Have You Any Wool?

Well, we all know I’ve got plenty. But that didn’t stop me from venturing north with a friend on the last day of October to the Yolo Wool Mill near Sacramento, for their annual sheep shearing festival. I had never seen mill equipment in action, let alone yarn in so many of its formative stages, so the carding and spinning operation tour appealed to my nerd side.

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It was fascinating – and these were old machines from New England that had been shipped out to California when the owner decided to get into the wool milling business many years ago. Can you imagine the detective work that would be required to figure out what went wrong if this machine suddenly stopped in mid-cycle?

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This wool waiting to be spun was gossamer soft, plush and airy.

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This odd couple met us upon our arrival; at first I thought the rabbit must be terrified of the dog, who kept nosing at its cage. But as it turned out, far from cringing in fear, the rabbit pressed its own nose right up against the mesh cage with equal enthusiasm. The two turned out to be buddies, strangely enough. But the rabbit could not be counted on not to run away, unlike the dog, which explains why one is caged and the other not.

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Not surprisingly, there were flocks of sheep pastured all around the mill and farm. These two darling little guys lay patiently as children petted them. Not a lot of yarn for sale at the little booths that were set up on the grounds, which was a bit disappointing.

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My favorite sight occurred on our way back home, when we took a wrong turn and wound up on a dead-end road traversing a marshy wetland. Suddenly, there rose up from the reeds and cattails this majestic bird – wingspan approximately four feet. The air was so still, and had that particular brackish smell of still water mixed with dried grasses. I don’t know if this was a heron or some other variety, but he was stunning.

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