Saturday, July 21, 2018

Alpaca updos and llama tales

This morning I opened Facebook and happened upon this post:

At first glance, one might think this stylistic alpaca shearing is just for fun, not realizing the animals are sheared for their wool like sheep. A post on the Modern Farmer explains: "Alpaca fleece is practically water-repellent and, unlike sheep's wool, lanolin-free and therefore hypoallergenic." Native to South America, alpacas are used as pack animals, and also for their wool.

The photos reminded me of my distant cousin, Dick Snyder, who raised not alpacas, but llamas at his Foster Hill Farm in Milford, Pennsylvania. He told us during my family's 2003 visit that he bred his llamas primarily for their fiber, although he'd also sold some of his stock to farms around the U.S. He said llamas have very distinctive personalities. Also, the males have to be separated from the females except during mating, and are less friendly than the females since they're constantly vying for dominance with each other.

We stopped by Dick's farm in the summertime, but arrived a bit too early for Open Barn Day, a weekend every July when my cousin opened his farm to the public. He was an amazing philanthropist and community builder that way. Dick passed away in the fall of 2014, and I miss his intelligent, generous spirit and sense of humor. While thinking about him this morning I browsed the Internet for Snyder Quality Llamas and came across this Pike County Courier article about Open Barn Day at his farm.

Via the caption on the feature photo, I learned something I hadn't known before: "Lowering your head so the llamas can smell your hair is a way for them to get to know [you]."

Pictured: Dakota Steele. Photo by Anya Tikka

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Hair personality

This hairpisodes blog is subtitled "What we do to hair, what hair does to us" for a reason. Because it goes both ways. We style our hair for what we like and what we think looks good on us, and also as a form of self-expression. Meanwhile, hairstyle "authorities" are out there making claims regarding the impressions our hair makes on others. Generalizations run rampant:
Dark Hair -- You're thoughtful
Red Hair --You're fun-loving
Blonde Hair --You're a man magnet
Gray Hair -- You're confident
(from Reader's Digest, 13 things your hair could reveal about your personality)

Well, that's just silly. Quintessential White People Problems.

Cosmopolitan's article 20 Things Your Hairstyle Says About You is more intriguing, based on author Jean Haner's "studies in 3,000-year-old face reading derived from Chinese medicine."

Image from Book of Research
Wait, face reading? I am so going there. Apparently, Haner is interpolating her hair wisdom in the "20 Things" article from the Chinese ancient practice of Mien Shiang.

"The age-old Taoist practice of Mien Shiang is an art and a science that means literally face (mien) reading (shiang). It is an accurate means of self-discovery, and a great way to help us understand others. As the ancient Taoists said, the face records the past, reflects the present, and forecasts the future." (from The Book of Research)

The Book of Research web site offers a lot of info on Mien Shiang. Next to nothing about hair, though, except for discussion of the hairline (related to socialization) and eyebrows:

6. House of Siblings (Xiongdi Gong) -- Eyebrows and the areas directly above them represent it, and it also oversees your relationship with your friends and colleagues. The state of your hair has a direct connection to the physical conditions of your parents at the time when you were conceived, which means it has a lot to do with your genetic make-ups. Brows that are dark, thick, long, smooth, orderly and located high above eyes indicate a healthy hormone level that gives rise to affection, calmness and courage. If they look sparse, thin, pale, short, or chaotic, or too close to eyes, or marked with a scar, you could be tormented by your own physical or emotional states.
Okay, we're talking rampant generalizations again. But it's got me thinking about the reality of "hair reading," about the human tendency to generalize about a person's personality based in large part on their hair. It is what it is.