The Benefits of Wool – and it’s many uses

So wool has many uses other than as clothing!!!

Clothing as previously discussed in the first blog post of this title

Carpets

Blankets

Bedding, both blankets and duvets or Baavets (as one company call themselves!!)

Mulch or weed suppressant mats to put round plants. There is also the added benefit of moisture conservation!

Fertiliser. It takes a while to break down, but when you toss wool into the compost pile, it adds beneficial nutrients, including calcium and sodium. It’s about 9% nitrogen, 1% phosphate, and 2% potash, too

Pet wares, horse blankets, saddle cloths, pet beds…

Upholstery the stuffing for chairs etc and the fabrics to cover them

Insulation for homes. It has an excellent R value and also provides an acoustic buffer

Insulation in outer wear coats etc

Uniforms for firefighters as some types like merino have the right properties

Furniture and soft furnishings like cushions

Packing boxes for thermal packaging as an alternative to polystyrene

Bricks. Mixed with seaweed and added to bricks to improve durability and environmental impacts

Lanolin products, salves, balms for all sorts including one of the best for breast feeding mummas!! But lanolin can also be used in cosmetics, lubricants and adhesive tapes!

Cleaning products, especially for soaking up the spills due to its absorbency!

Pianos, woollen felt covers the hammers inside the piano!! It also makes acoustic insulation for machinery!!

The Benefits of Wool – Wearing

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the benefits of wearing and using wool! so I thought it might be a good idea to get some of these thoughts out into a blog post!

Benefits of Wool:

Natural, renewable fibre – Wool comes from sheep and is a renewable source of material! Using wool in clothing is great for the environment and far better than using the synthetic alternatives!!

Wool is a natural protein fibre found on the backs of the millions of sheep you see over the world. It is considered one of the most effective forms of all-weather protection, and man-made fibres with the same properties have yet to be produced.

It’s biodegradable
That’s right, it naturally decomposes into the soil releasing valuable nutrients back into the earth. Compared to synthetic materials, it’s a very quick decomposer too!

It’s renewable
For as long as there’s grass to graze, sheep will grow producing a woolly fleece, a renewable fibre source. And woolgrowers actively work to protect the natural environment, enhancing the sustainability of the wool industry to enable future generations to benefit from this warm natural material.

It’s breathable
As wool fibres are packed together, tiny pockets of air form allowing the material to absorb and release moisture. This could be moisture in the atmosphere, or perspiration from the wearer. This makes wool an extremely breathable material and helps you avoid any clamminess when you head inside from the colder outdoors.

It reacts to your body
Wool is also able to react to any changes in your body temperature. It’s an active fibre that helps you to stay warm when it’s cold and cools you when it’s warm. This makes it the perfect material all throughout the year, helping you minimise your wardrobe and maximise the sustainability of your closet!

Wool keeps you dry. Wool fibres wick moisture away from your skin and can absorb around 30% of their weight before you feel wet. This moisture is then released from the fabric through evaporation.

It’s static resistant
As wool can absorb moisture from your body or the surrounding air, it rarely creates static electricity like synthetic fibres do, keeping you cosy and comfortable and avoiding any awkward clinging.

It’s easy to clean
As its primary function is to protect the body of a sheep to the surrounding environment, wool fibres have a natural protective outer layer. This helps to prevent any marks or stains from being absorbed, so the dirt sits of the surface and is easily removed.

It’s anti-wrinkle
Each wool fibre is structured much like a coiled string, allowing it to return to its natural shape after being bent, so woollen items tend not to crease or wrinkle. This makes them the perfect addition to you everyday bag or great items to pack when you’re going on holiday.

It’s odour-resistant
As wool can absorb the moisture from your skin, and therefore the sweat when you perspire, wool can even help to absorb any odour from sweating that is only released upon washing. So wool clothing is great for layering up in post-workout when you need to brave the cooler air outside.

Wool doesn’t stink! Wool products are also highly odor resistant due to natural, anti-microbial properties that don’t allow bacteria to bind and subsequently grow on the fibres in the fabric.

It’s eco-friendly – wool has eco credentials! It’s a natural, renewable product that biodegrades much quicker than synthetic fabrics. It’s got a long lifespan and is frequently and easily recycled and reused. It is also a carbon store; pure organic carbon makes up 50% of the weight of wool. And research is now investigating the health and wellbeing benefits of wool. Wool bedding and sleepwear has been associated with a better night’s sleep, promoting sleep onset and improving sleep efficiency. Merino wool has also been found to help people that suffer from chronic skin conditions, despite misconceptions of it being “itchy”, due to its moisture and temperature management qualities.

Warm even when wet. When fibres absorb moisture, they also release small amounts of heat, which can help you stay warm on a cool, wet day.

High warmth to weight ratio. A wool shirt is significantly warmer than a synthetic shirt of the same fabric weight.

Soft skin feel, not itchy. Wool fibres are often treated to reduce the prominence of natural scales, which cause the rough, itchy feel of old wool products. This increases the carbon footprint of the wool production process though and there are many breeds of sheep that produce next to skin soft wool naturally!! For example some of our beauties here!!

Very low flammability. Wool naturally extinguishes itself and will not catch on fire. It will also not melt or stick to your skin like synthetics will.

What else could you add??

Smallholding Sunday

A little update on the holding! a little of what we have gotten up to this summer!

We have…. Giant courgettes, hoof trimming the sheep, honey harvesting, plum picking, a grape harvest, some beans and a new little chap hanging about more and more!

A Sunday dinner completely made and grown and raised by us, bottled rhubarb gin, the starts of a Holly run, an onion harvest and LOTS of berries.

All sorts of lovely stuff growing in the veg garden and Polytunnel!

We have baled, both big bales and hand baled small bales, we dropped the fleeces at the wool mill, made fire bricks from sawdust and paper…

And all this, as well as having summer adventures with the boys, dyeing yarn, forest school and so much more!!

Such a fab summer!!

Smallholding Sunday

I am starting a series of blog posts, about the things we get done and need to do around the holding…. maybe accountability, maybe a kick up the bum when we need it, maybe all just pie in the sky….. I will add videos onto the YouTube Channel for a monthly tour of the main bits of the holding as well! Hopefully around the same time as my monthly updates posts!

So for a first posting, maybe a list of to dos I seem to add to almost daily. These are over and above our daily chores of feeding and watering the animals which has to be done whatever the weather, although the chickens didn’t like the snow we had recently!

So my list at the moment:

  • Barn gutterings and down pipes (this will have to wait till later in the year and for a dry time, but we have managed to repair the middle barn sidings so far less water incursion there)
  • Tin hut finishing (there are MANY small and large jobs for this to happen but it will happen this year!)
  • New duck enclosure, they need a new house, more space and we plan to add it onto the current large chicken run
  • New willow plantings, both basketry and biofuel (J has finally said the whole little field can be put to willow!! Yay!! Well other than my dye beds, which will move up to allow for the duck enclosure to be added.
  • Renovate chicken shed enclosure after fox incursion last year, make the run ‘walk in able’
  • Make a hedgehog enclosure, Holly will need a safe outdoor garden space to live in come the spring, with log piles, a shallow pond and sleeping box.
  • 2 long hedgerows to cut and reshape into a hedge rather than the tangled mess, and to also add to our wood supplies for next year.
  • Camping pitch x1 in the far pasture.
  • Start clearing the holding field for building work/landscaping though this will be an ongoing project over the next few years. I plan to build a cabin to run courses and more forest school etc.
  • Planting, growing, harvesting, fruit and veg
  • Planting and growing dye plants
  • Ongoing garden projects, both for the children and for flowers and prettiness!
  • Make a pond
  • Make more wildlife garden areas
  • Plant trees
  • Continue clearing and sorting the inside of the barns, removing rubbish, from years of accumulation both by us and the previous owners. Making workable areas and storage.
  • Pigs, at some point in the springtime the pigs will head off on their final journey to the abattoir

We have always had lots of plans each year for this place, last year we did a lot of gardening and we managed a few final fencing jobs, some holiday let building, a pig house, and a play palace for the boys. In fact since we bought the place in 2014 we have built a house, started and almost completed a second, built a veg garden, three huge raised beds and a polytunnel, planted an orchard, fenced and fenced and fenced. We have built a fruit cage, planted withy beds, a dome and a tunnel, more gardening after beating back enormous bramble forests….

So far this year, we have managed to start cutting back one of the hedgerows, the longest in fact! We are about halfway down the inner side, the outer side was done by tractor flail cutting. So just the tops to do on that half and then into the really overstood half! This has so far gained us about 5 foot more garden space for the holiday let. Now I need to chip the brash and get the willow fedge planted and the holiday let garden can rest till spring, when patio, gate building and planting will start in earnest. The far field hedge will allow us to plant some quick growing pines, for biodiversity, screening and firewood and also to prepare the camping pitch and compost loo site for the summer months.

We have planted our little horse chestnut tree, we have mastered sourdough and we have measured, planned out and written a to order list for the three new enclosures or extensions we need to build.

What’s doing??

We have been busy as bees round the holding still, but since the start of lockdown in March we have not had any significant rainfall!!! 10 weeks!!

Things are tinder dry outside…. we are having to regularly water everywhere and currently just the other side of our nearest village there is a forestry and field fire that the forestry services and a helicopter have been battling since Sunday evening…

Thankfully there is some rain forecast tonight and for at least the morning tomorrow! The earth here will give a sigh of relief I expect when it starts to fall!!

In the meantime here a few snapshots of the past few weeks here! New fencing, shearing, turning out the horses, new chicks, new play stuff for the boys, elderflowers and a lot more!!