Thursday, April 19, 2012

Who knew a rooster could be so friendly...

Petting the miniature horse.
Last weekend, my daughters and and I enjoyed the Sheep to Shawl event at the Atlanta History Center. During a prior visit to the museum, one of the docents convinced me that it would be a great event for the family but I had no idea what to REALLY expect. I had no idea how hands-on the event would truly be. I really enjoyed myself! Makenzie took a few of the items that she made to school to show her classmates. The event is only once a year, so mark your calendars for next time.

She didn't want to just pet the rooster she wanted to hold it!  
Since we are members, we had the opportunity to preview the petting zoo earlier than others, which was cool. As we walked through the petting zoo, in my mind I had already guessed which animals both of my girls would be excited about independently based on their personalities. For Payton, I knew she would enjoy the miniature pony and the rooster. Makenzie is a big fan of rabbits and cows, that is exactly where she spent most of her time. Mak would love a pet rabbit but our dog, Coco Chanel, is too territorial for another pet to come into our home. After all we have had Coco for almost 9 years and I can respect that.

The wool was very smelly!
After enjoying the petting zoo, we moved on the main event... the sheep shearing. The whole purpose of the exhibition is to learn how about all the steps involved from cultivating the wool from the sheep and the by-products of the wool on a plantation. So we gather around the barn to watch the shearing of the wool from the sheep. I have a new respect for my wool clothing items. The process is very labor intensive. The farmer sheared the sheep then he passed out the wool to the children in the audience. At this point, we took the wool to washing and carding station where we met women dressed in clothing from the 1890's. Remainder: the wool is fresh off the back of a live sheep. Translation: this stuff is smelly! There were several basins to wash, rinse and card the wool.

Payton carding the wool.
Carding the wool involves two large brushes that we used to soften the wool and remove any matting and twigs. Then from there the wool is spun using a spindle. We didn't actually do the spinning but the was a demonstation of how it is done. The final fibers can either be dyed to whatever color and then used by the lady of the house to create a shawl, towels or blankets.

One candle after 9 dunks in wax and water.
The girls also had an opportunity to enjoy making pottery and candles. Let me talk a little about the whole candle making process.... So considering that there wasn't electricity during this time, plantation families had to make their own candles using animal fat. The docent tells the crowd before we make our own candles that the family would make all the candles that they needed for the YEAR in ONE day! That figures roughly includes 400 candles so that is just about 1 candle or so per day. Here is the punchline, to create one candle, the wick has to dipped in the wax and water 400 times. Huh?! My girls only dunked their candles in the wax and then water a total of 9 times and they were worked up because the candles was as thin as PJ's pinky finger. Thank you Edison and I won't complain about the GA Power rate hike again.

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