I am imagining one of the farms that our wool comes from on the Oregon Coast. Seeing the cool mist rolling off the ocean to blanket the high cliffs that rise up like a wall at it’s edge. The mist then gently weeping on the grassy landscape. I’m imagining all this as Nathan leads us through a description of the farm. Nathan, our contact and supplier for wool, our arms and legs and voice so to speak in the field, connecting us with our farms and ranches, is with us at the store now chatting over how wool production has been this year, and what is emerging on the market for cotton, the two most important materials for our products.
His mind is a treasure trove of experience. How weather affects the strength and durability of wool from year to year. What will happen to cotton prices after the draughts in Texas. How to forecast and prepare for these changes in production. The names of each family that works their land to improve it for their next generation… My mind is on the Wahl family which has had their property for over 130 years. They protect sensitive areas and restore marshes with native plantings. They leave 30% of the land off limits to livestock, reserved only for birds and other wildlife.The other 70% they rotate, the flocks tilling and airing the soil with their small light hooves.
My mind keeps drifting back to the Wahl’s property. This is the kind of place I’ve often dreamed of having myself. Fashion shoot, I’m wearing wellies, a long plaid lined coat, shearing my flock... Ha! Not quite. But I definitely love to tend the land in a general sense… A tradition of improving and caring for something. That has always been essential to me. A place that is rich in history to be discovered and understood. The British have a long love affair with places like this, called the Country manor. They revive their imagination and feed their soul in the sense of place. You see it in their news paper kiosks, with publications like Country Life, Gardens Illustrated, and The Field.There is a serious sense of adventure and play in their gardens and in their love of the country.
I run my hands over the soft piles of wool products Nathan and I are discussing. We chat about some of the new products we want to create, made of our locally farmed and spun wool, colored with vegetable dies, and sewn on site at the store. I’m only half aware I am spinning a yarn in my head. To me Nathan is our own American version of the country gentleman, buying and selling in all things natural and organic, while carving out a living from the land that can challenge you with its many seasons. Tall and assured I can imagine him getting a little dirty in the service of doing a job well, but I would never know that on first glance as he cradles a mug of something warm in his hands. When we build a bed or sandwich layers of wool together into a topper I understand now why the fibers are so strong. Our lofty wool comes from a place of quality.