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Farm celebration is shear fascination

Mother-daughter team of Paula Ashworth and Shannon Tinkersley sheared the sheep. Mother-daughter team of Paula Ashworth and Shannon Tinkersley sheared the sheep.

Workers sheared sheep and spun thread out of the fresh wool.

They demonstrated other kinds of weaving and crafts from more than a hundred years ago. People enjoyed bluegrass music and munched on food in perfect 70-degree warmth under blue skies at the Spring Festival at the Historic Johnson Farm.


"It's been great," said Education Foundation board member Marcia Grant as she hosted a ticket table. "People are enjoying the food and the entertainment and all the special things for them to do."

Out on the farm grounds, Paula Ashworth and her daughter Shannon Tinkersley, with help from Erica Woods, sheared a sheep of its thick coat, educating a crowd who gathered to watch. The former bearer of the wool was a Shetland, known as the finest of the English wool breeds.

Up on the porch just above the sheep pen, Judy Tysmans of Apex spun the wool into thread. She pedaled a spinning wheel and gently fed the fresh wool into the wheel as people watched and asked questions.

When she teaches spinning at her Shady Grove farm near Raleigh, she starts with wool, the easiest, and moves on to alpaca, silk and mohair. "We end up with cotton last because that's the hardest," she said. "Very slippery, very short."

Grant estimated as many 3,000 to 4,000 people had visited the festival by mid-afternoon.

In the dining room of the 1880s farm house, believed to be the first brick house built in Henderson County, docent Pamela Singer, an ESL teacher at Bruce Drysdale Elementary School, explained to visitors how Sally Johnson, the mother of Leander and Vernon Johnson, cooked and served three meals a day for boarders, two on Sunday. That room, she said, "was the center of the whole operation" at the Johnson farm.

The bachelor brothers who owned the farm had no heirs. They donated the property to the Henderson County schools when they died.