A Zero-Waste Wool Mill!

Harnessing The Sun!

Once the wool has gone through the entire wash process, it goes to the greenhouse to dry.  My drying racks are next on the to do list.  I've been waiting for the picker to get put in before I do the drying racks.  For now I just lay the wool out on tables with old sheets covering the tables.  It takes a bit longer without air circulation, but that's ok.  Even in cold temperatures in Montana, the wool will dry quickly inside the greenhouse.  We get a lot of sun here and it's often quite comfortable in the greenhouse when it's cold right outside.  I have also been using my son's shop lately because of the work going on in the greenhouse.  We had to lay a concrete bed for the picker to sit on.  I am still waiting for the picker to get hooked up to electricity.  Did I mention this project is a lesson in patience for me?  For us all, really, but some of us take the test easier than others!   The picker has been here almost 2 months.  Hurry up and wait is my mantra with this entire project.  It just doesn't pay to get in a hurry.  The subs will push you to get something done, like being pecked to death by a chicken, but they certainly won't be pushed themselves.  I have had to remind several people at various times that this is "our" project, not theirs.  They are getting paid, just do the work!  When you are totally at the mercy of other people, you wait.  And wait.  And wait.  You learn to improvise.  You get creative with planning your work day around fiber that easy to pick by hand, fiber "in waiting" that's already been picked and what comes first in the rotation here.  It's a juggling act.  

It feels really good to be utilizing the sun for the electricity to run the machines, to heat the water to wash the wool and to dry the wool.  Of all of the workers we subbed out on this project, the solar contractors have by far been the best to work with. 

Orion and his crew at Onsite Energy have been second-to-none!  There were times when he would send an email just as an update at the exact time I needed a nudge, reminder or update.  I felt like I didn't need to think about things, they took care of it all for me. 

The solar thermal guys are out of Alder, MT.  Wayne from Baker Light Industries and his helper, Shane, are problem solvers extraordinaire!  The can trouble-shoot just about ANY issue and make suggestions and even help with the problem.  I'm not just talking solar either.  They are a very capable pair and do what they say they are going to do.  They get it done.  There's no website to share, but if you put the name in your search box, all of the info pops up.  I called them Wayne and Shane, The Sunshine Boys but Baker Light Industries is the business name.  

Washed and dried with the sun, now to pick the wool.  It opens up the fibers and makes the carder's job a lot easier.  Since I have been doing some of this by hand, I have a new appreciation for the picker and I can't wait to fire it up!  

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