Sheep have it bad. One the one side we have the infamous Minor Threat analogy that to be like sheep in the modern world is the lowest of the low. To follow blindly and accept anyone/any trend as leader seems to be the unfortunate choice of so many overstimulated American consumers (because we have now devolved into consumers, a definate downgrade from de Tocqueville's citizens). On the other side of the pasture fence, is the peaceful little bundle of soon to be wool, that only asks for a green patch, and yearly sheering to blithely carry on its' eco-cycle of no-kill production of goods. Well, yes, occasionally there is the one too many rams that need to be shipped off to start their own commune or perhaps eaten. Of course the natural solution would be to let the wolves thin the flock, but unfortunately they don't kill by gender, and then all those handsome llamas and master sheep dogs would be out of work and that could get very ugly on a Saturday night in downtown small townville.
ANYWAY, there I was killing time while in line at my semi-local, overpriced, out to crush the little guy organic supermart and a lefty publication caught my eye, suggesting vegan options to WOOL! Wool, the perfect no-kill winter weather protector? Wool, the happiest product of the sweetest little rambouillet and hebridean?
The article cited industrial sheep farming in Australia, as the destructive culprit, suggesting sheering leads to some animaIs freezing to death, and being unfairly treated. While I am not a vegan, I do surely know that Industrial farming can lead to no good end. What about all the small-time farmers who raise sheep as members of the family, naming them and grieving emotionally and financially if one should pass on before its time? To take this encouragement of avoiding wool to a practical application; If no one wore wool, then wouldn't sheep die out, in that no one would raise a farm animal that wasn't bringing in money? I can't really continue this train of thought, it's too horrifying to think of a world without sheeeeeep...
For those who worship sheep and all they stand for, the holiest of weekends is fast approaching: the annual Sheep and Wool Festival held at the Rhinebeck, NY fair grounds, October 20, 21. Hundreds of vendors and small farmers from near and far haul their prized animals in to show folk how good the pastoral life can be. In past visits I've met some wonderful longtime farmers and just starting out, second career folks who are working hard to find a way to make a living off the land in an wholistic and individual way. Quick, make that reservation for your Zipcar to carry you away to the land of sheep dog trials, home spun yarns, alpacas, maple candies and fabulous lamb stew.