By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Other | Issue: April 2011
Diane spins a shawl at the spinning wheel.
Shepherd’s Cross, an authentic working sheep farm located at 16792 E. 450 Rd. in Claremore, is hosting its annual Woolly Weekend soon. This is a great time to come out and learn about sheep, shepherding, wool and lots more.
The Shepherd’s Cross Woolly Weekend festival is Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30. This is a sheep-to-shawl event: you can watch the sheep be shorn for summer the old-fashioned way, and then see that same wool processed on site as it’s washed, combed, spun and woven into finished products. And if it rains, no worries – all demonstrations will take place in the Shepherd’s Cross Amish-built, gambrel-roofed tour barn, which houses animals, wool processing, the farm museum, and the gift shop.
Shepherd’s Cross is a working farm that maintains between 100 and 200 sheep over 80 acres. It’s also a Christian mission. “My husband Peter and I purchased the farm and moved here about 20 years ago,” says Dr. Diane Dickinson, licensed veterinarian and head shepherd at Shepherd’s Cross. “We began to ask the Lord, ‘What do you want us to do with the land?’ His response was, ‘Feed my sheep.’ It took more than Peter’s three times of hearing ‘Feed my sheep,’ but we finally got it, and here we are.”
Dickinson and Shepherd’s Cross are also involved with Heart of the Shepherd, a public non-profit Christian education and outreach ministry. “I’ve given my life over to teaching, both here and internationally, about the sheep and the shepherd, about Jesus, the Great Shepherd, and how we are the sheep of the pasture,” says Dickinson.
Heather stands by the loom at Shepherd’s Cross.
Woolly Weekend will be an opportunity to learn about Biblical references to sheep, shepherding, and wool processing. “Sheep are just about the only animal that will lay quietly while they’re being shorn,” says Dickinson. “They have a unique, mild nature – they relax in the hands of the shepherd. As Isaiah 53 says about Jesus, he was like a sheep, silent before its shearers.”
Woolly Weekend is also a great opportunity to learn about the entire wool process, from shearing to processing to weaving, Dickinson says. “Woolly Weekend may very well be the only event of its kind in Oklahoma,” she says. “Sheep farming and wool production are decreasing in America now; most wool is imported. You can come and learn the value of wool and the hard work that goes into making wool garments.”
During Woolly Weekend, Shepherd’s Cross’s farm museum will be open, as will the Bible Garden, with both guided and self-guided tours available. The Shepherd’s Shop will offer a variety of woolly and farm-related gifts and items. Demonstrations throughout the day will include wool washing, crocheting, felting, and the use of drop spindles, spinning wheels and looms.
Shepherd’s Cross, which supports sustainable agricultural practices, will also be offering samples of farm-fresh lamb meat raised in Shepherd’s Cross’s own pastures. This meat is 100 percent natural, free-range, and grass-fed. Shepherd’s Cross is also an accredited Agritourism facility, a Made in Oklahoma Company, and a member of the Oklahoma Food Co-Op.
“Woolly Weekend is just a great time to come on out to the farm, step back in time, breathe in the fresh air, and bask in the peace of the shepherd’s lifestyle,” says Dickinson.
Shepherd’s Cross’s Woolly Weekend event is Friday, April 29 and Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free; donations are accepted. For more information, contact Shepherd’s Cross, or visit them on the web at www.shepherdscross.com.