Hairdresser-turned-shepherdess, Zoë Colville farms nearly 100 acres of land near Maidstone with her partner, Chris Woodhead. With prime focus on their animals’ wellbeing, together they rear cows, sheep, goats and pigs, eventually selling their meat through The Little Farm Fridge. This month, Zoë tells us about wool and its many uses
Sheep get sheared once or sometimes twice a year depending on their breed. As discussed in last month’s catch up, it costs us around £1.50 per head to shear which takes their fleece off, hopefully in one piece. The wool is most likely then cashed in to a wool merchant or British Wool. The past few years the price has been incredibly low, one large scale farmer received a cheque for under £20 for their entire flock. This is an issue I feel incredibly strongly about because fleece and fibre could solve lots of our environmental problems that seem to be snowballing. Synthetic materials and plastics are rife – fast fashion, hospitality, interiors, everywhere. I won’t go down that route or we shall be here all day!
Anyway, wool has some really handy properties:
Natural fleece is fire resistant unlike most synthetic materials. It is also biodegradable within roughly six months. It can absorb 40% of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet. Wool can absorb certain toxins out the air e.g. formaldehyde.
You are probably wondering why it’s not being used more commonly, I think the answer is how long it takes to process. I once had a fad where I thought I was going to make yarn out of our fleeces because my grandma had given me a spinning wheel. I managed to wash a few fleeces, which takes two days in itself, then dry it in the sun and ‘card it’. Carding is to brush the strands so they are all facing the same direction, which again takes a huge amount of time. That’s before you even get the spinning wheel out, safe to say I handed my clean fleeces to a local crafter and gave up on that pipedream… for now.
Our shipping packaging for The Little Farm Fridge is made from sheep fleece and I think insulation is one of its brilliant properties that will be explored in the coming years as we become more aware of the damage to the environment caused by plastics. When people order from us they can then reuse the wool liners around the home, in flower beds to protect plants against frost, for the local birds to use for their nests and also for various crafting projects. One of our customers even insulated the little shed they keep their rabbits in to protect against the cold! If crafting is something you are into then we are always interested in learning of new ways our fleece can be put to good use and keeping it local is even better.
The Little Farm Fridge Recipe of the month
How to cook it… Lamb Koftas
• Serves 4. You will need 8 bamboo skewers for the BBQ
- 500g Little Farm Fridge lamb mince
- 2tsp ground coriander
- 2tsp ground cumin
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp rocksalt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- chopped fresh coriander
- chopped fresh mint
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic
- 30g panko breadcrumbs
(For GF don’t add these but will be drier and more crumbly)
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Split into 8 pieces and roll into sausage shapes.
- If barbecuing: soak your bamboo skewers in water before cooking to help stop them burning. Thread the ‘sausages’ onto the skewers. Cook for around 6 mins, rotating throughout. If cooking on the hob in a frying pan: add a drizzle of oil. They will take around 5 mins – continue turning to make sure brown all over.
- We serve with a fresh salad with plenty of lemon, flatbreads and a homemade tzatziki which is natural yoghurt, cucumber, fresh mint and garlic (plus plenty of lemon juice!).
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