|Linda on a sheep rescue in New Zealand|
|Photographing the sheep rescue|
vicunas were airlifted into Ecudor to grow an economy and reintroduce them to the area. But the area volcano, Throat of Fire, spews ash to Timbarazo and produces an instinctive behavior that does not allow the animals to reproduce. So, the learned lesson is to place animals in an indigenous habitat. The Peruvian government gifted these people with another 89 vicunas, a considerable gift, but the native habitat has still not enabled reproduction nor fiber harvest.
alpacas, the shepherds rotate weekly and in their collective environment they share responsibility for herding and raising their combined flocks. In America, we live in a capitalist culture and are programmed to function and live independently; however, this collective group shows us an alternative and perhaps a better way. The women of this village wear heels and dresses to herd the alpacas.
|Note the cooked Guinea Pig on the table|
Otavalo and the Saturday market is a big fiber destination in Ecudor, and weaving dominates the animal scene more. Cortright goes to peek in on a weaver, Maria, who lives 40 minutes by bus from Otavalo. Everyday, Maria takes her weavings on her back and goes to the daily market. Her husband has made both of her looms. They wake at 4 AM and live in one small room with 7 children in a bed next to her two looms. Her oldest son is in college but comes home to help his mother with her business. Some children create a different lifestyle from their parents. Contrary to what we consider market scenes, when you get to speak with someone like Maria, you get to see and hear what this particular piece of created fiber means to them. You make a purchase and are invited to dinner.
|Saturday at the Animal Market in Otavalo (see pictures in link)|
The regular market, the food market, was a welcomed relief, but her photographer was picpocketed, likely by the two women. Cortright has the photo in her office, and someone who a year later visited her saw the photo and said, “The pickpocketers from Otovallo.”
Cortright purchased sheep shears in Otovalo for someone in New Zealand. Lake Tekapo, NZ, a rustler’s paradise, David Whiteman is a sheep farmer who raises 25,000 sheep. John raises merino sheep. When they bring the sheep down from the mountain, it takes two days and they herd by helicopter. In 2001 there was a band of renegade sheep who eluded muster; David was responsible to clip this band. When they were clipped, they had trouble walking because they lost 1/3 of their of their body weight. Later, they found a small band of remaining renegade sheep and Cortright was invited to attend the muster in the helicopter. When you lease land from the Crown, you must establish certain environmental protocols like opposum control.
To capture the four sheep, the guy jumps down on the sheep, lands, bear hugs the sheep, captures it and flies it via helicopter to safety. 2009 was the International Year of Fiber and was addressing the sustainability of the fiber industry, for whom polar fleece is not your friend. The 4 sheep are put into David’s truck, rescued, and says, “They’re not my sheep.” Eventually, the sheep are returned to their owners.
cashmere goats. Cortright fell in love with cashmere goats when a friend went to visit the Himilayans. She saw photos and years later determined to raise them. One of the things that makes cashmere goats’ fiber so very fine is that they live on very sparse vegetation. Everyone exists at one level of the food chain; either you own the animals, or you harvest the fibers and process them, or you purchase the end product.
Gail's memory lives on with all of us in many ways. She was honored posthumously at GALA 2010 with the naming of the fiber room in her memory. The ladies of the fiber room also weaved and felted a rug that represented the many facets of Gail's life among her friends in the camelid community. The magic carpet was auctioned at the Saturday evening dinner and then given to Lars. Her friends and family miss her, but our community continues to honor her work, her lasting legacy.