The Kids have started popping out! The dairy goats are going first. Dottie had twin boys on Thursday morning around 5:30. Then Speckles had hers yesterday morning around 7. I totally missed that birth! I was out there at 6:30 checking on her, she didn't look like anything was going to happen anytime soon, so I went back to bed. Went out at 8 and here were two kids up and cleaned off and nursing already. Speckles must have had them shortly after I came back in. The only time I've seen her have her kids is when she was having a hard time getting them out, so she had them when I was there to help. Goats really do know when they are going to need some help, and when they can handle things themselves.
So now there are four kids, 3 boys and only one girl. i suppose I should use correct terminology and say 3 bucklings and one doeling. Now I'm waiting for Belle and Brownie to have theirs. So far they are just laying around looking ready to pop, but not doing anything. Belle I'm not too worried about, she's an old pro at kidding, but this will be Brownie's first time, so I want to be there to make sure she takes care of the kid(s) and doesn't have any problems having it.
I'm over half-way done with the combing of the cashmere goats now. There are 18 left to do. I was going to comb all afternoon today, but it started raining/snowing, so the ones that I was going to comb got wet. Since they still have all their fleece, they stand out in the precip while the ones that have been combed head for shelter. I might get in one or two combings if the rain stops pretty soon. Colin and Heidi have been helping to comb. They are getting pretty good at it. It goes much faster when there is a person on each side of the goat combing at the same time. The goat doesn't move around as much either, they aren't sure which way to go. ☺ I'm getting a good yield off everyone this year. Lots of cashmere to play with! I'll have more shares to sell than I was figuring on earlier. I think I'll offer some half-shares, too.
I've decided to go back to dehairing batches of cashmere for people instead of just individual fleeces. I'd rather do the individual ones, but so many have asked me to do batches, that I'll go back to that, too. Only 3 pounds at a time, though. The dehairing process is so slow that if a huge amount arrives at once, it just overwhelms me and I get disheartened. 3 pounds I can handle, it takes almost a week to get that done. I want to do the best job possible and return the fiber as guard hair free as I can, so that takes a lot of time. I do love doing it. I have the best job, being up to my elbows in pure luxury every day. I haven't run into any "bad" cashmere yet. It's all been of a good quality. Some has been better prepared than others, but after it's through the machine, it's all looking pretty nice. I've seen a good cross section of North American Cashmere now, and overall I think we have cashmere that is as good as and better than most foreign cashmere. Yea team!!
I think the only way it's going to really pay though is for regional groups of cashmere producers to get together and buy their own dehairing machines. Lots of mills can spin it, but very few can dehair it and do a good job. The dehairing is the slowest part of the process and makes the least amount of money for a mill. But if cashmere producers pooled their resources and went together and got dehairing machines, then that would speed up the whole deal. The machines don't take up a huge amount of space, I have mine in a 9 x 16 foot room and there is enough room to move around it and run it properly. They aren't hard to operate, you just have to be able to figure out what speed to run it for each fleece. No two fleeces go through at the same speed! The fineness and length of each fleece determine what the speed will be. It's actually an interesting process to do.
Well, now that I've written a book, practically, I guess I'll go out and check on the goats again and see if anything is happening. I'll post pictures of the kids after they are all born....