NHSWGA 2018 Annual Meeting Highlights
Approximately forty members, new and returning, braved the rainy night to attend the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Growers Association Annual Meeting held the evening of October 28th at the Epsom Fire Station.
The meeting kicked off with the annual potluck dinner, a wonderful spread of delicious and varied dishes.
Following the potluck, President Rick Young announced two very special presentations. He himself presented a framed certificate to honor the memory of Jeff Jordan for his many contributions to the Association and the sheep industry, to Jeff’s wife Deb Jordan and daughter Emily Adams. Rick recalled meeting Jeff when he was just a kid while Jeff was shearing his family’s sheep. He emphasized what a tremendous help Jeff has been over the years to so many people in the sheep world. Jeff contributed so much to the Association, serving as president, working tirelessly at the festival, shearing from hither to yon, judging at festival shows, and offering help and advice to farmers and those just getting started with sheep both near and far. Director Jolee Chase then presented Marilyn Johnson with a framed certificate and a wool blanket in honor of her numerous contributions and dedication, over a span of more than forty years, to the Association and to 4-H youth, recounting many of Marilyn’s early experiences with both humor and affection.
Board member Ammy Rice was the evening’s featured speaker. Ammy had attended the American Wool Sheep Grading Certification class at Southern Utah University between February 14th and 18th of 2018.
Ammy’s presentation, both informative and fun, began with details and photos of her trip flying out west for the very first time, an experience fully appreciated by Ammy as she pressed her nose to the window enjoying the unique and varied landscape below.
Following an overview on day one, the ten member class, hailing from a variety of geographical areas, jumped into learning about contamination; crayon, polypropylene, bailing twine, and many other contaminants were examined and discussed.
Participants received a grading kit, with samples of all types of wool, learning to sort and separate fibers into main line, coarse line, shorter line, single line double line, triple line, and more. Classing was a lot of work as the group carefully separated bits and pieces of fibers into what would be their lines. Ammy thoroughly enjoyed the experience of touching seeing, and smelling the varied wools.
Shearing day at the facility was also an eye-opening experience as class members were exposed to differing sheep practices. Seven or so shearers were on hand using mechanical arms. As fleeces were removed from the animal, they were quickly shoved out of the side of the shearing bin. They went right to the skirting table, where the action was high-paced and energetic. The group members had to quickly check the staple length and the feel of the wool, and make their classification. Ammy also described the Utah-style wool press, which quickly bales the wool after which a label is added.
The course finished up with micron testing. Among other things, a micron tester machine graphs the strength, the micron count, and the curvature of the wool. Ammy found this enlightening, and is delighted to have a better idea of what she is actually looking at when examining wool.
Following this fascinating presentation, Ammy fielded numerous questions. In advising association members on maintaining wool quality, Ammy emphasized keeping the moths out, not letting it sit for too long as the wool tends to become dry, poking holes in the trash bags that contain the wool for air flow, avoiding the use of grain bags for wool storage, and removing manure tags. In discussing wool break Ammy noted that this is common with a feed change or in a pregnant ewe. She suggested careful consideration of timing in shearing and feeding. Additional suggestions for wool quality included coating to avoid UV damage, and having a clean floor or surface for shearing.
As part of the presentation, Ammy had on hand many samples of grades of wool including some showing contamination, as well as the many printed resources she had received during the course. All in attendance seemed to enjoy and appreciate the interesting talk, samples and resources, and practical information.
The evening concluded with the business meeting and a chance to mingle and share ideas with new and old members alike. If you did not make it to this year, please consider joining us for next year’s Sheep and Wool Growers Association annual meeting and potluck dinner! Let your voice and ideas be heard! Come to mingle with and learn from your fellow shepherds!