I had a request to export some fleeces to upstate New York, after many enquiring emails and several photos and close-ups of the fleece, the buyer decided that she was happy to have them sent to her.
Firstly I had to get the fleeces out on the kitchen floor and try to get stalks of hay and the ‘smelly’ bits taken out, whilst doing this I really wondered if this sale was worth bothering with as I was only asking £5 per fleece! Getting the fleece prepared must have taken well over an hour, even then there were still little bits of dry moss and similar debris in the wool, however, after that I rolled up the fleeces really tight and arrested the bouncy fleece in a plastic bag and bound it up with parcel tape to keep it rolled up into the smallest parcel I could manage.
Next was something I hadn’t thought of up till then….was is it legal to export wool to the States? I got onto a website and found a complicated table of things you must define the parcel as to contain, so off I went to the village post office with my parcel saying on the customs label…’Sheep Fleece’. The lady in the post office looked at her list of things she could not send through the post and seemed to have alarm bells go off in her head, as she rang some main post office somewhere for advice, they didn’t know and suggested she rang the Embassy. By now a good queue had amassed and I was amazed that the Embassy should be consulted about my little Ouessant fleeces! The Embassy wasn’t very helpful, so she said, in desperation, “I should just re-do it with a new export label and put ‘wool’, then take it to another post office as I know it is sheep fleece, then I won’t get into trouble”.
Strange that this post office had a list of things they couldn’t accept (which didn’t include sheep fleeces) but still insisted I could not send fleeces.
Finally, I simply put a new export label on the parcel with ‘Wool’ took it to the next village post office to me, where after paying the postage, they franked it and tossed over to the collection office for shipment (just like that!!)
Will I export more wool? If it doesn’t take too long to clean the fleeces up, probably ‘yes’. At least I know all I have to do is put ‘Wool’ on the customs label.
Author: Marie Clarke