|Skirting/Prepping Raw Fleeces
We highly recommend that you thoroughly
skirt/prep/clean your raw fleeces before you
send them to us for processing. The advantage
to you is that you will save MONEY!
The prepping of raw fleeces can be the most
time consuming part of preparing raw wool to
be turned into wonderful woolen products for
you, your family & friends or your customers.
But if you take the time yourself to prepare
your raw fleeces before they come to our fiber
mill, the wool will weigh less (because you've
already discarded the un-usable portions) and your
processing costs will be less!
As precious as each of your sheep (or other
fiber animal is), not every fleece is worthy of
processing. Save your money for processing of
your really great fleeces; it's better to
pre-reject a bad fleece and process your good
wool -- it is a better investment of both your
time and your money.
Tips for Shepherds -- how to grow good wool
1). Your cleanest fleeces will be from the wool
that your sheep grow during the grazing
months, when they are on pasture and not
eating out of hay feeders. Plan your shearings
to take advantage of this.
2). Never bed your sheep in wood shavings!
Use clean oat straw, which is better than wheat
straw (but you can use wheat straw if you have to).
3). When feeding hay to sheep, never throw it
over their backs! Use hay feeders that are not
above the sheeps' heads, but rather are lower
than their necks so they do not pull the hay out
on top of each other.
4). Feed enough protein to your sheep and
also make sure they have access to dry, free
choice minerals formulated for sheep. Well fed,
healthy animals produce healthy fleeces!
So what do you do with a really bad fleece?
Wool makes excellent compost and here on
the farm we use it to fill in low areas at
livestock gates during the muddy season. It
also makes an excellent garden mulch. It's also
ok to throw it away!
What exactly is "skirting" a fleece?
Skirting a fleece means that you take the raw fleece
from your sheep and get all of the stuff you don't
want in your wool - out! It can mean a quick once
over or it can be tedious hours and hours of
removing vegetable matter (often referred to as "VM"
which can include hay, straw, grass, twigs, thistles and burdock).
You also will be removing manure "tags" and
muddy, felted urine soaked sections of wool, but
this is usually done quickly.
Why we charge a fee for skirting raw fleeces
Think about this: if you yourself are unwilling to
spend hours picking through a VM loaded
fleece,why do you think somebody would do this
laborious task for free?
If you send me a well skirted raw fleece and I can
immediately wash it and process it for you, it will
save us both time and you will save money - and
your rovings or batts will come back to you quicker.
Some mills have the philosphy of "what goes in is
what comes out" and they will just dump, wash
and card your wool no matter how filthy it is when
you send it to them. The problem with this practice
is that the really bad VM will end up in our carding
cloth, make our machine filthy and if we don't
tediously clean the machine, it will also contaminate
our other customers' wool.
We reserve the right to reject any fleece for
excessive vegetable matter (VM) and will contact
you to let you know why it is being either 1) sent
back to you (at your expense) or 2) discarded (per your
instructions). We want you to save your money for
beautiful rovings and batts that you and your
customers will be proud to own and happy to work
with, so we will not process wool that is