Today was even warmer than yesterday. And it was the day for Wool Grading 2017 – Hebrideans. Yes, black is the new white!
Credit is due to photo-phobic J : he pulled on shades and hat and set to work : but no shorts and sleeveless tops for him!
I did wonder, though, whether there was some kind of hidden agenda : there was a constant stream of comments, from happy-sounding mumblings to gasps of astonishment, all on the theme of these being the best Hebridean fleeces we’d ever produced, the best Hebridean fleeces he’d ever seen, the best quality of fleece known to man, and general expressions of heartfelt gratitude and admiration for the person who had wielded hand-shears with such skill and discretion.
Jonathan sorting Hebridean wool.
Denise checking the sky for signs of rain. None. Thought not!
Hah! – only joking! To be fair – and strictly accurate, he did mention, a few times, that he thought this was indeed our best ever clip from our own Hebridean sheep. And, for the record, I think he’s right: Quantity up ; Quality up ; No secondary-cuts at all … I have to say they really are something to take a wee bit of satisfaction in.
Anyway, he seemed to be doing a good job : so, as yesterday’s stint with the Cheviots was mine alone, I decided to take some time out and watch the sky in case any alto-cirrus drifted by. It didn’t.
Tabatha was enjoying the shade under the grading-bench. The two of us exchanged smiles: a purrfect day.
Denise > I went to the guest bedroom to fetch something or other, and when I went back – just a few moments later – to return it, I found a cat on the counterpane – Princess Pickle ensconced on the royal bed, like a Tudor monarch for an audience with the Privy Council!
My photo didn’t catch her expression when I first saw her: it said, “Oh, do let me stay here a little while!”.
But we didn’t.
Now, hours later, Pickle’s outside in the garden at dusk, still punishing us for the affront to her dignity of being turned out of the guest room. She’s hiding somewhere amongst the bushes, refusing to acknowledge our calls, or the rattle of her favourite biscuits in her special bowl (she can tell the difference!!) and making us worry about her staying out all night. “That’ll teach them”, she’s thinking : spitefulness, J says, is a trait of advanced intelligence. That’s something Pickle’s only ever actually done twice in nine years – so she’ll probably come in anyway, when J comes back from his bedtime walk with Tilly.
It’s that time of year again. The wool is piling up, and the point comes where, if we’re not to be overwhelmed by the stuff, sorting the great and the good from the condemned-to-the-compost-heap has to start here and now. Here’s Denise sorting and grading the Cheviot coming in from an Eriskay neighbour. She has the skills at her fingertips! I merely set up the make-shift grading table, and do all the heavy lifting. And supply long cold drinks. It’s a warm day for warm work : mid 20s in the shade, and here at the front of the house is a south-facing sun-trap. But D likes it hot!
Wool ready at start of day, waiting for the skilled grader to arrive.
Denise grading Cheviot wool supplied by a crofting neighbour. Tilly and Tom helpinig!
Denise grading Cheviot wool supplied by a crofting neighbour.