So I’m now in contact with that place that may have Shetlands and they do have them. I’m still not entirely sure that this will work out. We’re having pricing issues.
She quoted a price of $1/ounce. Too expensive for me. I politely declined. She replied that she’d found that price online but was open to negotiation and would match any price I found. I sent back that I was hoping for $10/lb and mentioned several factors that affect pricing. I didn’t mention that I could fairly easily find $5/lb if I went looking. I’m waiting for a reply. She did mention that she was having houseguests this weekend so may be too busy to reply until Monday.
I have the suspicion that she’s not a spinner. Or at least has never sold or bought fleece. That’s fine. I have no problem with going out there and accessing her fleece and then setting a price. But she’s going to have to be ok with that price possibly being low.
The fleeces in question have been in vacuum bags, stored for 1-2 years. In theory, this is good. There should not be bug problems. On the other hand, just where have they been stored? In a basement or climate controlled room? That would be ideal. Out in the barn or a shed? That brings up a bunch of potential problems. Lanolin melting and resettling in the heat of the summer is a major one. While Shetlands are on the low end for lanolin, it’s much harder to removed resettled lanolin. Condensation on the plastic bags causing felting is another.
I’m happy to give advice on how to improve her fleeces. Coating to cut down on VM. How and where to sell (online, the local market is nearly non-existant.) Better storage practices, if that is an issue. How to find a shearer if that is an issue. Possibly shearing earlier if the shetland rise is an issue.
These are all things that can only be accessed in person and that an inexperienced shepherd, especially one that doesn’t spin, wouldn’t know. I only know because I’ve done extensive research on sheep and fleeces. I’m curious that way.
In any case, if this fall through and we can’t agree on price, then I’m done searching for local fleece. I’ll buy online until such time as my husband feels comfortable extending his range. Which is once we get a new car. Which is not in the near term plans.
I’m tired of this yearly hunt. I despise making phone calls and email is only slightly better. I’m always afraid of offending the other person when they are a stranger. There’s no tone of voice to tell me if I’m going wrong. I try to be always be polite but my polite and their polite might be different things.
So cross your fingers for me that this goes well. Hopefully I’ll be able to show off some Shetland fleeces in a few weeks. Even if I can’t wash for another month and half – too cold outside.