Sunday, August 30, 2009

Natural Wool Sleep Systems Fresh from the Farm

One of the real pleasures of our trip has been sleeping on our natural wool bed. We had a chance to stop by and see The Wool Bed Company at Kerry Hill Farm in Oconomowoc, WI. This beautiful little town is nestled by the side of the lake it is named for, and many dignified older homes grace the shore of the lake and the towns’ tree-lined streets. Kerry Hills Farm is just a little ways out of town on a scenic plot of land that includes a lovingly restored farmhouse, the workshop where the beds are assembled by hand, and all the other accoutrements of a farm, horse barn, silo, etc.

The “Surround-Ewe” wool sleep system that we are using is the brainchild of Susan McCourt, and her proprietary process is unique in the world of conventional foam bed alternatives. This unique process is what gives her bed its delightful sleep properties. This is our first experience with an all wool bed, and I can honestly say that I have slept better for the last two months than I have slept in many years.

Our interest in wool beds began with our developing awareness of the toxic chemicals that are present in virtually all conventional mattresses. Once you learn that between the polyurethane foam that underlies most mattresses, and the fire retardants and other chemicals that are used to treat them, you are literally swimming in a toxic soup while you sleep, you will as we did want to look for alternatives.

Wool it turns out, in its pure form and free from chemical treatments, is the perfect material for a mattress. Its natural properties, which include the ability to wick moisture, to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, to be insect repellent and naturally anti-microbial, insure a safe, natural and wonderful nights’ sleep.

We were fortunate to have arrived on a day when they were getting ready to crank up the “new” wool batting machine Susan had recently purchased. 67 years old, this machine was brought in from Minnesota, and carefully reassembled in Susan’s barn. Machines of this kind are becoming a rarity in this country, and watching this Rube Goldberg device roar into life with dozens of spinning gears and belts, things popping and clanking back and forth and chewing up raw wool at one end and spitting out luxuriously soft wool batting out the other was a thing of wonder indeed. How machines like this ever got invented is beyond me, but it is a classic example of American ingenuity. Just keeping this thing running requires constant vigilance, so we tried to stay out of the way as the first wisps of wool appeared magically out of the machine and began to gather onto a large rolling wheel where they soon gathered into a thick wool batt.

One of the really inspiring features of Surround-Ewe bed is that it is entirely made in the USA. From the sheep from which the wool is gathered, to the cotton in which it is sewn, and the machines on which it is produced, you are getting that which is becoming increasingly rare; a handmade product that is made by U.S. workers, from natural materials that are made here as well. Since the company grows and cards its own wool, and manufactures its own product, they have complete control over what goes into the finished product. As we saw through the tainted paint scandals that plagued some large US toy companies who make their product overseas, this can be very important to the consumer.

We watched while the employees assembled a new bed before Susan invited us over for some dinner. Fresh chicken from her farm and some local corn, along with some wine for Kate and Susan and a couple of martinis for me, soon had us chatting like old friends while we solved the world’s problems. Funny how those solutions never seem as brilliant in the light of day! We spent the evening under the stars listening to the gentle sounds of the farm. Sleeping peacefully on our wool bed, we were soon awakened to the sound of Susan’s rooster welcoming the dawn. Bidding Susan farewell we headed off into the Wisconsin sunshine and watched wistfully as her silo and the farm faded from view.

1 comment:

  1. I am soooooo impressed! Your talent is amazing!
    Keep up the creative work.