Photopost: Woolapalooza

My son and I attended Woolapalooza today, Drumlin Farm’s celebration of all things pertaining to sheep.  We saw one man working hard with the shears to remove the wool of many sheep quickly and skillfully.   It was surprise that there wasn’t a team of people using electric shearing tools, but he got the job done (although we did see one sheep in the meadow with a big boo-boo from the shears).  We were also impressed by the sheepdog demonstrations as a border collie expertly herded a small flock around the pasture.  This made an impression since we recently watched Babe.  The only pig at the farm was a large, pregnant sow named Hattie sleeping in the pig shed.  There were many pregnant ewes as well as new-born lambs and kids.  It was a fun day and made for some good photographs.

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Mission: Boston

With the first day of spring upon us and Boston officially thawing out, it’s time to get out and do something!  There are many things to do and sites to see right near home that I always find a way to procrastinate, some for several years running now.   Here are ten things to do in metro-Boston that I’ve never done before that I would like to do between now and Thanksgiving.

  1. Finally visit The Museum of Bad Art in Dedham
  2. Tour an old house like the Loring-Greenough House in JP, the Gibson House Museum in Back Bay,  the Nichols House Museum in North End, the Shirley Eustis House in Roxbury and/or the oldest of them all the James Blake House of Dorchester.
  3. Walk through the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library.
  4. Check out the new Institute of Contemporary Art.
  5. Check out the view from the observation deck on the Customs House tower.
  6. Walk the African-American Heritage Trail.
  7. Get back to nature at the Boston Nature Center. (completed 5/25/09)
  8. Take in a vintage baseball game, preferably on Georges Island.
  9. Sample the beers at the Samuel Adams Brewery Tour.
  10. Commune with the fuzzy pigs at Drumlin Farm. (completed 8/26/09)

Of course, I’d like to get out of town and do some things outside of Boston as well.  Here are five things in greater New England that I’ve never done before that I’d like to do in the same time period:

  1. Watch the second largest St. Patrick’s  Parade in America in Holyoke, MA. (completed 3/22/09)
  2. Journey through a world of art and culture at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA
  3. Get my public transit geek on at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME (completed 6/21/09)
  4. Visit the literary landmarks of Hartford, CT: the Mark Twain & Harriet Beecher Stowe houses
  5. Stroll around historic Providence, RI and perhaps witness WaterFire.

If I do any of these things, I will of course blog about it here.  Come join me if you want to do these things too!

Podcasts Always Come in Threes

Three more episodes of podcasts worth listening too:

  • Disgustingly Adorable” – Colonial Williamsburg: Past & Present covers the annual spring lambing, a big event for Phi Pi fans. Previous sheeplore: Fuzzy Pigs and Out Like a Lamb.
  • News from Lake Wobegon” – A Prairie Home Companion is a classic radio show, although it’s a bit tired these days. I’ve heard about all the Guy Noir and Ketchup ads I care to hear. Luckily there’s a podcast just for the best part, Garrison Keillor’s monologue. The one for May 3, 2008 is particularly good with a reflection on why Christianity is hard and the great line, “Gas costs more than beer. Don’t drive, drink.”
  • The Beauty and Challenge of Being Catholic: Hearing the Faithful” – An episode of APM: Speaking the Faith I learned about via Dirty Catholic. This a great selection of interviews from a cross-section of American Catholics. More interviews and transcripts at the website

Out Like a Lamb

An article published in the Boston Globe, First lambs are sign of spring at Stamford farm, by Alison Damast of the Stamford Advocate makes me happy on a pretty spring day. First, it is about sheep which always make me happy. I love that the ewe is named Rachel. I love that the llamas are watching out for the lambs.

Second, this story takes place at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, one of my favorite places on earth. As a kid it was fun to go and see the pigs wallowing at the Heckscher Farm, watch ice harvesting, attempt to follow the trails through the woods to the Bartlett Arboretum, see the American Indian exhibits in the museum, and maybe, just maybe, be there on a day when the otter came out of his hole.

One day I’ll trek to Stamford with my children and take them to the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. And they will be bored stiff because they have no nostalgic memories of the place.  It’ll build character.

Fuzzy Pigs

I am a big fan of travel guide writer Rick Steves who is responsible for a series of excellent guidebooks to Europe, a useful travel website, travel specials on public television, and a radio show called Travel With Rick Steves. I listen to the latter regularly as a podcast. While generally the show features travel experts talking about destinations around the world with phone-in questions from listeners, the most recent episode’s unique topic is Encountering Sheep in Your Travels. I highly reccomend giving a listen

This makes total sense to me as I’ve seen and photographed sheep in seven nations. In Ireland where a sheep posed by the sheep crossing sign while other sheep in Slea Head grazed in impossible places on the cliff’s edge, in Versailles where regal sheep dominated the barnyard of Marie Antoinette’s Hameau, or in the the Alpe di Siussi where the jingle of sheep bells rang clear across the meadow and to the peak of Mt. Pez.

Of course, I appreciate sheep in my home country as well. In college my roommate Alan was famed for visiting the sheep at Colonial Williamsburg whenever he felt stressed. The term “Fuzzy Pig” originated from an apophrycal CW story about a city slicker parent exclaiming to her children to look at the fuzzy pigs. Alan along with several of our classmates at William & Mary formed a Fuzzy Pig appreciation society. The spring lambing was a big event and it was great to take a break from studying for finals to watch the newborn lambs frolic in the meadows. Do not underestimate the therapeutic value of a Leicester Longwool.

Sheep and shepherds are also a common metaphor throughout scripture. In a wonderful case of serendipity, today’s Gospel reading contains one of those instances:

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9:36

In my own room I have religious sheep imagery including a crossknit illustration of “The Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23)” given as gift to Alan & I from another college friend. For my first communion, each of the children made a felt banner to hang on the end of our pew, and were given several options of images to place upon it. I of course chose a sheep along with a fish and an open Bible, so it appears my love of sheep goes back a ways.

Tomorrow my friend Kim sings in a choir performing Handel’s Messiah and while I won’t be able to see the performance this year, I will be thinking of my favorite part: “All we like sheep have gone astray.”

“We like sheep,” we like them a lot. Amen.