Monday, May 17, 2010

Sheep shearing and wool

The flock was sheared last Thursday, and all of the wool sorted and bagged over the weekend. Thankfully there was no rain. The shearer has a day job as a florist, but in a past life trained as a shearer in New Zealand and Australia. We gather up the sheep, hope for good weather and spend the day catching sheep and rolling up the wool. The sheep go from a rag tag bunch to being slick and cool, just in time for the hot weather. This year some wool will be sold locally to spinners - especially specialty wools like black Romney, California Red, Navajo-Churro, and Jacob. Colours range from white to cream, to oatmeal to black. Textures vary too. Navajo sheep have a coarse outer hair and a dense underlayer, suited for rugs ie navajo rugs. The Romney is long and lustrous, and California Red has red hairs throughout an oatmeal coloured fine wool. The bulk of the wool - about 1000 lb - will go to Carstairs Alberta to be processed into sleeping bags, pillows, comforters and mattress pads, socks, yarn and other products. But lately I have been thinking about the oil spill in Louisiana, where I lived for a while pre-Katrina. A few years ago I saw wool being made into oil boom pads, and I wonder how many of these wool products are being used in the Gulf of Mexico today.

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