It's a gorgeous day at the farmette. Not stinking hot like it was last week. Just a nice, soft, sunny summer day. Yesterday, we went whole hog (literally - I'll explain later) to get to two events that were nearly polar opposites - but equally fun. One was the Holstein Ag Expo, which featured everything related to sheep, wool and sheep dogs. The other was the Freedom Machine show of all things motorcycle. Each was within about 10 minutes of the farmette. Which was handy for driving our antique (circa 1990) Miata with the top down!
At the expo, located south of the farmette, we were enthralled by the dog trials. Amazing border collies chasing the baaing wool balls between barrels, around stanchions and through chutes. They are tireless wee things that, even when the trial timed out and the owners called them back, most of them were still running at top speed around the pasture.
There were also rip-roaring sheep shearing competitions and demonstrations.
An Aussie played emcee, providing colourful commentary about how sheep rearing and shearing is done in his own country and around the world for the duration.
He said that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) takes two per cent of the sale price of shorn wool from farmers which is then invested in research and development for the country's industry. I looked it up, and their federal government supplements the investment up to a cap of .5 per cent of overall annual sales.
In this way, the wool industry can continue innovating, and the 24,000 (!) wool producers have a vested interest in their own futures. Cool, eh? Canada should do something like this, methinks.
At one point during the proceedings, a professional shearer showed off his precision by blindfolding himself with a big red and white towel before deftly denuding the pliant ovine.
There were also spinners and felters and weavers, oh, my. They were all either showing how their respective artistic talents work or competing with one another for prizes.
This woman demonstrated how she 'felts' the wool that has been cleaned (dish detergent and a rinse) and carded. She has a $10,000 machine that binds together layers of wool to make felt pads that are then sold to her customers to make artisanal wall hangings and other goods. She said the felt can be made into comfy insoles to keep your feet warm in winter, as well!
So about the hog thing. After a pitstop that included a wee nap back at the farmette, we set out again - this time north instead of south - to the Markdale road (Grey Count 12) to mooch around with bikers.
I couldn't believe how huge the show was! It was basically in the middle of nowhere. Okay, it was at the Frontier Ghost Town, which I didn't even know existed.
Anyhow, this many-acres-large place held the biggest collection of motor bikes I've ever seen. There were homemades (rat bikes), brand new, vintage - you name it, the bike was there - including Harleys, Nortons, Yamahas and even a gigantic Indian that could probably accommodate an entire family.
The paint jobs and artistry on display was incredible, including some amazing helmets with intricate stories told in pictures, like this one.
There was an air of friends, fun and reunions with lots guys and gals with lots of hair and tattoos hugging each other, drinking beer and admiring the machinery. Campgrounds were available for overnighters, and we saw this beauty in front of one of the visitor's trailers.
All in all, it was a terrific day...and we were quite pooped by the time we got home from all the festivities. So it was nice to just chill out in the back yard of the farmette and relax with a certain orange furball. Until next week.