There’s a sign on the edge of the town where I grew up that says “Where the city meets the country”. That was true when I was a kid. Working farms used to be mixed amongst the homes nestled behind trees. I could climb a tree and drop onto a cow’s back for a thrilling ride across a pasture. I could feed horses hard green apples and listen to illegal migrant workers speaking Mexican in the field.
Sometimes I’m aware that the kind of variety I grew up with is unusual. I was both a city and a country kid. I knew wealthy people and poor people. I got to milk a goat and I got to go to the art museum. It seems like most other people live either by farms or they live by the city, but not both. Considering that I really didn’t know very many people at all, the variety I got to experience seems pretty remarkable.
The farms I knew weren’t like today’s farms. The farms I knew were mostly tax write-offs for the super-rich, or hobby farms for people who felt like dabbling, or a spattering of working farms of a couple hundred acres or less. Raising sheep seems like a luxury. It’s not like they’re eaten very much around here. They’re raised for wool, and since nobody actually needs wool any more, making something from it means you’ve got enough leisure for a hobby, but it’s the kind of hobby that comes from being raised to think you need to do something productive. Knitting for pleasure seems like a middle class kind of activity.
I used to like watching sheep getting sheared. They didn’t seem to enjoy it too much though. Ba-aaaah! I can do an awesome sheep bleat imitation. It’s one of my many skills that seem underappreciated by anyone except small children. I do an awesome cow too.
I have picked burrs out of the wool, carded it, even spun some of it. I didn’t have to do any of it. I was just bored and lonely, and rubbing down a freshly shorn sheep made me laugh. Sometimes I think that all those things I did when I was bored and lonely were gifts that so many other people don’t know they’ve missed. There’s something good and happy about haying a field when you don’t actually have to do it. I was just helping because I could and because I enjoyed laughing with the group.
Sometimes I feel like I should write about things like this because they’re from an era that doesn’t exist anymore. They didn’t even really exist in my own time. I was just lucky to be in a place where time and money allowed my little pocket of the world to exist a little longer than it did anywhere else.
I hooked this rug when I was young. I’ll admit that it’s craft more than art, but I put a lot of time into it, and it is made out of wool. It just seems fair to show it off at least once.