Friday, April 24, 2015
From the Source Friday: Laughing Goat Fiber
The fourth Friday of every month is From the Source Friday! Show your appreciation to these dedicated fiber farmers as they teach you all about where your yarn comes from. Today we will hear all about life alongside goats (and more!) from Laughing Goat Fiber.
Life on the farm...
A typical day on the farm starts early in the morning, with the animals being fed and watered. We generally have anywhere from 60-90 animals, depending on the time of year. In cold months, the animals need grain and hay to stay warm and well-fed. When they are out on pasture, we provide water and a little grain. The animals are fed again in the evening. Daily tasks vary, but might include administering vaccinations, delousing, or trimming hooves.
Our angora goats are generally shorn twice yearly, in the spring and early fall. That gorgeous mohair fiber is “skirted” by hand - debris and dirty/damaged parts of the fleece are picked out - before being delivered to an area mill for processing. Alpacas are shorn once a year, like sheep. The cashmere goats are combed, and produce only ounces of fiber, in contrast to the pounds that might be yielded by a single angora goat.
We use local and regional mills to process the fiber into one of two forms: roving, and yarn. Some yarn is processed further and made into finished products: gloves, mittens, and socks. The rest of the yarn is measured into skeins. This, and the finished goods, are then dyed by hand using food coloring. Vinegar sets the dye, and a cold rinse and spin in the washing machine finalizes the process. To create variegated yarns, we “paint” the skeins by hand.
A Goat Story
One of our most incredible stories happened last spring: we were eagerly awaiting the birth of a set of multiples from one of our angora mothers, Carli. She delivered a little buckling in the middle of the night (which we heard on the baby monitor). Lisa stayed with her for a while, and felt another baby still in the womb, but was concerned that it had died, as more time passed and labor seemed to stop. Fourteen hours later, while tending to other mothers and kids, we saw Carli deliver what we expected to be the stillborn twin. He was alive! Lisa turned to get a towel to clean him up, and by the time she had turned back around, Carli had delivered a THIRD little boy - ALSO alive! Triplets are exciting enough, but we’ve never had such a miraculous - and weird - delivery. Those little boys were named Floyd, Dr. Teeth, and Animal - for the Muppets’ Electric Mayhem Band, of course. Floyd, the oldest of the three, was also the smallest, and needed to be bottle-fed after a while. He’s now one of our friendliest, cuddliest fellas!
Have a look!
Just look at that little goat in the sweater! So presh! Thank you for the lovely fiber, goats! If you'd like to know more about Laughing Goat Fiber, you can visit their website, Etsy, Facebook, and YouTube. Thanks go out to the folks at Laughing Goat for sharing about their animals!