Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life is pretty good!

   Life is pretty good these days!  I'm getting help around here finally.  I am so excited, I can hardly stand it!  I've been wondering how I could get some help around here.  I'd been talking with people down at the Hamilton fiber festival about an organization that has people who work for room and board to learn all about farming.  I've got the "board" but not the room.  Then a week after that conversation, I get an email from a couple that were looking for a place to park their RV while she is teaching school in Kila this year in exchange for helping out around here.  An answer to my prayers!!!  I've been saying I need three of me around here to get everything done, and now here are two people willing and able to work, and they are bringing their own home!  How cool is that!
As you can tell, I'm just a little excited about this. :-)  I'll finally be able to get this place looking like it should.  Thank-you, H and C!
   As for the dehairing business, I have decided to do mainly individual fleeces for people, instead of combined batches.  Since the only piece of equipment I have is the dehairing machine, it doesn't make good economic sense for people to send me their cashmere to dehair, then send it back to them so they have to send it someplace else to be made into yarn.  I want to help the person who will work with it themselves, and only wants it dehaired.  By doing individual fleeces, that gives a marketing edge over the bigger general herd cashmere.  The way more and more people are wanting to know exactly where their purchase is coming from, selling cashmere from individual goats, whether it's cloud, yarn, or finished product, gives that person an advantage in marketing that fiber.  At the Farmers' Market in the last couple of years, I've had quite a few customers ask me if something they were looking at came from a particular animal.  When I said it was a combined effort from the herd, they didn't want it, they wanted it from a specific animal.  
   Since there isn't any way right now that American Cashmere can compete with the foreign stuff price-wise, or quantity-wise, our advantage is marketing it individually.  Plus, I've discovered that just like human hair, cashmere fleece varies a bit from animal to animal, and by dehairing each fleece by itself, it comes out a lot better looking!  More of an even length, uniformity in style, and easier to spin.  I've done a few of my fleeces now, and each one has come out much better than if combined.  Plus, even in goats that are the same color in the guard hair, each fleece comes out a slightly different shade.  And to top it all off, the individual fleeces are smaller, so they get done quicker, and I feel like I accomplished something that day! 
  Yesterday I was looking at my business plan that I wrote up a couple of years ago, and I haven't been following it at all!  Doing individual fleeces has been the plan all along, I haven't been doing that.  That's why I've been feeling out-of-sorts doing larger orders, I'm not in line with the Plan!  So from now on, it's mainly individual fleeces.  I'll still do a few combined fleeces, but I'm concentrating on the individual.  I really think that will give us a definite niche in the American Cashmere market.  There aren't any mills capable of mass-producing the cashmere yarn here in the USA, so smaller niche markets are going to be the way to go.  As knitting and crocheting are becoming more popular all the time, demand for handspun cashmere yarn from a local source will increase as well.  Homegrown, local is the "in" thing now.
  Well, enough marketing for now. :-)  More as it happens....