Column: Why is wool worthless?

Last week was the annual wool collection where six farmers took their wool to be weighed
Last week was the annual wool collection where six farmers took their wool to be weighed

Wool, it is worth nothing, it doesn’t even pay to clip the sheep.

If we had contractors in to clip it would cost over £1 a sheep so doing it ourselves saves us a bit, I do like clipping them, it’s a change from driving a tractor every day all summer.

Last week was the annual wool collection which six farmers from around here take their wool to be weighed and then loaded onto a wagon.

We sell our wool to the Irish wool board as we find out how much we get for our wool before it has even left the dale because the price is fixed and it is all weighed before it goes onto the wagon.

This is much better than the British Wool Board, as they have to weigh and grade the wool when you are not there.

We normally get paid within the week for the wool from the Irish, but if you sent it to the British wool board you would only get a part payment this year, then would only get the other part next year once you have taken your wool.

So considering the wool is worthless at the moment sending it to the British wool board is making the wool not even worth keeping, its nearly only worth burning.

I know that some people would say that you should support the British Wool Board but whilst we can still sell wool to the Irish I think we will sell to the Irish, most of the wool even ends up going to the same places as the British so really I don’t think it makes much difference if you supported the British Wool Board or the Irish.

The older generation says that the wool used to pay the rent for the farm but now it doesn’t if pay for them to be clipped.

We loaded the wool up last Thursday night after it finally managed to fair up after raining most of the time for the past few days.

Whilst my Dad, Uncle and Brother loaded the wool up onto a straw trailer I was trying to stuff the last few fleeces into the wool sheets that had just a bit of room for that odd extra fleece.

We had about 15 Masham fleeces that needed to be stuffed into other sheets and we ended up with a sheet of Masham wool weighing 158kg.

Horned wool sheets normally weigh around 50-60kg. I don’t think they quite believed how much it weighted they thought we had put two on the scales, I think my two little sisters did a good job at jumping in the wool sheets.

One of the farmers said it is one of the times of the year when we all get together and find out what’s been going on in the dale.

Since we have hit August it has never stopped raining(we expected it to come at some point) there is grass still left to mow all over the Dale, it’s the time of year when we are picking up peoples first cut, second cut and third cut. It just shows how much of a difference it is at the top of the Dale to down the Dale. Straw is still to do and as we go down near the straw fields they just look black and too wet to do anything with. Straw is becoming harder to get hold of, we have less this year due to straw being burnt in power stations.

Making it harder to keep cows in the hills as the price of straw goes up and it harder to get hold of cows are getting pushed out of the hills. We need the straw for bedding for the cows in the winter and also sometimes feed it if we have enough as sometimes the silage can be just too good for the cows. The straw is needed to make muck which we put onto our fields, to maintain the grassland.