Today, I am deviating from posting about families in the Arizona sheep industry to promote a company located in Montana that prides itself on being the only source-verified, 100% Made-in-the-USA Merino wool clothing company. You can read more about their story on https://www.duckworthco.com/pages/sheep-to-shelf. For those of you who do not wish to visit another website, I will post some of their information here.
In Dillon, Montana, a sheep ranch by the name of Helle raises sheep, and then they “carefully manage every part of the production process from raw fiber to finished garment. The ranch in Dillon sits one mile above sea level. As the valley starts to warm in early summer, the sheep begin their 40-mile journey to graze in the high mountain pastures above 9,000′ in the Gravelly Mountains. The extreme changes in altitude and temperature give the Helle Rambouillet Merino a longer staple length, more crimp and grater curvature. The 4th generation ranchers have fine tuned this process creating a soft yet extremely durable wool for Duckworth garments.” Their sheep have just recently come back down the mountain. As they wrote in their email “The young lambs shave grown larger and stronger, and were able to make the long journey home with ease.” (Our two trails in Arizona are longer than 40 miles but the ewes and lambs only travel northward via the trails and are trucked back to the valley each fall).
The email continued, “After the spring shearing, each fleece is tested and given a grade to determine its end use. The wool then travels to the Carolina’s where it is spun, knit, and dyed. The garments are cut and sewn in three different US states, and shipped back to Montana for warehousing.
In addition to making great wool, the Duckworth Sheep to Shelf process removes thousands of miles from the traditional supply chain, resulting in a significantly smaller carbon footprint.”
Most of this information is quoted off of an email that I received from them last week. I asked for permission to use it here as I truly believe it is important for the American consumer to think about the clothes they wear and where they are made and that includes where the fabric comes from – wool from American sheep and then processed here in the United States! If you want to reduce the carbon footprint, what a great way to do it by buying American made products. It keeps our sheep industry healthy, provides jobs for those raising the sheep, then all the people involved in shearing, sorting the fleeces, the transporting of the fleeces to a mill, and all those employees, etc., etc., etc. Think of the jobs that are created in this process. We use to have many woolen mills in this country especially when we had 55 million plus sheep across the country. Today, there may be 6 million sheep, mostly found in the western states where there is land for the sheep to graze. Sheep help keep our forest healthy by eating the undergrowth; that is when and where they are allowed to graze. For helping to keep the forest healthy, sheep owners pay the forest service to graze their sheep for a few months each year and the sheep owners are told when and where and for how long the sheep can be on the land. Forest fires have increased over the years as there have been a reduction in the number of sheep grazing. But, this is a topic for another day.
I will close this blog reminding the consumer that the holidays are approaching and what a great time to purchase American made wool products. There is wool that can be worn in Arizona in the summer time. Wool quality has changed over the years. There used to be shops in Williams that sold woolen undergarments so that would have to be a soft wool. I have talked in earlier blogs of the benefits of wool. Please think about your next purchase. And don’t forget to check out Duckworth Wool in beautiful Montana.