The Fleecing of Oklahoma: The state’s only animal fiber processing mill

Oklahoma's News 4
By: Galen Culver

Original content from Oklahoma's News 4.  

GUTHRIE, OKLAHOMA -- This mess isn't a skirt yet but Ivan French is skirting.

"You're looking for stuff around the tail and the neck," he says while handling a dirty pile of animal hair. "I'm looking for any kind of foreign matter."

Not long ago these fibers belonged to a sheep.

"This is Daisy. This is Colonel. This is Sunshine," smiles Ivan describing the small batches he processes according to each animal.

The owners sent it to the Oklahoma Mini Mill to get the dirt and oil out, and to get it ready for actually making something like a skirt.

The French's spent several months researching different milling operations and decided to pick it up as a retirement business when they saw how far local producers had to go to mill their fleeces.

Ivan recalls, "We had one customer drive over from Fort Smith, Arkansas (250 miles away). She said, 'I'm amazed that you're so close."

Hair removed from farm animals of any kind is pretty dirty.

Ivan and Cheri brought in several different machines to clean it up.

They tumble it first, then wash it, blow it, kind of tease in into something that looks like cotton candy.

Finally, they card it, drawing the fibers through 14 different drums to get them all lined up and ready to make something.

Read the rest of this story at Oklahoma's News 4.