If you're in Ottawa and looking for a great activity to do with your kids this long weekend, head to the Canadian Agriculture Museum. This weekend, they are hosting their annual Sheep Shearing Festival.
And it's SUUUPER fun.
I happened to read about this event several weeks ago, so call ahead and reserved a place for our homeschool group. All in, there were fifty of us! I'm always anxious when I plan something like this that everyone have a good time. I feel responsible.
Luckily, there's no way you could NOT have fun at this event. And since a picture tells a thousand words -and since I might have taken a few hundred pictures yesterday - I'll let them do (most of the) talking.
Did you ever think those huge Clydesdale horses could be cute?? How about now?!!
you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours
There are several events that are scheduled throughout the day. A sheep herding demonstration, a dog agility competition and the actual sheep shearing. We started with the sheep herding.
These dogs really are something else! The shepherd training them does a great job explaining the process and puts several dogs through their paces, both older experienced dogs and younger pups "who like to floss their teeth with wool". And he explains everything in a delightful german (I think) accent that seems to somehow lend credibility to what he's saying. Or so I thought.
All the kids we were with -from 14 years old down to 16 months- LOVED it. They had a bit of trouble hearing some of what the shepherd was saying, but were spellbound watching the dogs at work.
From there, we walked a short distance to where the agility competition was being held. Just before it started, one of the trainers brought her dog around for the kids to pet. They were smitten. As you can imagine, this event was hugely fun for the kids to watch, and the dogs put on a great show.
Although there are plenty of tables and tents set up inside the museum grounds, our group was too large, so we headed back out to the parking lot and found some nearby shade to sit in while we ate. There is a small (read: VERY small) concession stand there inside the museum, but it looked pretty limited to snack-type food... other than the lemonade (think fair ground lemonade... yum).
yes, they're all wearing Star Wars shirts
The actual sheep shearing is held every 30 minutes. I was at the tail end of our group, so got there too late to pull out my camera and get pictures of the actual shearing, but here's the end result. I think she said that each sheep produces about 4 lbs of wool (at least that's what I'm going to go with since she's holding up four fingers *grin*) and that all that wool -ALL THAT WOOL- sells for only $1.20.
You read that right. One dollar and twenty cents. Remind me not to go into sheep farming.
Don't they look a bit ashamed? Although I'm sure they put up with the humiliation in order to be free of all that hot, scraggly, stinking fleece.
they are kind of cute
From there, they kids went outside, grabbed a ball of (freshly washed and carded) wool that they were then able to dye their choice of colours. They younger kids just played in the soapy water!
Scattered throughout the farm, in various buildings, are crafts and hands-on activities for the kids. Just passed the (new and very cool) bee exhibit, the kids got to try their hands at carding wool. Not as easy as it looks for those with still-developping hand-eye coordination, but everyone still enjoyed it. My three-year old (pictured below in the navy) wanted to take his brushes home. While he had to leave them there "for other little kids to use", he did get to take his little ball of soft, clean, freshly carded wool home with him.
Although I only got one picture of this next activity, it was my favourite of the day. The kids each got to pick a colour of wool roving to use to turn into a felt bracelet. Simon chose orange (without only a bit of encouragement from his orange-loving mama), and Liam chose a dark blue/teal colour. Liam is not one to accessorize, so he insists that his is a snake. Simon wore his bracelet for a few hours... then gave it to me. Woohoo!
The Museum of Agriculture is open from 9am til 5pm, but the sheep shearing activities only run from 10am until 2:30pm. After getting our fill of sheepy, wooly goodness, we stopped by to play on the tractors...
...and visited the milking barns...
...where we stopped to ooh and ahh over this little slice of adorable...
...and a final play at the park before taking our gang of fun-filled, sun-kissed (note, wear sunscreen since it's almost all outside), slightly tired and cranky kids home.
And I saved the best for last... pictures of some of the new baby lambs that were out walking around the farm. SO. STINKING. CUTE.
So cute and so soft. Baby hands are just drawn to them. Adult hands too. Getting up close and personal with these sweet, snowy, fleece babes is alone worth the price of admission!
The Sheep Shearing Festival runs all weekend, including the holiday Monday. If you go, come back and leave a comment and tell us what you thought.