Thursday, June 28, 2012

Does Not Share Well

I have a backlog of stories to share. Today I'll start with the tale of a trip to Nash Island. 

Early in June, Mary Jane Mucklestone and I trekked up to South Addison, a sleepy little village way, way up and out on the rocky coast of Maine.  Jani Estell, of Starcroft Fiber Mill, is staying there in the village until her new (close-by) digs and mill are ready for habitation.  MJ and I were there as helping hands for the annual Sheep Shearing of the flock on Nash Island, Jani's source of wool for the year.

Jani is lodging in the former home of Jenny Cirone, the original shepherdess of Nash Island.  Her dooryard is filled with the sheep that are voted off the island.  It's the Land of Misfit Sheep -- some with odd gaits, some with odd dispositions, some really young and adorable, and some super old and decrepit.

About thirty folks (and 2 lambs - bottle feeding still) loaded up on lobster boats early in the morning, then leaped onto the shores of Nash Island. 

We were instructed on how to gently herd the sheep into the corral as a large human chain, no dogs involved.  Rubber boots required.  Seagulls complaining, and maybe you can see why.

Jenny started the flock a long time ago, and has since passed away and left the care and traditions to the Wakeman Family of South Addison.  The Wakemans are a wonder to watch.  They are warm and friendly, kind and approachable, and the hardest working people I've met in a dog's year.

After a delicious breakfast, the work of sheep flipping, shearing, poop sequestering, skirting, and wool sorting began.  The job of the shearer is exhausting, Herculean.  Three women, Eleni, Geri, and Donna, spent the entire day bent at the hips, gently (wo)manhandling the 104 sheep at their feet, clipping them free of a year of wool.


Mid-day we had a good hand scrubbing with water warmed in a black pipe in the sun, and huge delectable meal served by the Wakeman family elders - soup, coffee, homemade mac and cheese, stews, gorgeous salads, bread, cake, cookies, homemade pie.  I was stuffed to stupid.  Then the shearers and flippers and skirters and poop scoopers got back to work.

Mary Jane

The loot was bagged and loaded, and all the gear packed up like clockwork, then shuttled out to the waiting lobsterboats.  People and lambs, too.  We chugged back to the mainland and all the wool was moved to Jani's temporary barn for safe keeping.

Leah Estell loading up a passenger

Thank you kindly to the Estell Family and the Wakeman Family for prompting me to start a bucket list in my head.  I have just checked off the first item on my list, and I hope to be able to do it again.  It was a stellar day.