Fred (the sheep) has Passed
Every year, the whole crew from FiberWild takes a field trip to Suzy the Shepherdess's farm to visit her sheep and play with the lambs. One of the highlights of the trip is visiting with Old Fred (the sheep), so we were all very sad to hear of Fred's passing. The following is Suzy's tribute to our old friend ...
Sheep don't hug or hold hands, but they do show affection by standing very close to their mother, leaning against her. Fred did the same to me, which made him very difficult to photograph! Here I'm pushing him back with one hand while taking a photo with the other (2005).
As a rule, sheep don't like traveling. But there is an exception to every rule!
Named "Frederich" in honor of his German (East Friesian) heritage, Fred the Sheep was born in 2004 and was bottle raised by me.
Normally, bottle babies are a mess. Either the mother or the lamb is weak, and the lamb is left with "replacer" - a powdered "just add water" fake sheep milk that is simply not as good as the real stuff. But Fred's mother, Fritzi Girl, was in good health and had simply rejected him. She was an East Friesian sheep - a "milking breed" that is usually milked like a dairy cow and used to make cheese (most commonly Roquefort, but there are many other sheep cheeses as well). I was able to milk Fritzi Girl and then feed Fred the real milk, so he grew up strong and healthy.
When selling my yarn at local markets, I'm always surprised at how many visitors to my booth don't really understand what wool is and where it comes from. I had been thinking about training a lamb to travel and be my "spokes-lamb," promoting wool. During the bottle feeding process Fred had bonded to me and soon believed that I was his mother - he seemed the perfect candidate to travel.
Once I made the decision for Fred to travel, I started getting wacky. While giving him his bottle and halter training him, I'd dance, sing, screech, poke at him, and generally make a nuisance of myself - all the while hoping that none of my neighbors stopped by for a surprise visit! The result is that very little flustered Freddy. I was pleased to note that while the militia was firing their muskets at a living history event at the Apple River Fort, humans were startled when the guns fired - but Fred remained perfectly calm!
With his very own dog crate in the back of my van, Fred traveled to events in and near Stockton, Illinois. He was a regular each Saturday while I sold yarn at the Stockton Farmer's Market.
At events I would set up a small pen next to my table and visitors were encouraged to pet Fred and ask questions about sheep and wool. He enjoyed the attention and special treats, made many friends, and probably thought each event was held in his honor!
Me shearing Fred with hand shears at the Apple River Fort (March 2007).
Fred was best known for volunteering at the Apple River Fort in Elizabeth, Illinois, a reconstruction of a fort built in 1832 in fear of Black Hawk and his warriors. For many years Fred was the star attraction at the Fort's "Cabin Fever Jubilee" event each spring, where we demonstrated 1830s springtime chores. I sheared him with the hand shears while I was wearing a dress, multiple petticoats, and 1830s stays! Needless to say, it was a challenge! His wool looked like a pale brown, but underneath the "summer highlights" he was a deep gray - a very nice color!
My 2-year-old daughter Evelyn feeding Fred (June 2012).
When my first human baby was born in 2010 Fred retired. He had enjoyed six years of touring and was ready to spend his weekends in the pasture with the other sheep instead of on-the-road.
When my children were toddlers I used to fence in an area behind my tent to give them a safe play area while I sold my yarn - many of my long-time customers recognized that I was using the old Fred-Fence to corral my children!
Fred aged gracefully and was healthy and strong up until just shortly before his demise. The average lifespan for a sheep is 10 years. Fred made it 13 years - a good run for a good sheep! -Suzy the Shepherdess -