One of our customers is learning how to spin wool and recently asked us if we could supply some fleece for her. She brought along the finished skein to the last market for us to have a look at.
That’s it in the picture: bright white and incredibly soft. And it came from our wool!
One of the reasons we started going to the farmers markets was because we didn’t like selling our animals, the lambs and calves we raised, as commodities on the open livestock market. By selling meat directly to our customers we get to have a relationship with the people who consume our meat and care about the way our animals are raised, how we care for the land and what they are putting in their bodies. It’s been hard work but also incredibly rewarding, so we got to thinking can we do the same with the wool?
Australia is one of the largest wool producing countries in the world but we have no secondary wool industry to speak of. If you want fleece spun into wool or made into fibre for cloth, it has to go to China or Italy or somewhere else that still has milling facilities. And if you’re a small producer like us, it’s next to impossible, no one wants to deal with anything less than a container load.
So we’re stuck with selling this unique and beautiful fibre as a commodity. Or are we? There’s got to be someone out there taking wool to the next level in Australia. We’re on the lookout so watch this space.
And if anyone is interested in the story of the Australian wool industry and the 1980s wool crash, Charlie Massy’s book Breaking the Sheep’s Back is a cracker of a read (we have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it).