By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: Special Interest | Issue: April 2013
Dr. Diane Dickson demonstrates the authentic way of spinning wool, part of the Shepherd’s Cross Woolly Weekend.
Woolly Weekend, an annual event at Shepherd’s Cross, was born from a desire to teach people about sheep, their value and their products. “People began to ask about the process and wanted to see how we shear sheep,” says Dr. Diane Dickinson, who owns and operates the working farm, along with her husband, Peter. “It started with a few families and the list grew. We didn’t plan to have an event; it just developed out of people’s interest.”
What makes Shepherd’s Cross and the Woolly Weekend “sheep to shawl” event one you don’t want to miss? On this working farm, the sheep, according to Dr. Dickinson, are shorn the old-fashioned way: biblically, historically and globally. “Shearing the sheep is a necessity, as the sheep must be shorn in preparation for the heat of the summer. They would suffer heat prostration as well as other ailments if they were not given a haircut each year,” she says. “In giving the sheep a shearing, the shepherd demonstrates his love for the sheep.”
The family has been raising sheep for over 20 years. Wanting to teach themselves how to shear the old-fashioned way, they started with a book. “We’d look at the book and then the sheep,” she laughs. “It was a rough learning curve.”
According to Dr. Dickinson, very few sheep flocks exist in America today. “There are fewer flocks now than before recorded history in the mid-1800s,” she says. “Most of our sheep products are now imported.”
Maybe that’s what makes their annual Woolly Weekend so special. Beginning Friday, April 26 at 10 a.m. and continuing through Saturday evening, visitors to Shepherd’s Cross will have an opportunity to experience the methods used during Biblical times, which are also historically correct and continue to be used globally in countries where a modern industrialized wool mill does not exist.
A true “sheep to shawl” event means the wool is shorn from the first sheep of the weekend and turned into a shawl by the end of the event. “As far as I know, we host the only authentic ‘sheep to shawl’ event in Oklahoma,” she says. The public will be able to watch as the sheep are shorn and see the wool processed on site – washed, combed, spun and woven into a finished product. The farm museum will also be open with demonstrations of drop spinning, carding, spinning wheels, weaving and other wool fiber arts.
Because Shepherd’s Cross is home to a non-profit Christian organization called Heart of the Shepherd, the event will also include Biblical references to sheep, shepherding and wool processing. “Using Isaiah 53, we interweave the message as we shear the sheep,” she says. “It’s a living parable, and it changes people’s perspective on that scripture.”
In addition to observing the sheep shearing process, visitors can tour the Bible Garden, shop for “woolly” and farm-related gifts and wares in the Shepherd’s Shop, and sample farm-fresh American lamb raised in the pastures at Shepherd’s Cross. Linda Coons, Country Inn Bed and Breakfast and Catering Services, will prepare the lamb samples. “Samples come from our 100 percent natural grass fed lamb meat,” she adds.
Shepherd’s Cross, located north of Claremore and supported in part by the American Lamb Board, is an accredited Agritourism facility, a Made-in-Oklahoma company and a member of the Oklahoma Food Co-op.
Woolly Weekend will proceed even in the case of inclement weather. All demonstrations will take place in the Amish-built barn, which houses some of the animals as well as the wool processing, farm museum and gift shop. Many items are handcrafted by local artisans.
“A sheep is shorn, and the process is repeated about every 30 minutes,” says Dr. Dickinson. “We do encourage groups of 20 or more to call or email us to pre-schedule.”
The event is available free of charge but a donation of $3 per individual is suggested. For more information, visit www.ShepherdsCross.com.
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.