Faithful reader and goat lover, the lovely 8-year-old LuccaBella in Italy has written to me to ask:
Can you shave goats hair? Because lambs you can shave hair & you can make clothes & cotton. Can you do that with goats?
This is an *excellent* question, and something I bet many people don’t know about . . . because cashmere (that oh-so-soft, wonderfully warm sweater and sock material) actually comes for goats. The cashmere goat, in fact.
Yes, cashmere wool comes from the soft, fluffy, fine-haired undercoat of these gorgeous goats:
As many of you probably know, cashmere wool products will keep you super warm and cozy throughout the winter, which is exactly why these goats have their coats. Cashmere goats tend to live in cold, often mountainous climates and begin moulting (losing their hair) in the spring as they’ll no longer need that undercoat to keep warm throughout the summer.
And that’s where cashmere producers come in.
The cashmere from goats may be gathered by combing through or shearing the hair. In order to collect what will become cashmere for clothes and other fabrics, the fine hair of the undercoat must be separated from the coarser hair of the outer coating (called guard hair). The guard hair may be used for brushes and other non-clothing items.
In fact, LuccaBella, you and your Mamma might be interested to learn more about Chianti Cashmere run by American expat Nora Kravis (who has given me great advice on finding goat minerals) — not too far from where you live. Nora offers handwoven products, and her farm prides itself in leaving “no carbon hoofprint” with its Sustainable Cashmere® movement.
Now, if you’re wondering whether Pasqualina and Pinta produce wool for clothes, the answer is no. They just aren’t that type of goat, and in fact, they both have quite fine hair. Here in Calabria, our dairy goats (like Pasqualina) don’t tend to have very thick hair because they don’t need it as temperatures don’t drop below freezing very often in the winter. That said, some of the other breeds of goats around here do have thicker hair (you may remember Carmelina for instance), but even they are not shaved for wool — they just aren’t that kind of goat either.
Thanks so much for the question — I hope my answer helped clear it up!
By the way, for answers to many goat questions, check out The Maaaaa of Pricilla’s excellent “goatucation” series.
The other day I got a message from Goat Berries readers Heidi and Paul, who have just started keeping goats. Check out how cute their Nubian and La Mancha are!
Heidi and Paul have purchased a PolyDome for shelter because they had heard how great they were for warmth and ventilation, and this is where their question comes in:
“However, since it was delivered (we ordered it over the internet), we have had someone tell us that it is horrible to keep the girls in. They said it won’t keep them warm. Now that we can see it firsthand, we are confused about how to keep good ventilation and yet keep them free from drafts. Any thoughts on this issue?”
I personally don’t know very much about PolyDomes as I don’t think they’re popular in Italy (at least I’ve never seen them used or for sale), but I did some quick Google searching, and came up with some examples of people using PolyDomes for goats without problems (one person wrote he put plastic flap doors on the front). I also found that one particular PolyDome for calves comes with a ventilation system that you can adjust with the weather.
But I’m not sure this helps Heidi and Paul very much, so I’m looking to you, experienced goat caretakers — do you know anything about PolyDomes and how good they are for keeping goats warm? Please feel free to pass around the question among goat circles you know . . . inquiring minds want to know!
Any and all information is greatly appreciated!
Heifer International is a wonderful organization that strives to end world hunger with charity gifts for for sustainability and self-reliance.Read on...
No, Pasqualina and Pinta aren’t the latest goat film stars — I just wanted to let you know about a 24/7 goat cam over at Goats Live.
There you can check out Nick and Molly, two mini-Saanens, who have been viewed over 50,000 times from 87 countries around the world. There are actually two cameras on them, so you’re sure to capture all the action.
You may also catch a glimpse of humans Debbie, a former TV personality in the Tampa Bay area; her husband Sparrow, a former broadcast engineer now retired because of multiple sclerosis; and their adult son Hilary who has autism. Debbie and Sparrow are both retired, and aside from their goat hobby, also dabble in ham radio.
Anyone who has watched goats for even five minutes knows just how much fun it can be to see them in action, so this is especially great for those of you who don’t have goats of your own — yet.
Yes, yet. I firmly believe there are two kinds of people in this world: goat caretakers and future goat caretakers. Their powers are just too strong to resist forever.
The other day my mom said to me, “Oh, a calendar arrived in the mail . . . it’s . . . um . . . all goats.”
Nana didn’t know about the 2011 Nanny Goats in Panties calendar, you see, and she most certainly didn’t know that if she flipped to her birthday month of April, she’d find her grandgoatbaby staring back at her.
That’s right! Pasqualina the pin-up goat is one of the caprine creatures featured in Margaret’s Nanny Goats in Panties 2011 Calendar:
If you follow some goat sites, you’ll see lots of familiar, adorable faces. Each photo is so ridiculously cute — if you don’t have goats now, tread carefully. This could send you over the edge.
Thanks so much Margaret of NGIP for putting this together!
Click on the calendar above or go directly to the Nanny Goats in Panties 2011 Calendar to order now!
We’ve talked about goats cleaning up the Vanderbilt Estate and also about some hardworking Goat Busters in Virginia, and now Stephen Colbert has caught on to the trend. Check out this *hilarious* report on those who have “gone goat”:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|People Destroying America- Goats Steal Landscaping Jobs|
And yes, goat berries (the real thing, not this site) play quite a role in the story!
This isn’t the first time Colbert has singled out goats on his show, either. Back when the George Clooney film The Men Who Stare at Goats was coming out, he did another ridiculously funny bit about the power of the goat:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Goat Lab – Jon Ronson|
It certainly seems like Colbert has a soft spot in his heart for goaties…and who could blame him? Come to the other side Stephen . . . the pasture is fine!