And while I’m thinking about buying a pair of valenki, to keep my toesies warm in an eco-friendly way, I have to think about wool. I’ve lived without buying new wool for years. Wool is one of those things that I’ve seen a lot of otherwise staunch vegans bend on. The fact is cold climates largely demand either an investment in animal products or petroleum-based alternatives (though I have seen some nice looking hemp coats, but I don’t know how they actually hold up).
Even in the Hudson Valley I could survive without wool, but it was rough, but what if there was an alternative. Can there be less cruel wool? Not for vegans, but for those of us who are looking for an ethical alternative.
It seems difficult, because sheep have to be sheared for wool. And that isn’t fair to the sheep, and they get all those skin issues from not having wool.But then a few months ago, in doing research about wool I stumbled on the most obvious of solutions for the ethical winter wear: rooing.
According to Wikipedia:
In some primitive sheep (for example in many Shetlands), there is a natural break in the growth of the wool in spring. By late spring this causes the fleece to begin to peel away from the body, and it may then be plucked by hand without cutting – this is known as rooing. Individual sheep may reach this stage at slightly different times.
What is this? I’ve looked around and mostly keep finding blogs from sheep farmers who either don’t find it worth writing about in depth, or who are surprised to find they don’t need to shear and then don’t provide a lot of detail.
But from what I can tell, this wool is coming off in the spring/summer, and the human fingers just replace what would happen from shrubs and crags and other topographical features.
If anyone knows more about this I would love to hear about it. I’m intrigued by the potential of equitable relations with sheep.