How I Process Bison Down

Twice a year, we "work" buffalo. This means that we get them all in a corral, get each one into a squeeze shoot one by one, give them vaccinations and brush them to collect hair. 

We also collect hair by picking it off of fences, rubbing trees and the ground. It’s tedious but so worth it when you get to feel the cloud-like softness of the down. It’s almost like you're 
touching nothing, like it’s too soft to feel. 

The first step in processing is to separate the down from the stuff I don’t want; guard hairs, twigs, sticker burrs, etc. I also pick out the very best down I can find.

 

Then it’s time to wash. I wash my wool in lukewarm water with dawn dish soap. For extra dirty or dusty fiber, I will soak several times before I even wash, and then I may wash it a couple times after that!

 

Next step is to dry. I lay out my fiber on the special tables my husband made for me and let it dry in the sun. 

After the fiber is dry, it is time to card. The fluff that isn’t matted goes onto the drum carder. For the stuff that is matted, usually I can get it un-matted gently with hand carders. 
Sometimes, this isn’t possible unfortunatley. When bison shed their coats, it is oftentimes matted, so we do what we can. 

After the fiber is adequetly carded, it is ready! You can spin it directly from the batt, or pile of fluff. 

© 2018 Candace Pauly