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Wool Pool

Hello Hoppy Mountain Friends.

Things are really starting to pick up, so I won't be updating weekly. Although my posts will be fewer and farther between, I will still do my best to keep a record of how we are progressing.

Recently I had the pleasure of joining in on some zoom meetings with local wool producers. There were many challenges discussed, and many ideas tossed about too. I learned so much. For example, did you know that most of the wool produced in New York is sold to and used in the rug industry? Also, on average, for every pound of wool sold, the farmer ends up with only 10 cents! Yet, farmers still sell their wool, as it's better than letting it sit and rot.

Boy, it makes me a little sad that so many people want to make the world more ecologically friendly, and yet they continue to purchase garments made of polyester and other synthetic fibers that are basically plastic. These fibers are produced from non-renewable resources, and will sit in land fills for hundreds of years, unable to decompose.

I wonder what happened - Were we just distracted by new and shiny materials? Perhaps it's just easier on our wallets? Maybe there is a completely different reason.

Natural wool is so much better - it's water repellent, burn resistant, breathable, warm, biodegradable, and extremely versatile. Synthetic fibers are not any of these things - they need extra treatments with harmful chemicals to mimic such properties.

You might say, 'But wool is so itchy' or 'I'm allergic!' - but this is not so! Wool in and of itself doesn't cause the itchy discomfort - it's the oil that is produced by sheep - lanolin - that causes the itchy reaction. We have the technology to remove lanolin from the wool fibers. In fact, lanolin as a byproduct can be used in many different capacities, but that is a discussion for another time.

What about how thick it is? Surely it's too bulky to use all the time? Nonsense! As a hand knitter, I can attest to how fine and thin a 100% wool garment can be. In fact, historical records speak of fine wool shawls created in the Shetland Islands that could be pulled through a wedding band with ease. Try pulling one of your polyester t-shirts through your wedding band and let me know how it goes.

Some people believe that collecting wool from animals is cruel - that it leaves them cold and unprotected. This is untrue. We brush and cut our hair to keep us healthy, and it is no different with sheep, Angora goats, Angora Rabbits, and other wool producing animals. Some wool producing animals shed regularly and in order to keep their coats from matting, the old wool must be removed. Many wool producing animals suffer from skin problems or other health issues if their coats are not sheared. In reality, shearing a wool producing animal is no different than taking your dog to the groomers.

But that's enough for now about natural wool.

The animals are all doing great. Floof has been much more active the last couple of weeks. She's been eating more as well. I will weigh them before we go to the ARBA show at the end of the month - I'm curious to see how much they've grown since last summer.

Our hydroponic greens are going strong. We've been thinking up some ideas of how to expand on what we've started, and have a tentative design in mind. Our first batch of greens are now officially three weeks old and the first adult leaves are beginning to appear.

Soon it will be time to plan out this year's garden layout. There is a lot to look forward to this year. The crop I am most excited about are the raspberries I put in last year. If all goes well they should produce some berries this year! I doubt there will be enough to sell, but hopefully there will be enough of a harvest for our family to enjoy. I also am very much looking forward to growing some flax. I've got some experience with flowers, fruits, and vegetables. However this will be my first attempt at growing a fiber producing plant.

Best Wishes!

~Hoppy Mountain Farm

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