This week, held on the opposing banks of the Cannon River from the Mill, marks the 139th Rice County Fair.
We ventured over today and stumbled upon an early 20th century sheep shearer and clippers once owned by local farmers but had since been donated to the Rice County Historical Society.
Unlike the flexible shaft models, The Stewart Chicago Clipper uses jointed geared shafts. Two workers were required to operate the machine – one to crank and one to shear.
The shears were state of the art at the time and said to have sheared wool that would have most likely been woven here at the Mill.
A main initiative since the Mill’s reopening last year has been identifying and developing ways in the process to maximize efficiency and minimize waste. Dyeing, specifically, has been a part of the Faribault Woolen Mill manufacturing sequence since its beginnings over a century ago and the kettles currently used (shown below with Dan) were installed during the 1950’s.
These kettles have now been transformed to utilize the river’s water by cleaning/filtering it after being used,
storing it for re-use in insulated tank systems,
or distributing it for use in other parts of the facility.
These improvements, and many others, help to create an overall healthier and more effective operation as well as prove that a building and process over 100 years old can still run with the best of them given the right approach and attention to detail.