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Animals in Spring

  • Joan Pollock
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In the spring, usually in April when the snow has melted and the new shoots of grass appear on the hills, the sheep, goats and cows are brought out to graze once more. The sheep are sheered for their wool in April, and after the autumn harvest the women will wash and dry the wool before fluffing it out to dry on the roof in the sun.

From June to September the sheep and goats belonging to the whole village are taken up to the high pastures where they will stay for the whole summer. Each household takes it in turn to mind the animals for a week at a time. They stay in the shepherd’s huts in the high pastures. All the animals are carolled at night to protect them from the snow leopard and wolf.

By December, when all the festivals and parties are over the wool will be spun before being used for weaving shawls or knitting garments and Spiti socks. Spinning wheels are taken from village to village and house to house, where the women get together and spend the whole day taking it turns to spin their wool in between many cups of tea, minding the babies and a good old gossip and also sometimes chanting a mantra or singing the local traditional folk songs.