13 Jan Wool Sheds: Where is Wool Made and What Happens There?
Wool outfits keep us warm in the cold weather, and we even look stylish in them, but not many of us ponder long enough on how they came to be. Of course, this material comes from sheep, you may say, but in reality, some are gotten from other animals aside from sheep.
Whatever way it is gotten, the magical story of how our outfits came to be started from wool sheds. In this article, we’ll explain what this building is and what is done there.
Let’s get started!
What is a Wool Shed?
A wool shed or shearing shed as it is mostly referred to are large buildings in sheep stations that house large-scale sheep shearing operations. In simple terms, they are large buildings where fleece is extracted from the sheep. The process of cutting out this product from the sheep is referred to as shearing.
Whereby thousands of sheep are sheared, the buildings are built to house both the shearing equipment and the flock of sheep. Also, the area should have a space where the material is classed and pressed into storage packs for transportation to the market.
What are the Components of This Building?
Your typical wool shed will have the following sections:
1. Penning Area
Before you shear a sheep, it’s important to keep it dry for at least two days as shearing a wet sheep can cause you health problems. Also, wet product is difficult to press. So, ideally, the shearing shed should have a containment area called the penning area where the sheep will be kept dry before shearing. The penning area can either be in the wool shed or an adjacent building. Also, the penning area can serve as a lounge for newly shorn sheep in cold or wet weather.
2. Shearing area
This is the space where the sheep is sheared, It usually has a board over it called the shearing board. In older shearing sheds, shearers and roustabouts (help hands) will have to cross the shearing board with the sheep to go about their business. Modern wool sheds have shearing boards that are curved or raised or both. This saves the roustabouts from excessive movement. To get the sheep to the shearing area in this arrangement, a chute is used to release them through the wall or from the floor. For the shearing board, it’s best to use a tongued and grooved floor.
3. Wool room
This is the space in the wool shed where the shorn fleece is kept for skirting, rolling, and classing. It is usually located close to the shearing area to reduce the walking distance to and from the shearing area. This room will have a table where the shorn fleece is dropped and a bin for placing the different classes of product. The tables can either be round and revolving or rectangular, while the bin is usually made of solid material.
What Happens in This Building?
As mentioned earlier, the wool shed is where the making process begins. The activities carried out here include:
- Shearing or Combing – This is the process of removing the hair from the sheep. Depending on the climate, the fleece from sheep is shorn once or twice a year. You comb rather than shear in the case of cashmere. What you will comb is the thinner undercoat of the sheep, which you’ll have to separate from the outer hair.
- Sorting or Classing – This is the process whereby the fleece is grouped into different classes. This is usually based on their qualities which can be by their average diameter, length, strength, color, yield, or even comfort. It takes an expert to effectively classify the fleece and sort them into bales.
From here, the fleece is pressed and packed and transported out to the wool shed to continue the other making process of cleaning, carding, spinning, weaving, and finishing.