My favorite part of the Mendocino County Fair was the sheepdog trials.
The rules were as follows: 1 handler and 1 dog have to herd 3 sheep in 5 ways:
- From one end of the field to the other
- Through two fences
- Through a Y-shaped narrow chute
- Into a gated pen.
The dog has the following parameters:
- Can do the following things on command: Lie down (when the dog is lying down, it is more or less invisible to the sheep), walk forward, run forward, run to the left, and run to the right.
- Can run faster than the sheep
- Has about the same cornering agility as the sheep
- Is somewhat less likely to obey when farther away from the handler
- Want to stay together
- Want to walk abreast
- Want to stay away from the dog; will panic if the dog gets too close
- Don't want to go into an enclosed space.
The dog and handler have three chances to get the sheep to go through each obstacle. If the sheep evade them three times, they have to go on to the next obstacle. They also have a time limit for the whole course.
So in the photo below, you can see the dog trying to get the sheep to go through the Y-shaped chute, which was the most challenging obstacle - none of the dogs succeeded in herding the sheep through the chute. (One dog got them backed into the Y part, but they didn't want to turn around and run through the chute when the dog was so near. Eventually one of them tried to attack the dog, so the handler went on to the next obstacle.) This photo also gives a good sense for the size of the field and some of a sense for the size of the crowd (two sets of bleachers were entirely filled).
This photo shows the same handler (the dog isn't visible in the picture) and the sheep near the pen. This dog and handler weren't able to herd the sheep into the pen. About half of the teams were successful in that.
This photo shows one of the successful teams having herded the sheep into the pen.
This photo shows some sheep wearing hoods. I've seen sheep wearing spandex stockings to keep them warm after being sheared, but I've never seen sheep wearing hoods.
This is a photo of the shearing demo. The woman is demonstrating shearing a churro. Her method of holding the animal still (she stuck one of its front legs between her legs) and shearing it by bending over seems like it would work well for a tall thin person like her, but maybe not so well for a differently built person. The churro didn't seem to mind being held like that. Mostly it just sat there.
This is a photo of the blue-ribbon prize-winning fleece in the victory cup.
I didn't take photos of the tattoo booth or the piercing booth ("above the waist only!"). The rest of the fair was pretty similar the the local county fair I've been to, with music, corn dogs and other peculiar-to-fairs food, cheap jewelry and belt buckles for sale, lovely crafts on display but not for sale, nauseating-looking carnival rides, and so forth.
The Wool and Fiber Festival was a barn full of fiber vendors and some spinning wheels for anyone to use. The fiber vendors were selling both yarn and fiber ready to be spun. I haven't yet succumbed to the spinning part, but I bought one skein each of several kinds of yarn: kid mohair, angora, silk/wool, Jacobsen wool, soy, and recycled sari silk.
I'm not sure what I am going to do with one skein each. Maybe make a very odd scarf, or several pillows.
I also bought a whole cone of FoxFibre cotton chenille. FoxFibre is organically grown cotton that grows in colors (pale green or tan). The colors darken when the fiber is boiled. I bought it because I've wanted a FoxFibre garment for a while, but all the outfits selling it seem to assume that all the people interested in organic cotton garments are thin. So I'm going to make my own - probably a tank top.