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Saturday, May 03, 2014

For GreenDay, Shear Excitement at Town Farm

By James Lomuscio

It didn’t take much coaxing for the more than 100 persons at Westport’s Wakeman Town Farm today to rally around the corral where the black sheep Cookie was about to get a buzz cut. Image
Sheep shearing was one of the GreenDay attractions today at Westport’s Wakeman Town farm. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

“I recently saw a movie about sheep shearing, so I was interested in seeing it first hand,” said Jo Fuchs-Luscombe as she looked for a spot along the rustic fence, every inch of it taken.

Inside, Christina Wickson, a sixth-generation sheep shearer from Monroe, used one knee and one hand to hold Cookie down. In her other hand was a buzzing electric clipper twice the size of the ones found in barbershops.

“She’s just getting a haircut,” one mother comforted her young girl amid sighs of “poor thing” coming from others.

Wickson began the shearing at Cookie’s neck and then and moved down. Within seconds, it looked as if she were helping Cookie off with her coat, which is literally what happened.

After a few minutes, a pile of black wool lay on the ground. A much thinner, shorn Cookie got up and pranced. The crowd cheered. Wickson said the wool would be sufficient to make one black sweater.

Cream, the farm’s white sheep was next up. Wickson’s father Bill Wickson would do the honors. Cream seemed restless at first, kicking and bucking as Bill Wickson held her by the front hooves, rump on the ground. But Cream settled down once the shearing began. It netted enough white wool for two sweaters, Wickson said.

Mike Aitkenhead, who runs the farm, scooped it up in a plastic bag and said he would give it to a farm neighbor who processes raw wool.

“Our real mission here is education,” said Aitkenhead about the farm open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. today in conjunction with Westport’s GreenDay replete with celebrations throughout town.

In addition to sheep shearing, the event included a farm tour, a garden workshop, and a traditional Maypole dance and drum circle.

Bill Fischer lad the Maypole dance, and his wife Mickey Koth played the fiddle, accompanied by Kendall Alderman on guitar and Lydia Smith on drums.

Another highlight was a smart, solar-powered 12-by-16-foot greenhouse donated by the Westport Woman’s Club and Tauck Tours.

“It runs on solar power, and it has automatic watering, and all the vents are powered to regulate the temperature,” said Aitkenhead.

So if it gets too hot, the windows automatically open, too cold, they close, he said, and the computerized system regulates temperatures as well as watering.

“This has been a great day in Westport,” said First Selectman Jim Marpe who attended with his wife Mary Ellen.

He said his day began early, attending a cleanup of Dead Man’s Brook by students from Staples High School’s Club Green and Builders Beyond Borders.

“Then I was at Earthplace,” he added about the science center that hosted nature walks, pond science and “animal encounters” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“What a glorious day in Westport, and GreenDay, which is all weekend, shows Westport’s dedication to preserving and improving the environment, to sustainable living and to being good stewards of the environment,” Marpe added.


Posted 05/03/14 at 11:07 PM


Comment Policy

Should this be allowed?

Posted by werner liepolt on May 04, 2014 at 01:01 AM | #

Having to hold down the animals with a knee or by its front hooves because it is bucking says it all!!
Janet Beasley

Posted by Janet Beasley on May 04, 2014 at 03:03 PM | #

We at Friends of Animals concur with Janet Beasley who uses common sense when she says that holding a bucking animal with a knee or by its front hooves says it all! It’s no longer the wild, wild west.  Let organic vegetable gardens be celebrated.Animal farms should diminish and disappear when people sympathize with the plight of sheep, cows, chickens, pigs and other animals, bred into existence and later slaughtered for food that we can well avoid with a healthy, plant-based diet.

Posted by priscilla feral on May 07, 2014 at 09:47 PM | #

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