All The Way Home

We had met up with a friend from PA at the HLRS sale. We drove from Kerrville straight through to Potosi, MO. We stopped at the home of Avelene and Jim McCaul – Indian Springs Farm. ISF is home to some fantastic Natural Colored Angoras. We were looking for a tried and true buck to breed to our nannies back home.

The McCauls had a 5 year old buck they were willing to sell. We loaded Boaz onto the trailer with the gang from Texas and after some minor points of goat etiquette were established, set off driving toward home.

On the Next Part of the Journey

There were some things in Texas that you……. well……….just don’t see many other places. Take this wall mounting of an Angora Goat. Here in the Northeast one might see a white tailed deer or a moose in a similar predicament. Not an Angora goat. And certainly not in the hallway of a local hotel.
One of the primary reasons we headed to Texas was to purchase new breeding bloodlines for our registered Angoras. Each July Kerrville Texas is the site of the Haby, Lockhart, Ross and Speck production sale. These four families are some of the oldest in the Angora goat business in Texas.
These billy goats pictured below were in sorting pens at the Speck place in Kerrville.

The sale takes place at the Ag Barn in Kerrville mid-July. Now as far as we’re concerned, July is generally not the time of year us northerners want to be headed into the blast furnace heat of the South. Even though it is a “dry” heat. July 2010 though proved to be hotter and more humid in upstate NY than anywhere we were in the entire state of Texas. Much to our surprise, the Ag Barn was air conditioned ! And a welcomed surprise it was.

We strolled through the Barn looking at some of the nicest Angora goats we’d ever seen.
During our visit to the Speck sorting pens, we had taken some hair samples and did some micron counts on a number of billy goat “prospects”.

When the bidding began, we knew just which goats we wanted and for what reasons — finer hair, longer staple, denser fleece. Sales were brisk and the bidding, at times, intense. We were able to load 5 new bucks and 3 does on the trailer. After a stop at the local vet’s office for the required health paperwork for transport to NY, we hit the road and headed North.

Just about now, with the snow flying outside as I write, I remember fondly, the 90 degree temperatures of Kerrville this past summer.

Our nanny goats are due to start kidding in a week or so. We’ll have to start shearing and getting the barn ready. We have some beautiful alfalfa and second cut grass hay for the feeding. This year’s kids will be the beginning of a number of new genetic lines for us so we wait with anticipation as to what the stork will bring.

61 Days ‘Til Spring

Texas Road Trip Part 2

The landscape in and around the Edwards Plateau in Texas is rocky and rugged. There are windswept canyons and craggy hillsides. The region is commonly referred to as the Texas Hill Country. Angora goats were established in this area of Texas because they were able to survive on range unable to sustain cattle or sheep. These goats are thrifty browsers and soon populated the Edwards Plateau in great numbers.

Many ranches have utilized the native limestone for building structures to house and work goats and other ranch species. This ranch near Boerne is set out in the canyons. The colors of the hills this summer were a verdent green — very unusual for Texas in July. Fortunately for all concerned the Spring and Summer of 2010 had brought with it an exceptionally large amount of rainfall to Texas Hill Country.
Two of our new breeding bucks for the Fall of 2010 came from this ranch where the family raises cattle in addition to Angoras.
More later ….

69 Days ‘Til Spring.

What we did on our Summer “Vacation”

The last time we drove to Texas was 2005. We visited some old friends, made some new ones and brought home two of the best stud bucks in the state.
Fast forward to 2010 and we were in need of some new breeding bloodlines. But this year we had a bit more in the “works”. Dan decided that he wanted to try and gather raw wool fiber from a number of local sheep growers and design a blanket project. The project would involve evaluating and collecting the wool from each producer ; delivering the fiber to a scouring plant in the USA ; trucking the fiber to a New York State processing and weaving mill and finally marketing and selling the blankets. The goal was, and is, to pay local wool producers a better rate for their raw wool, than the average wool pool and all the while keep production of the blanket within the USA. This was a very important aspect as there are some fiber farms and groups that claim to do business in the USA and/or with local producers in their area but somehow feel justified in shipping fiber out of the country to be processed and continue to claim its a local product produced sustainably . Go figure ?
During the months of March, April, May and June we traveled around to local wool growers and collected wool. In late June we packed the trailer full of 1200 pounds of wool and 2000 pounds of raw mohair. The wool was headed to a scouring plant along our route and the mohair was making the long trip all the way to Texas with us.

Why take mohair to Texas ? Well, Texas is THE mohair capital of the USA. There are more Angora goats in the state of Texas than any other state in the Union. Consequently a system of warehouses for collecting, storing and brokering sales of mohair developed. We took those portions of our fleece that we do not generally use for roving or yarn to the warehouse to be sold.

The warehouses are very large and hold many producers clips of mohair. Local and foreign buyers travel to Texas to buy large quantities of natural fibers for their businesses. Having the raw fiber located in central locations within the state makes it easier –otherwise buyers would have to visit individual producers who may be located hundreds of miles apart in distance.

The fiber is then made into garments, rugs and home accessories … blankets !

We’ll post part 2 of our journey later in the week.
Until then…..

75 Days ‘Til Spring !