There were goats available for sale and we came close to purchasing one or two, but we had plans to visit Denver’s school for a day before going home, so we thought the timing wasn’t very good. We decided it might be best to wait until spring so we can be really prepared for a new breed of animal at home and think it through. Gotta watch that impulse buying when it comes to animals, because it demands a commitment long after the thrill of loving on the new cute fuzzy friend.
(Here he is, but he didn’t turn around, darn it.)
We have the fellow’s number and we said we might call, but later we decided that perhaps we should wait until next year for a new llama too. We are expecting a baby in spring, so it is not like we need another male yet. Every mouth to feed in the winter is a trial due to the fact that there is a national shortage of hay currently, thanks to area droughts. It is weird that we must think this way (like farmers) but that is the reality of our new lifestyle. We are always considering our limits in regards to feed and pasture availability.
We had fun looking at the beautiful llamas. I was jealous, because these llamas are so tame they give their owners kisses. My llamas are standoffish by comparison.
Llama people are fun to talk too. They have this wonderful enthusiasm for the beast, and they are quick to share information. We learned about “click and reward” systems of training, and people shared their experiences. I’m now thinking it is time to work with my llamas at home. Heck, I want kissing llamas too. We must be becoming llama savvy over time, because out of dozens of competitors, the animal we were most impressed with happened to win the overall best in show. Apparently we have an eye for llama superiority. Who knew? This does not seem to carry over to my own llamas, of course, because I happen to think they are the bestest llamas in the world, despite their flaws. Love does that to a gal.
I purchased some hand dyed roving to spin now too. It was fun shopping at the booths because there were such vibrant, interesting blends and color combinations. We could run our hands along all kinds of llama wool, natural sheep fleeces, every kind of yarn imaginable and see finished products like hand knit scarves, hats and sweaters etc.. We saw demonstrations of looms, spinning wheels, carders (I am dying to get one of these) and other fiber instruments.
There were soap makers there too, and I inspected their wares (in a competitive way, I confess.)
It was a great day. We stayed in a lovely Victorian Bed and Breakfast and next went to visit Denver at her jewelry craftsmen school. I’ll tell you about that – but not today.
I’m late for a quilting class this morning, and IT’S HALLOWEEN. Gotta make pumpkin soup today, don’t ya know.
Later. . . boo.