A Zero-Waste Wool Mill!

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full!

Your wool is now sitting and waiting to be processed.  If you have 300 sheep, that's a lot of wool.  Even if you have 30 sheep, that's a lot of wool.  Fleeces can weigh anywhere from 2 to 10 lbs and up!  It's no wonder the big producers sell it off in huge bales to big companies.  Back in the day there was a wool pool in this county where people pooled their wool together and shipped it off on a certain day.  This often took place near a railroad dock because it was shipped off by rail.  I recall going by the long lines of sheep producers waiting to drop off their wool.  It would be weighed and samples taken from the bales.  Any sign of dark fiber and you would be docked in price.  Dark fibers don't take dye and the mills don't want that.  That is why "black" wool was just discarded at waste during shearing.  It actually cost you money because you would be docked for it.  

There's a great article here about wool pools in Montana if you care to read a little more about the history.  

So imagine this greenhorn, almost 30 years ago, raising a very non-traditional breed of sheep and not knowing what to do with my wool except what was tradition.  My sheep are small so in turn, my fleeces and lambs are small.  That means my carcass weights of my lambs are small too, but that's another story for another day.  I signed up for the wool pool not knowing it was like a 10 year commitment or some crazy thing like that.  I maybe had 10 sheep at the time.  Their fleeces weighed about 2 lbs each.  We are not talking about a lot of wool here, but the head of the wool pool didn't know that.  I think I may have sold my wool once to the wool pool.  Remember, wool is a commodity.  It's traded on the open market.  Check your market listings for the week and you will see wool there with other agricultural products.  What this means is that the price you are paid for your wool in the wool pool can vary greatly.  You never know going in.  Again, sheep are very versatile animals.  They give us meat, milk, wool and lanolin.  Lucky for the sheep producer they have their lamb sales to fall back on if the wool prices are not good and vice versa.  So back to that 10 year commitment.  I got a phone call from a very upset old codger reprimanding me for not bringing my wool in.  He went on and on about how I was basically bringing the whole pool down because I hadn't fulfilled my commitment.  When I explained that my husband was the one to deliver the wool the year prior and was asked to sign his name, he was not told anything of this "contract", the old codger didn't care.  I am telling you, this guy was not nice on the phone.  I then told him my fleeces weigh about 2 lbs ea and I had 10 sheep.  He went silent.  I said, "Is my 20 lbs of wool really going to affect your wool pool?"  He then agreed to let me out of a contract I never signed and I vowed to never take my wool there again.  So what to do?  

Stay tuned!  

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