We've returned from our annual wool buying trip to the Navajo Nation. It always takes us a few days to digest the experience, a little time to develop perspective on our time there. This year was a totally new experience, and one we'll not soon forget. For the first time, Peter did not join us. He misses haying on his farm nearly every year for this buy, and he wanted a chance to revel in his retirement and get that hay in while the sun shines. He was dearly missed by the buying crew, and the Navajo folks who remember his jovial spirit and friendly demeanor.
The buy began following a different route this year than previous years. Stanley began by taking wool on commission in Window Rock, a stop usually reserved for the end of the trip. We all met the next day in Crownpoint, New Mexico to begin the rest of the buying. Trucks were in line beginning early in the morning, and we arrived early afternoon. We were greeted by furious winds and dry sand whipping through the parking lot of the Dine College center. We met Stanley, from Mid States Wool Co-op, Teddy and Lynn Varndell, the Mohair buyers and Lisa and Jenn, ever faithful volunteers. We traveled together the entire week, which was a total pleasure.
This year for the first time, we took a day off to go to the Sheep is Life events at the Dine College in Tsaile. We watched a traditional Navajo butchering and learned about the suint cleaning method, which was fascinating. Here is a great tutorial for a very interesting and eco-friendly way to wash your wool! We also learned about traditional weaving structures and meanings, and chatted with several weavers and yarn purveyors selling and demonstrating their skills. It was a very important day for the community, and we were thankful to be a part of it. The following day was the wool buy at the college in Tsail, and the rain came! It was the first time it rained in the area in almost 11 months! We bought wool in the rain, and truly enjoyed the joyous faces of everyone who was thankful for the water. It was a special and uplifting experience.
We also took a special trip into the Canyon De Chelly with our fantastic tour guide Urvin. He usually joins us for the wool buy, and recently got his tour license for the Canyon. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to see and learn about this mesmerizing place where he grew up. We explored ruins and saw petroglyphs, inscribed on canyon walls.
We were joined in Pinon this year by the Black Mesa Water Coalition, who hosted a whole day of educational events, demonstrations, and a raffle. It was a wonderful resource for the shepherds and community to come together and experience everything 'sheepy' that the BMWC had to offer.
At the wool buy we saw beautiful fleeces and bought a new batch of wool for Peace Fleece yarn. We talked with old friends and caught up with many of our growers. The majority of folks had a very difficult year with the extended and harsh drought, and we were glad to see high spirits despite all of their hardship.
Thank you to everyone who supports our work on the reservation by purchasing and creating with Peace Fleece yarn. Without you, this amazing chance to get to know the ranchers and supporters on the reservation would not be possible.