Saturday, March 7, 2009


Cashmere combing season

The Farm Boss followed up an earlier e-mail with a phone call this week about combing. Clever lady, she called when the power was out and I was unable to screen my calls. Ha.

The saplings and I had already discussed what the modus operandi would be if I should have to go back to the farm. But I told Boss when she called that I would have to discuss it with them and would call her back later that day. The saplings were gung ho with the plan-it was myself who had reservations, so I delayed calling Boss back until this am. Today was to be the warmest of the week, and I told myself if I awoke without the alarm clock I would ring her at 7.

Dang my internal clock! I awoke bright and early, and rolled over and caught another hour of sleep-still plenty of time to ring her-so I did and agreed to work this am.

Since I am homeschooling this year, Boss offerred both kids could come with me, but we had agreed that the Firebird would stay home working on schoolwork, and the Willow would come with me. The Firebird is the strong man on chores, but doesn't comb. Willow is fully versed on animal talk and loves to comb.

The Firebird, true to his middle name, is also a nightowl, so I expected him to sleep in as usual. Nope, he rolled downstairs just as I was finishing our own goat chores and was readying to leave.

That saved leaving a note, so I gave him instructions and the Willow and I headed out. Four dirt roads and two stretches of tar, and we arrived at the farm. The old Great Pyranees, Balloo, came right up to me wagging his tail, and the ancient wether, Ali Goatee, right behind. Much to Ali Goatee's delight, I gave him the last bit of raisin bread toast I had in my hand. He wasn't letting me out of his sight for the next two hours!

Willow tucked right in on combing with me on Sugreca. I thought we would start with the worst, since Sugreca was a nightmare for me last year, climbing the walls on her chain, and P told me that she was bad for the boys already this year. Willow pre-empted me, and went up to Sugreca and spoke softly and caressed her cheeks, and that goat was very easy to comb!

After a bit, we gave Sugreca a break and I picked one of two yearlings, Buffy's girl, Bella. I thought she would be wild, and again Willow wove her magic to such a degree that I left her solo with Bella and went back to work on Sugreca.

Willow worked right along, and eventually Boss moved in with Lois from the next stall. Willow couldn't wait to show Boss how much cashmere she had combed off Bella and Boss checked it out. Willow later confided in me that she thought Boss was pleased how nicely combed the cashmere was, and not all balled up. We have been working on her technique at home.

There was a couple of hay deliveries, and I released Sugreca and started in on Beatrice. Willow hunted down her lunchbag with her hot cocoa out of the tack room, and then was promptly confronted by the pig, Laverne, in the aisleway. Well, that was pretty funny, I guess. Laverne is a really rare breed of pig-Boss couldn't find her a replacement mate-she is old and black colored. I used to give her treats like leftover sandwich crusts.

Well, Laverne stood in front of Willow sniffing that lunchpack and Willow's pockets and was snorting and gurgling...(actually I wondered if she might eat Willow-hahaha) Finally, Willow made her way byLaverne and into our stall and then Ali Goatee thought hot cocoa sounded Willow went back to the tack room with the Old farm dog and a farm cat for company.

Boss and I caught up with who was gone-Uud, Sheba, Daisy-old does recently gone to slaughter, and all old friends to me. Bucks-Gingerman found dead a few months ago, Nishak gone to slaughter, Hjalmar off for breeding.

Boss did have a buck lined up for combing-Mauro. So we headed over to Prescott and I had a chance to see my old buck friends. Some seemed to remember me. Leif, Chrissie, of course, Duke, Prince. Chrissie took such a shine to Willow he kept rubbing his face on her stomach while she kept her hands firmaly in her pockets. LOL. Bucks have an ODOR.

I give in and give them neck and cheek scratches. Awww.

Willow and I helped clean, and I helped collar, and then Willow helped put all their dishes out-feeding time at the zoo-what kid wouldn't want to help? Then, she helped pick up all the dishes, calling all the bucks by name already. I think R was glad of the help today.

Willow did complain a bit at the end-Boss referred to it today as the "bitter end" with the bucks being last on the list, and we were late getting there. Willow said Mauro was being difficult and she had to hold his head to comb behind his horns. What she didn't realize is that he was being good for a buck! Sometimes one person has to jam one of their horns into the fence and then hang onto their head and the second person combs or does hooves...

Right at the end, R came up to watch and Mauro butted him hard right in the kneecap! I guess he had to take it out on someone!!

All in all we had a fun morning. I was paid very well, with the expectation that I will tip Willow out for her terrific assistence. We all need the cash (she is saving for a new bike) so hopefully we will have a few more mornings of work ahead of us.

This week the weather just didn't cooperate for combing at the farm. I spent one late morning combing my own goats this week, when the sun had warmed things up enough to work without gloves.

The temps were supposed to be in the 40's today, so Boss agreed for Willow and I to go in to comb. Two nights this week I have slept poorly, waking up every hour on the hour after midnight. Just long enough to roll over and check the time, but still, disturbed rest. Well, last night was the second night.

So, I am exhausted! We started off with little Beatrice again, and then moved up to the bucklings on the hill. I just love the bucklings! They are so cute! We combed Ursula's boy, and then I moved in on Bonnie's boy, whom Boss was combing, but she stepped away for a minute and I took him over.

Then we came down off the hill, and still the weekend boys were not ready to go to Prescott, so we combed a wether, Carlos. He was losing guard hair, so we didn't get much cashmere off of him. I was getting hungry and tired and needed some coffee and a smoke so I chatted quite a bit with P, who had also come in to comb. I kept looking out, waiting for the cue to go to the big bucks. Finally we left after 11. :(

I thought Willow and I were going to work on Chrissie, but when we arrived, Boss said Leif looked worse. Ugh. Leif got me in the eye socket with a horn tip last year. One of his horns is broken off quite short, but the other one really sticks out there. Everytime he flipped around to that side, I put a hand on the tip of his horn so I knew where it was. That made slow combing, since I need that hand to hold up the guard hair to get the cashmere beneath.

Whent he boys were finished, I agreed to give Boss a lift back to the farm so she could hold Leif in the meantime. She hung onto his horns, but had some trouble holding him still.

We got quite a bit of nice cashmere off him in a short time. His long wirey guard hair is very sticky, so I was using a lot of force with the slicker to tease the cashmere out. And after working on two bucklings, my arms are tired!!!

We found out today that Ali Goatee was put down this week! :(( He was quite old and Boss found him down back unable to rise, and had one of the boys father's come over and shoot him. Willow was near tears at the news. We enjoyed hanging out with Ali Goatee last week.

The sun is really melting a lot of snow out there right now. I should be out combing my own goats, but I am wiped! Peko is sleeping on my bed in the sun, and I think I might join him for a siesta.

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