One of the cool things about raising endangered heritage breeds, is that you not only end up with some of the rarest animals in the world, but you also get some of the rarest fibers. San Clemente Island goats are currently being tested for their cashmere use, and our own little herd have their samples sent off for testing today!
Soay sheep, however, are already known in the fiber world and their wool is enjoyed by everyone we have spoken to that have experience with it. One spinner* described it as "a blast to spin" and said "It spun well and has a nice bounce to it." Medieval reenactors enjoy it because it is the closest thing we have to the historical wool of that time period and has a very different texture to modern day wool.
What is very neat, is that we know from exactly which individual sheep each bag of our wool comes from. We hand-roo it from each ewe in the spring when they start to shed. Therefore the awesome mix of colors you get is still from a single ewe!
So this spring we have decided to make your wool purchases a little more personal and hopefully, fun. Beginning in May, we will be offering "Woolly Tales." Each bag of wool will come with a card that includes the name of the ewe and a picture, and a little story about something that happened with/to her in the past year. These might be funny stories, something about their birthing that year or some other details that we think you might find fun!
Since Soay are tiny, and we usually get only one bag per ewe, each bag will be unique each year. Any leftovers will go into a "mix" bag. All wool is sold raw and unwashed, though we do try to pick out the worst of the hay - especially since one of our ewes likes to roll over while we roo her!
Woolly Tales will be available through our web site, at our homestead and in person at our events as long as supplies last. We hope in this way we can provide a little more information about this tiny, endangered breeds and give each of you the chance to get to know your own wool on a personal level.
*thanks to Kris Mccosh for reviewing our wool for us!