CA State Fair – 2017

Someone commented on a social media post something to the effect “It takes a village–no, it takes a Farm Club.” That’s so true. Farm Club came through again with helping me at the State Fair. Some other of our fiber friends were there as well.


This is what the main part of the display looked like. When you set up a display at a fair, the first thing you have to figure out is how to make walls. There are no walls, just sheep pens. A few years ago I came up with the idea of using corrugated tin. Do you ever see those DIY or garden makeover shows? They buy tin and then spray it with acid to make it look old. We don’t need to do that. We just go out back and find plenty of beat up, rusty tin.


The signs are mostly about Farm Club and include plenty of pretty pictures of sheep. I also had continuously running videos of the farm and sheep. That’s Jackie, Mary, Dona, and Doris spinning and making themselves available to talk to the hundreds of people who came by. DSC_2628

People admired Alison’s vest. The yarn is some that I spun during Tour de Fleece but plied at the fair.


This year I added a Touching Table.


Greenery is part of the scoring–or at least plant material is mentioned in some of the criteria. (20% Effective use of display materials. Paper, wood, metal, plastic, plants, etc.) I am always irritated that I have to go out and buy plants that I don’t need. It’s not that easy to find ones that look good for a display like this and then I can plant and keep alive here later. So this year I dug up shovel-fulls of the pasture and labeled them as such. Even though they weren’t “pretty” it made much more sense to me.


Deborah, Alison, and Kathleen were there on Friday.


This year signs in English and Spanish and having the plants and white chain (see upper photo) in front of the ram pen helped keep people away. Does it seem like overkill? The white chain was the last thing to take away when we packed up. When we went back in the barn to halter the sheep there was someone in the alleyway yanking on Buster’s horns. What can I say?


I don’t mind the ewes having any attention they can handle. This is Vixen who learned that chin scratches are nice.


Jude and Dona spinning on Saturday.


Saturday was show day. I had cleaned the sheep up the day before, including scrubbing Buster’s horns.


Here are the sheep at the ring ready to go.


Yearling rams showed first. Buster was the easiest ram that I’ve shown in the last few years. I don’t see a blog post with a photo of him after I got him, but there is a photo here of him last October. He won his class and then was awarded Reserve Champion Ram of the Primitive Breeds Division.


Doris was a huge help. She had her sheep showing debut at Black Sheep Gathering and she looked like a pro here. These sheep are the ewe lambs, Jolene and Jennie.DSC_8771

The next to last class is “Flock”. That’s one ram and four ewes. Not the best pose by Vixen, crossing her legs.


The last class is “Best Pair”. I pay attention to what the judge says and use the two that he likes best. That’s the lamb, Jolene, and Buster.


Most of my ribbons were red or white because there were some top notch Karakuls also entered in the show. They swept most of the awards. I’m happy with this award though and am satisfied with the others. The big competition was still to be determined.


I reward myself each day with cold chocolate milk. Fair time and road trips are the only time I allow myself the luxury.


Speaking of showing sheep, aren’t you glad you aren’t showing Suffolk sheep? Not only do you have to do all the work of fitting, they are the size of ponies.


Back at the sheep pens, more spinning going on. This is Pat, Dona, and Susan’s husband (and Susan) who learned to spin just before I took this photo.


And speaking of learning to spin, we added a couple of other new spinners to the ranks. I met Louis across the aisle from us. He is with Eureka Mohair and asked if he could try a wheel because he had started spinning on a spindle. I brought an extra wheel the next day and there was no looking back. He did well on the Ashford Traditional but decided that his favorite was the Ashford Joy.


And this is my view of helping an 8-year old to spin. I treadled while he drafted.


Eventually he was able to spin mostly by himself. (That full bobbin is mine however–I just let him add to it.) His family was showing sheep and he was glad to hang out with the rest of us who were spinning.


The first day I plied his yarn and he wore it as a bracelet. The next day’s spinning made enough to be worn as a necklace. (He was also very excited about his henna tattoo.)


On Sunday afternoon the Supreme Champion Ram and Ewe are selected from the Champions of each breed. This is the ram class. Southdown, Montedale, Dorper, White Dorper, Wether Sire, Dorset, Suffolk, Karakul (Primitive Breeds), Merino (Wool & Fiber Heritage Breed)  , Hampshire, Shropshire, Columbia, Natural Colored (can’t see that one), and All Other Breeds. In between the ram and the ewe class the other awards are announced.


We did OK. This is 1st in Herdsman, Best Educational Presentation (sheep), Best Educational Presentation (all the livestock), Most Creative (Marketing), 2nd in Marketing Program. Thanks Farm Club and friends!!!


Hug a Sheep Day

Hug a Sheep Day originated a few years ago at Punkin’s Patch and we think its a great idea! We were a little concerned with the forecast (rain from midnight through noon, then clearing). We went ahead with plans and didn’t see rain all day.  In fact the sun came out and the welcome rain from the previous week had cleared the sky, washed away the dust, and started the grass growing. Beautiful!


Farm Club friends came early and helped set up pens and find the huggable sheep. Jade will follow you anywhere for a chin scratch.


Jazz likes those scratches too.


This is Jade and Jazz both lined up for attention.


Jazz is probably the most huggable sheep here.



Spinners enjoyed the wonderful weather and the camaraderie.


Alison is wearing her handspun 4-ply Jacob vest. Notice the very cool felt Christmas stocking in the background. Jackie was here with her Sheep-to-Shop booth but I didn’t get good photos of that.


Claire is a friend I’ve known since we were in college in Davis in the 70’s.


I kind of like this photo because it shows a lot about the marketing of a small sheep farm. Alison and Stephany are both Farm Club members, Alison is wearing yarn from the fleece she bought several years ago, Stephany is knitting more yarn, and she bought a skull, and of course there is the sheep ready to be shorn again in a few months.


At the end of the day we decided there should be a group hug, although I realize now that this was more of a group picture than a group hug.


Next year we’ll make sure we all get in on the hug part.

Spinzilla Week

Spinzilla, A Monster of a Spinning Week is, according to the website: “a global event where teams and individuals compete in a friendly challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week!” The real goal is as a fundraiser for the NeedleArts Mentoring Program sponsored by TNNA. This year 1754 spinners participated and Meridian Jacobs hosted a team. Timing was tough for some of us because the week of spinning was right in between two other fiber events (blogged about here and here) and I was recovering from dental surgery.Spinzilla 2015Members of Team Meridian Jacobs are a dedicated bunch and many showed up for the spinning days we had here on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday as well as in Davis on Wednesday and Chico on Saturday. Six of the 25 members are from out of state and one spinner from Illinois even made it to California for a Spinzilla day. And of course there was a lot of spinning into the wee hours at home by all the members. Results will be posted tomorrow and we’ll know how we stacked up.

Here are some photos.IMG_6732It’s hard to spin outside here without dogs in the way being involved. There will be more photos of Ginny in Rusty’s next blog post.DSC_1593 DSC_1594 DSC_1596 A fun part of Spinzilla is the photo contest. One of our members suggested that we stage a photo where we are running, wheels and all, from the giant Sheepzilla.DSC_7007group3 This is Dona’s photo that Alison used to create this:teammj+sheepzillaHere is another entry…portapotty spinning…showing how dedicated Team Meridian Jacobs members are. By the way anyone on Ravelry can vote for these photos before October 22 by clicking “love” on those photo entries here and here as well as other photos by our team members and other teams. Some are quite clever so take a look.

Each of our members submitted their yardage and a photo of their yarns. Here are a few.Helene-5175 yds

Lisa-2178 yds

Marilyn-3374 yds

Paula's yarn

Sara-5484 yds 

Anna-3813 yds

Robin-2409 yds

This is the yarn that I spun…Jacob, of course.

The Second Week Ends with Fiber Fusion

I ended the last post with double doses of tylenol with codeine. I decided that I should treat myself this week the way I should have last week–relax, sleep, sleep some more. It didn’t work quite like that because it was Spinzilla week, but it was much better than the previous week. People came here and I didn’t have to do much else. I’ll write another post about Spinzilla and Team Meridian Jacobs later. However, there was another fiber event on the weekend following Lambtown–Fiber Fusion in Chico.spinzilla spinnersI had not planned to be a vendor here. Instead I was scheduled for a talk about the fiber business. I brought a couple of sheep and fiber, yarn, buttons, and lambskins. Some of Team Meridian Jacobs made the two hour drive here to spin together.Spinzilla spinningOne very dedicated Team member, who lives in Illinois, scheduled a California visit to coincide with Spinzilla week so we were able to visit with her in person, all the while keeping those wheels going.spinningSpinning side-by-side Jacob roving.Shaul'sOur neighbors on one side were Shaul’s, who make all the panels and feeders that I use in the barn. I brought a few more pieces home with me.yakOn the other side was Elvis, the yak.Jackie's booth Jackie had a booth inside where it got hot and stuffy. We had the more pleasant conditions with a nice breeze. Although I always enjoy hanging out with my friends and I was thrilled to meet our distant team member, I was still not back to normal and this felt like a really long day. I didn’t look forward to the two hour drive home, but then I saw the most beautiful sky and hundreds of geese flying in from the south.sunset, Colusa Co? (1) I had to stop. I pulled off the freeway at an exit that I recognized as one where I had slept for an hour or so on my way back from Oregon in June. This is the view to the northwest.sunset, Colusa Co?You can’t make out the geese in these but here is the view with my other camera:DSC_1661These don’t do the scene justice.DSC_1657

geesegeese (1) This stop along the freeway was a big boost in a long day. I need to go back up there this fall or winter and spend some time in the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge.


I spent a lot of time on Ravelry last week chatting and posting photos because that’s where the action was for Spinzilla, a week-long spinning contest that is a fund raiser for the Needle Arts Mentoring Program for TNNA.  I hosted Team Meridian Jacobs and there were spinners here almost every day for a week. My team filled with 25 spinners so, although I was captain, I didn’t do any spinning. I knew that I needed to keep working on pieces for my upcoming show at the Artery. Here are some photos from the week. Rusty also wrote a blog post about his part in the activities.

Look at the gorgeous yarn being spun.DSC_8587Yarn      DSC_8736

DSC_8672There were prizes everyday. These are special fiber jars donated by Dona.DSC_8732At the end of the week everyone measured their yarn and submitted the totals along with photos to Spinzilla. We don’t know the results yet, but all of our returning members exceeded their totals from last year.DSC_8823 We spent a little time in the barn taking photos to share with others and to enter in the photo contest to be judged this week. DSC_8833 DSC_8716

Processed with MoldivDSC_8738We heard that some teams required a commitment of a certain amount of yards spun, but for our team the whole thing is about Fun. I look forward to spinning on the team next year.

At theAththe end of the week