Thursday, 19 April 2012

a visit to Romney Marsh Wools, Kent

The pic above shows the family shepherd's crook which inspired the logo design.

The M25 in torrential rain and few wrong directions from satnav could not hold me back from taking up Romney Marsh Wools' invitation to visit them yesterday at Rushfield farm (I recently blogged about Romney Marsh Wools here).
I was welcomed with a cup of tea and a visit to the Romney Marsh sheep, and also the Merino sheep, their fleece vaguely reminiscent of a poodle perm, but they were unsportingly hiding behind a trough so I couldn't take a picture.
a handsome Romney ewe
newest of new baby lambs
The family at Rushfield have farmed this land for 6 generations - their farm is mainly arable, but they have a sizeable number of sheep too who graze the land in the system of crop rotation. Aside from the 60 Merinos, the rest of the 1000 sheep at the farm are Romneys, a hardy breed which is well suited to this part of the Kent marshes. Romneys produce good meat (salt marsh lamb, anyone?), and have a soft fleece due to the fine wool fibres - the width of the wool fibres is 32 microns, which compares to human hair which is 100 microns. Merinos are even softer, their wool fibres have a width of 18 microns. Due to their softness, the fleece from Romneys and Merinos can be used to make lovely cosy blankets and clothes.

The sheep at Rushfield produce about 5 to 6 tonnes of wool per year, the majority of which is bought by the Wool Marketing Board to be used in the carpet industry. The rest of the wool is now used in the farm's Romney Marsh Wool business - the fleeces are taken to Wales where they are washed, carded, spun and woven into blankets and rugs and fabric for cushions.

  A massive cube of wool
 wool - before (left) and after (right) the process of carding. I am assuming this is rather like brushing hair, only somewhat harder work, given that a fleece weighs between 3 and 4 kilos.
Some Romney Marsh Wool blankets - the darker wool is from a different sheep, which from one year to the next can vary in depth of colour

 different shades of brown and white striped blankets
Part of the skincare range which is made from lanolin, extracted from the wool
 slippers - with these Spring storms we have been having, there is nothing I would like more than a pair of these after getting drenched.
And finally here is the lovely (and, may I add, glamorous) Kristina - the driving force behind Romney Marsh Wool, her enthusiasm and energy for this new part of the family farm business is inspiring.

Thank you Kristina and family for a great afternoon.

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