Time to rant! I had a conversation with a neighbor last night who said that he noticed I finally got my sheep sheared. I said yes, and he said, "There's no money in that, is there?" I tried to say that there was, but then he started talking about how it was great back when they got paid $2.50 per POUND for wool, but then the bottom dropped out of the market, and you can't make any money on it now.
A couple weeks ago when I was at Garfield Farm, a woman was telling me that the 4-H kids in her county sell their wool to a co-op for 23 cents a POUND, and when she tried to tell the extension agent that she'd buy the kids' wool for more, the woman wanted to hear nothing about it.
Last year, I sold out of my Shetland roving at $1.50 per OUNCE, and it seems that the price has gone up since then, so I'll be selling it for $2 an OUNCE this year. When I attempted to tell my neighbor last night that once you process your wool into roving, you can get $32 a pound for it, he quickly said, "Well, that's a winner!" turned on his heel and left before I could say another word. He clearly thought I was crazy.
This morning, I was telling my husband at breakfast that our neighbor probably thought that my comment was about as crazy as saying that you could make $100 an hour working at Wal-Mart. I started thinking about it, and it's even crazier than that! Imagine that they are paying 23 cents an hour to work at McDonald's, and Wal-Mart is paying $23 an hour. Where would you work? I don't think it's a stretch to say that NO one would work at McDonald's for 23 cents and hour when they could 100X as much money working at Wal-Mart. But of course, I'm not crazy, because I do sell my wool for that much. I sold out of every last little fiber last year at $1.50 per ounce ($24 per pound)!
Today I posted a message on my sheep group about this, and several people said that they have had the same conversation plenty of times. Yes, I have to clean the wool and have it carded (or card it myself) to sell it at that price, but I look at the 20 fleeces in my living room right now and think: I could sell them at 23 cents a pound to some co-op and make a whopping $25 -- if they would be willing to buy colored wool! Or I could spend a few hours skirting them and a few more hours washing them. It will cost me $6 a pound to have the wool carded ($360 total for 20, 3# fleeces -- they weigh less after they're washed), and then I have to post it on my website, which costs $6 a month, and I can sell all of that wool for $2,000. Hmm ... is it worth the extra $1,615 to do that work and sell directly to the consumer? Which one would you choose?
We spent this morning preparing our fleeces to be washed.