Friday, June 27, 2014

Wild Rose Farm At Wool Pool

Look Out - Here Comes A Fleece!
The Washington County PA Wool Pool was held on Monday & Tuesday this week at the Washington County Fairground.  For those who've "never been"(!), a wool pool is where regional sheep producers bring their raw wool fleeces to be sold as one large "pool".  The association sponsoring the pool advertises for bids and the entire intake of wool goes to the highest bidder.   On Monday, producers with greater than 125 sheep in the flock brought in their fleeces.  Some of the large loads were sheep shearers who are given fleeces as part of their shearing arrangement.  You never know what kind of fleeces that they will come in with! 
On Tuesday, producers with flocks of less than 125 sheep brought in their fleeces to be graded and sold.  The smallest load this year was 4 fleeces from a young lady who is starting in 4-H with 4 sheep.  :)   Nice to see young people getting started in the business! 
Filling Baskets With Different Grades of Wool From One Producer
The wool was "graded" or "classed" by 2 experienced gentlemen who have been doing this for years.  Each class of wool has a different bid price & the buyer relies on the classers to get it right so that the buyer gets what they paid for ...

Recording Weight of Wool
 The wool from each producer is sorted into different baskets by grade and each basket is weighed and recorded.  The total weight per grade is multipled by the bid price for that grade, all of the baskets are totaled, and the association writes a check to the producer immediately. 
Baling Wool With A Hydraulic Press
The baskets are dumped into their respective grade piles and then the wool is "baled".  Depending on the type of wool, similar size bales can weigh between 400 & 600 pounds.  Click on the picture above & you can see all of the activity going on at once.  A bale is being wheeled to the shipping area, one team is baling wool, and the finished bales are lining the wall in the background on the right.  Other piles of various grades are also in the background waiting to be baled.  No mixing of grades can occur.
The intake of wool ended at 3PM on Tuesday and a tractor trailer arrived to pick up the bales.  By 6:30PM the building was swept clean, balers secured and loaded on a trailer, and the doors were locked.  Not bad for a once a year event!   This was my first time volunteering and I was dog tired at the end of the day on Tuesday ... temps were in the 80's, but luckily, we didn't get any rain! 

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