A natural mattress with Michigan wool couldn’t be a more natural choice for our handmade in Harbor Springs mattress company. We use wool from a Michigan woolen mill that gathers fleece from Michigan sheep farmers. We feel good buying and selling local. Plus, farming sheep for fleece is sustainable as sheep regrow their fur. We often tell customers; ” the wool in your mattress comes from sheep who are still happily grazing, as we speak.” It’s hard to get any more natural or locally made.
The Beds By Design, Farm to Bed story begins with Michigan sheep farmers. There are over 2000 sheep producers in Michigan who raise sheep for both recreational and commercial reasons.
Shearing Sheep For Wool
The production of wool begins of course with the shearing. Sheep are generally shorn of their locks in the spring. Zach Oaster, Shepherd at Fat Toaster Farm in Rockford Michigan says; “Sheep shearing is a relief for the sheep, mostly. Wool is different from hair in the fact that it grows continuously and never falls out. Thus, when a sheep grows a full fleece it gets long and uncomfortable. Sheep must be sheared because the wool will not fall out on its own. Thousands of years of domestication results in shepherds needing to cut the wool. To not do so would eventually endanger the life of the sheep.”
The tool used to cut, or “shear” the wool is very similar to the electric trimmer that your barber or stylist uses to cut your hair. Sheep shearers have often honed their skill for years or decades, and it is a craft.
Maury Kaercher, Executive Director of the Michigan Sheep Producers Association says; “in my experience,the sheep seem relieved afterwards more than afraid.” Oaster noted that;
“the sheep usually go straight to eating grass or hay and happily enjoy their newfound freedom from the thick itchy fleece.”
A Natural Mattress with Michigan Wool begins at the Woolen Mill
Our Beds By Design mattresses are made with wool from Frankenmuth Wool Mill. A recent visit with our friends at the Mill, included a behind the scenes look at how they clean, card and form the fleece into the woolen batts we use in our mattresses.
Natural Wool Processing
The Frankenmuth Woolen Mill is the oldest working woolen mill in Michigan. It dates back to 1894, when the mill washed and prepared wool for the area farmers. They still process wool the same way they did 100 years ago. For us, the eco-friendliness of the wool is enhanced by the fact that no chemicals are used to clean or process the wool. This is especially important, as we place wool in the top layer (right under your nose) when we build our mattresses.
After the wool is shorn from the sheep it is sent to the mill where it is first washed. The wool is washed without any chemicals and is cleaned with 180 degree hot water.
The wool is then dried for three to five days, depending on the season. Once dry, it is brought to the carding machines. Here, the fibers are extensively run through combs and rollers in the large carding machine. The carding machine is an impressively large mechanism that dominates the small woolen mill.
When the wool comes out the fibers have been thoroughly cleaned and combed parallel so they are fluffy soft.
Next, the carded wool is brought to the batting drum where it is finely layered and continuously rolled around a drum until it reaches the density of the desired woolen batts.
These woolen batts are what we use to in our mattresses. Because wool has so many health benefits including regulating body temperature, we always use wool as the top layer, right under the mattress ticking or cover.
Wool will not develop hot or cold spots on the mattress which translates into less shifting and turning in the night, creating a more restful, deeper sleep.
Handcrafted Quality and Natural Ingredients
We are passionate about our handcrafted quality and our natural ingredients. We are proud to be one of the few companies left in the United States still making a handmade, hand tufted mattress. Our natural mattress with Michigan wool not only creates a superior sleep, it supports Michigan sheep farmers and Michigan industry while keeping production sustainable and local.