If wool be in thy care ...
Si tibi lanitium curae ...

Small Farmer's Journal, Spring 2007




To see pictures submitted with the article,
click on the IMAGES button below

We stood under the pre-dawn sky of Quebec, stamping our feet in a futile attempt to keep warm. The street lights cast their yellow pall onto the sacks of wool waiting in the snow like giant bean bag chairs. The cold nibbled mercilessly at every inch of exposed flesh until finally, the truck was loaded and we could retreat to the warmth of the cab. I had driven north, late the night before, to pick up Alastair MacKenzie and four hundred pounds of fleece from his flock at La Moutonnière, the sheep dairy and artisan cheese plant he runs with his partner, Lucille Giroux. Our mission was to cover the 650 miles to MacAusland’s Woolen Mill on Prince Edward Island (PEI) to get his wool washed and dried. The last scouring plant in Quebec had closed its doors months earlier, and the company that makes La Moutonnière’s socks could only work with clean fiber. I was along for the ride to uncover the mysteries of raw wool and its processing.

Raised in New Zealand where sheep outnumber people, Alastair has more experience with sheep than anyone I’ve ever met. ... His hands are those of a shepherd, calloused and worn from years of hard work; hands that can read a lock of wool in the same way that a blind person reads Braille. I’ve shipped many samples to a testing lab in Denver in order to measure the fineness of my wool in microns. Alastair can provide a close guesstimate with a single touch.

(To read more, click on the TEXT button below)


© 2006-2008 Charles Capaldi
Website Design by NetMétaphore