Tony was up & about at 0230 this morning,
having to drive down to London for his Induction Day with the newly-merged airline. His working day began at 0730 as there was much to cover; learning all the basics of where & how to report etc, whilst I found I couldn’t really get back to sleep after he left therefore did a bit of reading before getting up even earlier than usual to start the standard daily routine.
After milking etc, I booked our last two pigs in at Welsh Hook; also provisionally booking in four of the male kids, although it broke my heart to do so (but I am holding out hope that we may yet find new homes for them, before we have to make that unhappy decision).
I contacted the Wool Marketing Board who’d sent us a ‘snot-o-gram’, asking why we hadn’t yet dispatched them this year’s shorn wool? The reason was simple – they’d duly registered us as new producers (take note o ye aspiring/new smallholders – it is mandatory to register with them if you own four or more sheep) but hadn’t subsequently sent us a ‘wool sheet’, which is basically a large sack into which the fleeces are bundled, nor any despatch instructions.
I was advised we should now drop our fleeces off at the regional depot in Brecon; however as the majority of the bundles consist of coloured wool, they are probably worth only around 2p per kilo. As each fleece weighs around 6kg this makes a grand total of about 12p per fleece – or £1.32 (although Acer & Angelica’s white wool would fetch a little more, with MacDougal’s fine fleece worth more still) – which would probably give us a total ‘grand haul’ of about £5 – whoopee do. As it costs £1 to shear each sheep we’re already 88p down per animal for 77% of our wee flock; so shearing alone has put us into ‘negative equity’ of around £6 for the adults – hard farming facts.
Add to that the cost to transport our eleven fleeces to Brecon – a minimum three-hour round trip from here (picturesque though the journey might be) which would use at least £35 in fuel, it means the whole exercise would actually cost us at least £44.68! Subsequently we mutually agreed that the fleeces could wait for another year – if we can maintain their condition we’ll put them in next year’s woolsack when hopefully they may even fetch a better price – & I’ll only have to take them as far as Newcastle Emlyn to ‘piggy-back’ in the bulk collection.
It’s such a pity however, that they are deemed virtually worthless; almost waste material, according to the WMB: because some of our fleeces are simply stunning – silver on black or on dark chocolate, for example (see header picture on ‘Sheep’ page) – & I’m sure would make superb natural-coloured knitting yarn as the Shetland cross produces such a lustrous, silky fibre. It seems such a shame that it will be used instead in some nondescript industrial process rather than for creating quality, natural garments – & with our over-processed, chemically-saturated lifestyles, that is to what we should all surely be aspiring.
We even considered purchasing a spinning wheel to give me something (extra!) to do in the evenings on those rare occasions I have time to watch TV or listen to the radio but at around £275 for a basic wheel, it would take far too long to recoup the costs; lovely though it would be. And besides, I can’t knit & drop more stitches than I achieve; although Tony did win a prize in his school Eisteddfod for his knitting, at the tender age of nine – so maybe there’s hope for us yet….I can picture it now, Tony in his flashy uniform, feet up in the cockpit with needles a-clicking on a nice warm scarf or fluffy pair of socks….classic. He did point out that the Airbus does have a side-stick rather than a central control column; so maybe there’s mileage in the idea, yet…!!
Anyway when Tony came home he had a rare treat in store – he’d been to the chip shop (it is a Friday after all!). So we enjoyed our ‘take away’ supper before collapsing into bed – both of us having had a long day, but especially poor Tony, not coming home until about 9pm.
His Induction Day had been interesting & some positive noises were made; it looks as though the new company may attempt to look favourably upon their unwittingly-merged employees, trying where possible to give them what are classed as the ‘medium haul’ routes which are new to the company.
After all, bmi’s philosophy is short-haul with the majority of pilots living in close proximity to Heathrow; whereas BMed’s ethos was completely the opposite, with Tony having only an average ‘commute’ & some aircrew living as far away as Devon, Scotland, France & even Italy & Poland. I somehow doubt that bmi’s ‘nine-to-five’ pilots are going to want to give up their comfortable home life for a more unpredictable schedule; so hopefully things will settle down to give everyone concerned the best compromise in lifestyle issues; but we have learned that it’s always worth having ‘irons in the fire’….you have to carve your own path through life’s dense woodland, after all.
So if any of you spinners are after some fleecy delights this Winter, do drop us a line – we’d be happy to see our wool go to a good home.