Maryland Sheep and Wool and Harley Davidson visits.

17 May

After our busy and exciting few days in Washington DC we returned to Codorus State Park near Hanover in PA. It has been a hope of mine for a long while that we would find ourselves in the right place at the right time to visit one of the sheep and wool festivals which take place throughout the year in various States. The biggest and reputedly best of them all is Maryland Sheep and Wool, always the first week end in May and from Codorus an easy 60 mile day trip.

Rather than take haRVey we decided to hire a car for the week-end, thinking it would be simpler to park. The festival takes place both Saturday and Sunday but we had been advised Saturday is very busy so opted for a Sunday visit. Sunday morning was bright but cool, the forecast was for a part cloudy day, mid 70’s (F) ideal! We set out around 8.30am enjoying the rural landscape as we drove south from Pennsylvania into Maryland.

On arrival we were martialed into a parking spot on a field above the Howard County Fairground where the festival was being held. A short walk bought us to the entrance and first booths, an immediate feast for my eyes….

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From the outdoor booths to the barns we walked around taking in the array of colour and items displayed by small scale yarn produces and other associated crafts people.

In an outdoor tented area several groups were gathered taking part in a sheep to shawl competition. The yarn is carded, spun, and woven into a shawl before being judged on its various attributes. This is not a competition undertaken by old ladies with spinning wheels as some may think, one group consisted of young  people who I would estimate ranged from 9 to 17 and they were very competent too.

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A memorable overheard conversation was between a Mum and her son ( we estimate he was around 8 or 9) they were choosing some fleece at one of the stands,

Mom to Son :- “You like that one? Shall we get it then?”

Son to Mom :-  “OK, so will I spin it and you knit, or, you spin and I knit it?”

We did not here the outcome but were very impressed which ever way they chose!

So spinning, weaving, knitting, what about the sheep? There were several barns with pens of rare and not so rare breeds all spruced up to show off at their best and hopefully win awards. As the day was growing warm the barns were getting a little fragrant so we decided to view from a distance. We stood on a small hill above the stage where the shearing competition was being held and marvelled at how placid the sheep were in the expert hands of the shearers. It seemed to me that from the first handling the shearer took control by firmly grabbing the sheep and unceremoniously turning it upside down showing who was boss.

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The job was soon completed, using hand shears, the shorn animal returned to the pen, the next one brought out, the process continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By this time a few more people had arrived and the main hall was busy but not so much that you could not easily get to see the items for sale at any booth. We stopped just inside the door listening to a lady who was answering questions about how to use a drop spindle. She was using a spindle made from two CD’s and a piece of dowel, I have been interested from a distance for a while in spinning but avoiding getting too interested in case I might find myself enticed into another hobby… but it couldn’t hurt to listen and be a little more educated on the subject. The person who was originally asking questions moved on and I asked a couple of my own, which began another conversation, due to the English accent giving us away as ‘not local’! This culminated in my being gifted the demonstration spindle with the instruction to take it on my travels and see what I could do! I was flabbergasted and quite overcome with pleasure at such a generous gift from Pat@Bullenswullens.com  (Thank you, I am practicing and having fun)

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We stopped to chat to our friends Carol and Ron at The Mannings booth, arranging to meet up with them again before we left Codorus on Wednesday. I managed to purchase yarn as per my rule of something I need, something I want and an impulse buy!

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Now I am looking forward to knitting it too!

So Sunday was my treat, appropriate as it was Mothers day in the US too. Monday was to be Roberts treat. We drove over to York PA to visit the Harley Davidson Factory.

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We arrived with just enough time to browse the exhibition area before our factory tour. A short film gave us the potted history of the company then we were kitted with safety goggles and a radio headphone set.

I was surprised how much of the factory we actually got to see, much of the present assembly line is being moved to a new building to be opened later this year. We observed as the frames of the bikes came down the conveyor, each had a  computer generated tag with bar coding detailing the type of bike it should be when completed. They were then processed along an assembly line moving at 6ft per minute, not as fast as it sounds. The various parts required were fitted to the bike before it moved on to the next work station.

We stood in close proximity to the test area where the bikes were roll tested up to 85mph. We were told this job is coveted, but only those with long service and the correct abilities get into the team.

Towards the end of our tour we were taken through the oldest part of the building formally a munitions factory dating from the 1930’s. In the York assembly plant this was the first place the bikes were mass produced. All this could soon be demolished when the move to the new building takes place. I have a feeling it may be saved for historical reasons.

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I think I could manage to sit in a sidecar, however they are being discontinued in favour of the more popular 3 wheel bike on the right.

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An assortment of bikes on display in the exhibition area. Unfortunately no photos were allowed in the factory.

Our time in this southern part of Pennsylvania came to a close with another lovely evening chatting with Carol and Ron, that is after Ron came to our rescue by taking us to a local ironmongers to purchase a new bolt for our large slide out on haRVey which decided to fail. Thankfully this was one failure which was cheap and easily fixed (48 cents and 45 minutes crawling under the slide by Robert!).

The green rolling hills and rural countryside around Gettysburg, Hanover and East Berlin will be the image I bring back when I think of our time here, we have been surprised and pleased with the places we have visited through Maryland and Pennsylvania, hopefully as we venture further north and into the higher areas we will be just as pleased.

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