It was seeing the Alpacas when we first got out of the car, then meeting Deb that put me at ease. She helped me figure out what to do with my four bags of wool from Suzy, Socks, Tess, and Zelda. She assured me that the wool was nice and clean and had a good crimp. That it would make good yarn.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was new for Deb too.
She and her husband, who had decided to raise Alpaca’s after retiring from their work in IT, started the mill that same year.
We were both nervous for those first few years. Twice a year I’d drop off my wool and Deb would help me figure out what to do with it. And twice a year, Jon and I would make the drive to Brandon Vermont to pick up the yarn and roving.
Things have changed since that first visit in 2012. Back then it was all business. All we talked was wool.
Now Deb and I are like old friends.
We take care of business, but we also catch up on our visits, talking easily about our animals and life. During the pandemic, Deb set up chairs outside the mill and we visited with our masks on, grateful for the company.
My sheep and wool have changed too.
Tess and Zelda died, but I’m still bringing Suzy and Socks’ wool to the mill. My flock is diverse enough to mix the wool and dye some of it. And as many of you know I started making dryer balls from some of it a couple of years ago.
Yesterday when Jon and I dropped off ten bags of wool at the Mill, I told Deb of my decision not to get any more sheep or lambs. That I wasn’t sure I’d want to be doing this ten years from now.
That’s when she said that her husband, who runs the Alpaca farm and Mill with her, is going to be 80 this year. Neither of them has any plans to stop working.
Deb is ten years older than me and in her, I saw my 68-year-old self. Which didn’t seem much different than my 58-year-old self.
Our circumstances are not the same, but I couldn’t help questioning my decision not to get more sheep.
By the time Jon and I got into Brandon and were sipping cold water at Cafe Provence, (where we have also been having lunch for ten years) I was back to thinking my decision about not getting more sheep was a good one.
But I also know that I don’t know what will happen between now and the time I turn 68.
There’s a little door in my mind when I think about my sheep and I’ve left it open a crack. There’s also a light switch just inside the room it leads to, ready to be turned on if I decide to.