Meet the Sheep! These are Dorpers and not known for their wool. You can see Abba is a bit scraggly. That's her shedding a coat of wool and hair. Dorper's are bred for their meat. I raise mine to help clean the land and the wool...well, I repurpose the wool in my wet felting projects. Once a year I get to chase my sheep around grabbing wool when they'll let me.
FACT: Texas is the largest fine wool producer in the U.S.
What are we doing to preserve that heritage? Well, we have mills popping up all over Texas who process wool, mohair and alpaca. There are enthusiasts raising fine wool sheep so they can get their own wool processed. Other breeds are being brought in to Texas but the Rambouillet, Debouillet and Delaine are still the hardiest of fine wool breeds.
Can the medium wool sheep be loved too? Of course. You will see Barbados and Dorpers dotting the landscape. Many meat breads are sheared to fatten them up. Dorpers are much more like a goat but with the brain of a sheep. The hairs that pop through the wool make the wool more coarse. The staple length is at best 1 inch with a slight crimp. The lanolin is amazing but Walter won't let me hug him.
Down the road I may get a fine wool, but for now I love my black wool from the Lindigs. Once a year I get to send 10 pounds or more off to the mill to get processed. It's important to me to preserve Texas Wool© from the Hill Country since this was what sustained the ranchers here in the area. Cowboys and cattle pass through but sheep and mohair are here to stay!
History of Felting
Felting dates as far back as 6300 BC and is one of the oldest arts out there. Throughout most of history felt was created with wool, water, soap, and two hands. Needle felting was invented in 1866 as an industrial method to produce felt fabric without soap and water.
WALTER & GUS