The Fleise Hoose (Fleece House) is The Hirsel’s project to utilize and promote the amazing, sustainable product that wool is. Starting with our own flock, we’ll be offering felted and sheepskin rugs, raw fleece, and washed/carded wool – all from our own flock of heritage Hebridean sheep. At the same time, we’re developing long-term plans to offer the washing and carding service to other small, especially heritage breed, flock owners.
A sheep’s fleece is 50% carbon, captured from the soil in the grass they eat. When we shear it, we try to use every bit of it as possible: wool for creating long lasting, beautiful products which will capture that carbon for years to come, and discarded wool for composting, which will return carbon to, and enrich, the soil it was taken from. When we eventually send that sheep to the abattoir, we honour the animal by wasting as little as possible: using their skins for rugs, and curing their horns for use in art projects.
We aim to make the washing and carding service as ecologically friendly as possible, using and re-using water from the same spring and rainwater catchment system that serves the rest of the farm. The system will eventually be adapted to allow us to use any discarded (and filtered to SEPA standards) water on our fields, and the discarded wool and VM will be added to our compost piles, to enrich our soils.
With these actions, in concert with our way of farming the land, we lower our waste, and our carbon footprint. And by offering our Fleise Hoose service to other Scottish shepherds, we can help them lower their footprints, by keeping the work close to home, and increase earning potential for their farms, too.
At the moment, we’re adapting a two bedroom caravan as a temporary workshop – replacing domestic sinks with deep sinks for soaking and washing fleeces, and turning the bedrooms into drying rooms. But plans are in development to renovate and equip our 300 year old stone barn for the long term commercial project – saving this precious building from demolition and giving it a new and useful function on the farm. The long-term project will also offer training and jobs for a small staff.
We’ll be processing – and learning on – our own fleeces through the spring and summer of 2021. Our hope is to open up to other Scottish flocks on a small scale basis, in time for the 2022 shearing season.