We traveled again this year to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. This year we knew better what to expect. We updated our handouts, packed the car and headed to the Mass Pike on our way to New York. We left a few things until the last minute (naturally).
Our handouts had not yet been printed so we searched for a place to get this done so we could pick them up on the way. We found Wayland Pack And Ship that was just a couple of miles south of our farm and on the way to the pike. We sent our handouts by email, finished packing and headed out. When we got there, we found a very enterprising little operation serving the digital needs of Wayland and surrounding towns. The handouts were still being printed, but it didn’t take long to finish.
Handouts in hand, we resumed our travel and drove uneventfully to Rhinebeck arriving a bit later than we had wanted to. We found Martin and Joy with four of our sheep safely ensconced in their pen in the breed display barn. With Martin and Joy were two of their friends. The six of us made quick work of bringing our material into the the display booth and setting up for the fair’s opening on Saturday.
We returned to the fairgrounds Saturday morning after a good night’s rest. After a little fresh water for the sheep and sprucing up the display a bit we were ready to greet the fair-goers. Many people were interested and we had a good time talking about our project and our sheep.
Our display garnered a nice third place ribbon this year. It helps to know a little better what is expected and to have more time to prepare.
Later in the day many of the pens in the sales barn emptied out so we arranged to move the remaining five sheep from the trailer to one of the now empty pens so Martin and Joy could leave as planned. This led to the discovery that our paperwork was insufficient for transporting the sheep by way of the fairgrounds. Apparently the USDA has been somewhat lax in enforcing the regulations concerning stopovers during transportation. While our paperwork was sufficient for transporting the sheep to their ultimate destination in Massachusetts, it did not permit them to set foot on the ground in New York. We needed a vet to provide the additional documentation and… he was no longer at the fair. Bummer!
Sunday morning found us looking for a vet in the yellow pages. We got lots of suggestions, but they kept taking us to answering machines referring us to vets that did not handle sheep. Fortunately, the festival organizer arranged to bring the vet back on Sunday afternoon so we could properly document our sheep having been in New York.
Sunday saw more fair-goers visiting our display and admiring our sheep. It was very satisfying to see such interest.
When the fair came to a close we picked up our sheep and carried them one-by-one from the breed display barn to the sales barn — a distance of about 100 yards. One advantage of small sheep is that this approach is an option. Then we cleaned out the pen that had been occupied by the sheep and disassembled our display and packed it back into the car.
We drove over to the sales barn to find Tom preparing to load our sheep into his trailer for the trip back to Lincoln. We handed the sheep from the pen to the trailer one-by-one. Unfortunately, I had closed but not pinned the side of the pen holding the sheep. When we got down to one sheep, he was very unhappy to be by himself and decided to leave the pen to join other sheep. He pushed his way through and started running around the barn. Fortunately, he was not so much interested in running away as he was in running to other sheep of which there were many left. He finally ran into an open pen next to pens with other sheep and somebody grabbed him.
With all the sheep in the trailer, we could leave for an uneventful trip back home. Although we did not travel together and stopped for a bite to eat and traveled different routes, we found ourselves directly behind Tom and his trailer after our independent routes merged onto route 27 in Wayland. We weren’t certain of this at first, but we could see the heads of small sheep and knew it was so.
A few minutes later we were unloading sheep into a small pen where they spent the rest of the night. The next morning Ray restored the electric netting around the pen and let the sheep out of the pen.