I've never been a real "people person". I'm one of those people that are not good in social situations with gobs of people, unless they are people I know. That day I went into the squad room and began my normal routine. The new girl, Vicki, was quite the people person, as it turns out. She was talking. Talking about horses. I perked up my ears. When I asked what kind of riding she did, I was pleasantly surprised to find out she was into dressage, of all things.
Back then not a lot of people knew about dressage. Around here if they weren't into some form of cowboy riding, ie: roping, team penning, etc, the only "English" style riding was what they did at hunter/jumper shows. And any true dressage snob knows the flat classes at hunter/jumpers are not dressage. From that moment on, we were destined to be fast friends.
Her husband is a dairyman, which turned out to be very convenient for me. I've been able to call him and ask questions or just for advice. He is also my friendly hay supplier. His hay costs less than anyone elses' and he delivers to us for the price of a beer or two. I can live with that! When Ophelia was born I called him and they both came out to see her. She was a little hot and he gave us a few suggestions and reassurance. His next comment was regarding her size, "If that had been born on our place we would have euthanized her because she's so small!" Dexters are about the size of adult labrador retrievers when they are born.
Anyway, Vicki didn't last long at the Police Department. Soon she became pregnant with her first and only child and left the Department to care for him. I envied her being able to stay home.
Over the years we've had many adventures together. We've shown our dogs together, competed at many out of town horse shows for combined training events (FUN!), gone camping in the mountains with our families and dogs. We got into sheep together.
One day we were scheming on how to make some "easy" money. She suggested lamas. I remembered my grandmother's and my mother's Persian lamb coats. I talked her into raising Karakul sheep. In the days before the internet we looked through a sheep magazine (I think it was sheep! magazine) and found someone in Virginia that raised Karakuls. I remember we made arrangements to buy a ram and have him shipped to LAX where we would pick him up. I don't remember how we got any ewes, but Vicki managed to get some cross bred ewes.
"Victor", as we named our ram, arrived at LAX very late in the evening. All four of us went to pick him up, Vicki and her husband, me and mine. We had to go to the terminal where cargo was shipped. We found it and presented our identification. Soon they wheeled a long open slatted crate out. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't that. We thought it would be best to leave Victor in the crate, so we loaded him in the truck and drove home.
We brought him to Vicki's house because at that time my husband and I didn't have the proper facilities. We finally got home at about 1:00 in the morning. When we cracked open the crate, Victor hobbled out. He had been forced into a kneeling position in the crate for his entire shipping, so it took some time to get his blood flowing again. While Vicki and I admired his roman nose and curvy horns, our husbands just shook their heads at us.
Victor was good at his job and it didn't take long before the first babies were born. If you are unfamiliar with Persian lamb coats, know they do not shear the lambs. They actually kill and skin the newborns. The wool coats at that age are luxuriously soft. The skins are tanned and the hides are used just like a regular mink coat or something similar.
When I came over to see the first newborns, Vicki and I looked at each other and we knew we could not go through with it. How could anyone do that to these beautiful, helpless little lambs? Certainly not us! We decided there was probably a good market for colored wool for home spinners. Why, we could even learn to spin ourselves, and sell the skeins we made to the specialty knitter's shop(s).
We did learn to spin wool, but we never got as far as actually spinning and selling. Gosh, did you know there's an awful lot of work involved in all that? Washing, carding, spinning--not to mention first shearing, probably the hardest part of all. We hired a young man to shear our sheep and found out it was hardly worth it. We would have paid more if we kept the wool. Since this young man sheared many small flocks he kept what he sheared and sold the wool. That was how he operated. I guess we should have learned to shear, but that was not something we were willing to do then.
After a few years, Victor and his ladies were all sold.
If only I'd listened to Vicki about the lamas!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VICKI!!