The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20378   Message #3512433
Posted By: GUEST,guest
06-May-13 - 11:44 PM
Thread Name: Tarry wool (what is it?)
Subject: RE: Tarry wool (what is it?)
Ha--I'm pretty excited as I've just discovered what tarry wool actually is!

Before the days of sheep dips, from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th, it was a known practice in Cumbria to "salve" sheep with a mix of tar and rancid butter. This involved parting the fleece at regular intervals along the animal's side and smearing the mixture onto the skin with one finger. It was done from the middle of October to the middle of November and was supposed to kill off lice, keds, ticks and so on which would otherwise feed on the sheep's skin or suck blood from her.

http://www.fellpony.f9.co.uk/country/anitreat/anitret4.htm

This practice is also mentioned in a couple of other sources, so I'm thinking it's pretty accurate.

One can well imagine that wool smeared with tar and butter would be "ill to spin."