We buy wool from a co-op of ranchers who believe in respecting the natural rhythms of raising sheep beginning with the following basics:
It's in the best interest of both the sheep and the ranchers to raise the right type of sheep breed that is best suited to thrive on the land in the Pacific Northwest. The goal is to maintain a healthy flock so that medical treatments are rarely needed and preventative care can be limited to only what is essential. By selecting ewes and lambs who thrive on the natural grass, they are also enhancing the health of the sheep and building their resistance to disease.
Provide Good Feed
The health of the soil, grass and water supply all contribute to the well being of the flock. Everything has to balance otherwise it will show in the health of the flock. Field rotation is used to decrease soil erosion and to reduce the risk of sheep acquiring internal parasites. Ranchers consider any illness as an indication that something in their operation is amiss rather than blaming the animals for being sickly. And on the flip side, their good health means that balance has been maintained. A healthy flock is seldom in need of treatment, and even some of the more routine chemical treatments that have become so common-place in raising sheep, can be eliminated.
Gentle Stock Handling Skills
There are three key handling skills based on the natural behavior of sheep – observation, interpretation
and action. Humans come in direct contact with sheep during handling procedures such as shearing, which can be stressful for sheep. Shearers are trained to use gentle handling techniques and to avoid making loud noises which may frighten the sheep. Shearing is done when there is hope of fair weather for the animals. Going from a full thick winter wool coat to almost no coat may cause some initial discomfort, more so if the weather is cold.
We support ranchers who do not use electric devices to control or herd sheep, instead well-trained livestock guardian dogs are used. The use of dogs in managing sheep is an ancient practice and has many benefits such as gathering the animals out on the pasture and guarding the flocks from predators. Other animals such as llamas and donkeys who have developed an affinity for sheep and a willingness to defend the group are also used instead of trapping or shooting predators.
Ensuring Good Health
It is important to us and the ranchers that there is minimal to no use of herbicides and pesticides on the sheep and the fields that they graze on in order to ensure their good health. Alternative pesticides may be used only when necessary in order to keep the sheep healthy and free of infestations and parasites that may otherwise compromise their health.
A mild, non-toxic detergent is used for the scouring (cleaning)of the wool which leaves no detectable residue and is biodegradable. The sweet, earthy or hay-like smell you may detect assures you that our wool is natural and not bleached or treated chemically. We believe the future of our quality of life is tied directly to our ability to protect and enhance our natural environment. In respect to that we strive to use materials that originate from recycled substances, renewable resources and ecologically safe products.