What’s sheepy and lives in the jungle?

Greetings colleagues!  As you may recall, last week I shared with you an exciting new letter from Theodosia LaDuke, beginning her Amazonian explorations.  Well, I’m thrilled to share with you some excellent field notes of hers I just found, complete with drawings.  Enjoy!

Field Notes:

Ovis pluvia (Jungle Sheep)

First spotted in amazonian basin June 18th 1884

Initial observations:

These remarkable new creatures are small in stature, measuring 40 centimeters long from tail to muzzle and 30 centimeters tall at mid back. The animals’ hoofed feet appear to be rough on the bottom and slightly split, presumably to help climb into the trees much the same way a mountain goat would scale a cliff side. They have two small horns atop their heads which have rounded nobs on each.

The wool of these beasts is a buttery tan shade with patches of mossy green. The staple length is 6 centimeters and has the most incredible crimp, making this wool top grade. The most notable quality to this wool is that it appears to resist felting. Even once spun up this wool fabric will not felt when exposed to heat and water (presumably this adaptation is to protect the animals in their warm, wet jungle environment.) Fabric made from this extraordinary new fiber has kept me cool and dry. I knit with it continuously and wear nothing else. I simply cannot wait to get this fiber back to the states and into the hands of Miss Miriam Tingley to see how it holds up to cold weather.

These sheep live among the low trees that occupy the river edge. They spend a good part of the day here consuming mostly young vegetation. At night they venture to the ground and sleep in small crevices and hollow logs along the jungle floor, their colored wool acting as a deterrent from large nocturnal predators.

I can only wonder what the Ladies made of her outstanding discovery.  Did any of these fine animals and/or their fleece make it back to the United States?   I should definitely have some of the wool items I have recovered (oh yes – there’s more to come!) analyzed to see if the fiber has any of the distinguishing characteristics mentioned above.  Perhaps it was a well kept Ladies of Mischief secret!  They seem to have quite a few…

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