In light of the growing trend for fuller disclosure by retailers and suppliers for more information about the source of their products, the New York Times has written an article describing the clothing and textile manufacturers’ efforts to reveal more information on how their textiles are grown and manufactured.
As a result, we here at Meduseld decided that consumers may be interested in the working conditions of our wool producers. In the following pictures, we will provide a brief tour of the “factory” including their living conditions, work environment, and “fair trade” compensation.
Meduseld’s wool producers have two different structures for protection from the elements as well as shade in the heat of the summer. The larger building was brilliantly created to have a split level plan, which allows for air to circulate to the upper levels and provides very tall ceilings in the stalls. This design keeps contact with flies at a minimum, and since heat rises, the wool producers enjoy the cool earth floor in the summer. This is when sheep need protection the most. In the winter their wool and lanolin ensure comfy warmth. In the summer, the shorn sheep could hardly otherwise escape the heat.
Their work environment includes several pastures that they are rotated through.They enjoy diverse grasses and forbes and some of the pastures afford tree cover and shrubs to exfoliate. They particularly like the “mountain olives,” which they devour like candy. This is good news, since the Mountain Olive, also called “Autumn Olive” is an invasive species from Asia that is destroying pastures throughout Virginia and West Virginia. It was intitally recommended by several government agencies for reclaiming land, but now we know better.
It has been difficult to estimate the actual time that they get off for breaks and meals, since most of their day is actually spent eating. Not limited by 15 minute intervals for breaks, they pretty much plop (is that a word?) down where ever is convenient to process their cud. Is that technically work or pleasure? Hard to decide.
Conditions include full board and meals, full health coverage, and free haircuts every spring. They don’t even have to pick up after themselves. Not bad.