It seems like every year the cold weather arrives earlier in Northern Illinois. I know I was not ready for snow on Halloween. One good outcome of the colder weather is people start to think about wearing wool. I like to promote wool year-round for the unique properties of wool.

While doing some research for an article in the Illinois Shepherd, I found a good article on the attributes of wool on the American Sheep Industry’s American wool website. Following are some facts about wool from that website. Wool’s moisture absorption gives it less static electricity than synthetic fibers. Due to the structure of wool fibers, it pulls moisture away from the skin. Wool can absorb 30% of its weight in water before feeling damp. This is important in keeping sheep dry on a rainy day and keeping your feet dry when wearing wool socks. Wool is always breathable. The fiber structure allows for moisture to easily pass through while also insulating against the cold. This is why wool is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Wool is naturally odor resistant and durable. At a microscopic level, wool fibers resemble a rose bush stem with a lot of barbs. This structure prevents dirt form getting down into the wool, as well as being very strong. Another unique property of wool is that it is nonflammable. Due to the tight structure, wool requires more oxygen than is in the air to burn. Wool fibers will not melt when exposed to extreme heat. Hope this helps to understand and promote wool. Interesting that it is such a good fiber and renewable, but not as popular as synthetic fibers.

Our sheep are enjoying a little longer time in the pasture. Due to all the rain this year, the pasture is still long and green. We have plenty of hay, so I think I will close the gates to the pasture next weekend. This will also be about the time to start moving the sheep into pens for breeding. On my farm, we plan to have lambs at the first of May. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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