By no means least, its the turn of our incredible woolly contributers Louise Spong, Emma Ross and Paula Wolton and resident Team Wovember Photographer, Jeni Reid. Here they all are to tell us what they’ve enjoyed most about Wovember this year. We would like to take further opportunity to thank them, so heartily, for their enthusiasm, support and contribution to our proceedings this year.
My favourite article on the Wovember blog has been ‘Sweaters that talk back’ – I do not consider myself to be someone who wears my heart or my politics on my sleeve, as you might say. Although I hope that how I choose to live my life shows rather than tells the story of what is important to me. When I read the title of this post I involuntarily recoiled a little from it. How good it is to challenge one’s own prejudices! I was drawn into the beautiful images of Lisa Anne Auerbach that were so welcoming and joyful. I am absolutely on board with reappropriating, reimagining and recreating, a for the body as billboard? The personal is political. Watch out for a slogan inspired jumper from me.
Where to start? So many diverse posts – rich in knowledge, experiences, learning, wealth-of-health, sheep/wool/& fibre buddies, sharing and healing, growing and learning. I could easily go on…. Most posts need a second read, a third and a fourth. To be there to dip into when there’s an obscure thought flickering around the mind that needs to be drawn out and born. So much. It’s difficult. Therefore I’m going to pick one that gave me a totally unprepared for reaction.
I was listening to the fabulous Rapping Shearer aka Adam McClure – a big grin on my face – when I was taken back to 2001 and FMD. Our farm was the only one that survived in a five miles radius. At its peak I had four vast pyres burning around me. The smell. The sight. The ash falling. The silence. Burned into my mind forever. I escaped the contiguous cull by a matter of twenty four hours.
I was completely alone on the farm for months. Robert was working in the New Forest at the time so was unable, not allowed, home. My eldest sons were away at various universities, jobs etc and again weren’t permitted home. The youngest had to board-away for fear of contaminating other farmer’s children.
As the icy February turned into wet spring and then an early humid summer the laws changed for those of us who’d ‘escaped’. We were not allowed any contractors onto the farm who had been on class A farms (the majority around here). It was forbidden to move any of our animals. We were under total lock down….so there was nothing for it but for me to shear my sheep.
I am not a shearer. Oh yes, I can dag and crutch and trim, possibly take the wool off the occasional sheep – but not shearer, certainly not a competent shearer for a flock of sheep. Yet I now had to be. Remember this was the time before WiFi, mobile phones, home PCs – impossible to believe but it was! Learning was being explained how to do it over the phone. Needless to say it was a mighty task. I set myself a number of sheep to shear in a day. Six to eight or possibly ten. I was petrified of cutting the sheep, the speed of the combs & cutters, the heat and weight of the hand piece.
How to manage the flowing dance between sheep and shearer? The placing of the hand, the feet, the effortless manipulation? My confidence was nil. But I managed. Exhausted, broken-backed and often in tears – I managed. My hands were in shreds – as I chose to sacrifice them rather than the sheep. I sung, I wept and crooned my way through the flock and came out of it with total admiration for the shearer!
Get on Adam McClure! I love your rap, you and all your ilk……
Oh and my sheep, by the way – were patience personified!