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A Cut Above: The Upside of Shearing

My husband tried to shear a sheep. Only once. He claims, “It looked like the sheep went through the blender.” This Spring, our sheep will be sheared by a professional; it’s an entertaining event.

The shearer hoists the ewe on her bottom so she’s vertical and rendered helpless, then removes her wool in minutes. A great shearer can keep the fleece whole and takes pride in her craft.

If I ever dare to attempt shearing, I’ll want a great mentor to guide my hands through the process. Someone with experience, a unique and genuine love for sheep, and the art of shearing.

I think we all have a skill, talent, craft, knowledge that makes us little money, but about which we feel that same passion. The question is, can we teach it to someone? Can we hand it down to the next generation, share across to our friends, or even up to our parents and grandparents?

When my 82-year-old mother visited me, she brought multiple copies of a special family recipe and invited my friends over to learn to make homemade English muffins. Not only did our group appreciate picking up a new skill, we loved the warm fellowship, and enjoyed eating the hot muffins just off the griddle, spread with butter and Mom’s homemade raspberry jam.

I’ve baked bread, but recently learned new twists when volunteering in a church kitchen for a fundraiser. I imitated what I saw. Dumping ten cups of flour into a huge bowl, I formed a deep well in the middle which I filled with yeast, sugar, salt and warm water. I waited as the yeasty center bubbled. To stir the mixture with my bare hands instead of a mixer or a bread machine was satisfying. I folded and kneaded the dough, turning it out onto the counter, all the while chattering with the other women in the church kitchen.

That’s just why my Aunt Lydia Harris wrote In the Kitchen with Grandma: Stirring Up Tasty Memories Together. Her book was inspired by her love for cooking with her grandchildren and passing along stories and truths. How many of us have something like that to share?

Perhaps instead of a book group, form a club where each member teaches a skill: quilting, spinning wool, crocheting, knitting, gardening, cooking, candy making, the ukulele, cake decorating, quilting, drawing, or painting. Reach out and teach others; reach out and ask to be taught. There is connection in sharing and giving and it’s richer than just reading watching DIY on the internet all by yourself. And the collective talents will be a cut above!

What would I love to learn? Drawing. I look forward to learning how to sketch something better than a stick figure that doesn’t even pass in Pictionary. How about you? What could you teach or learn?

C 2020 Ann Marie Stewart All rights reserved Author of award-winning STARS IN THE GRASS

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