Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The goats get nekkid

People usually assume our goats are sheep. This is understandable. Until yesterday they looked like sheep.

Doc, in full sheeplike regalia, indulging in a bit of bark. Donnanoble with her nose to ground.
Doc says, 
Yum, I am a goat.

The full crew left to right: Rosetyler, Marthajones, Donnanoble, Riversong, Doc, Ameliapond.

With summer right around the corner, it was past time for a change. It's hard to find shearers willing to work with goats. In this neck of the woods we've got sheep shearers and alpaca shearers, but not too many goat shearers. I selected a pair of experienced alpaca shearers who were willing to give it a try.  Bless their alpaca-loving hearts. :)

They came yesterday and not a day too soon.

My expectations for these fleeces were low. The crew should have been sheared in the fall, but weren't because of the timing of their arrival at Tyche's Run just as the cold weather arrived, the building of the new barn, my abject inexperience with goats, their complete lack of handling experience, etc., etc., etc.. My bad, all. From what I could see from the outside they were dirty and matted. Goats, charming, but messy.

We began with Riversong. I picked her to lead the way because she is the alpha doe and generally the bravest. I wanted to set the right tone for the rest of the crew. They were all eyes and ears.

The rest of the crew, Um, what's going on here?

Riversong was an excellent role model for the others. Very patient and calm. She needed to be, because she was matted clear down to the skin. The humans were a bit discouraged. She took at least an hour of slow, careful work.

Riversong, I am not a poodle. I am a goat.

To lighten the humans' mood, I put Donnanoble up second. Her fleece is entirely different from Riversong. Lighter, fluffier, and doesn't hold dirt and muck the way some of the others do. I didn't think it was matted.

Donnanoble, Please be gentle. I am not a goat. I am a delicate flower.

Her fleece came off like a cloud (albeit with a bit of flakey skin...).

In the end it took close to five hours to shear six 50lb goats. Not because the goats were difficult -- just because the fleeces weren't in great shape, there was a lot of matting around the legs and delicate parts and it took a fair amount of scissor clipping in addition to the shears.

But we did it! The goats are ready for summer.

And they look like goats! Small ones at that.

Here are some pictures of the raw Pygora fleece. These are quick shots with the iphone. I'll take better pictures if I can get the fleece cleaned up enough to warrant the time. There is alot of work to be done to salvage any of the fleece.  A bit of a Pygora primer:  Pygora fleece comes in three versions, varying along a dimension from mohair-like (Type A) at one end to cashmere-like (Type C) at the other end.  All six of our goats were expected to be Type B, which means some characteristics of each. Even amongst them though there are clear differences from more A-ish to more C-ish.

Ameliapond's A-ish fleece. Solid white, clear locks, lots of luster.

Donnanoble's C-ish fleece. A light off-white color, few distinct locks, slight luster. So soft it's hard to feel on your fingers. 

Riversong's A/B-ish fleece. Dark gray/black, would have had locks I think, but solidly matted/felted. Oy. Oy. Oy. May or may not have luster. Hard to tell. Sorry River. We'll do better next time. 


  1. Too bad you don't live closer to me. My shearer came at 6:45 a.m. and set up, did 14 Shetland ewes, 6 Shetland rams with big curling horns, 2 Angora billies with large horns, and 2 Pygora does and 1 Pygora billy with no horns, put all his equipment back in his truck and was out my driveway by 9 a.m. He unloaded equipment, sheared 25 animals, put everything back in his truck in just over 2 hours. And he helped bag the fleeces. I only had one friend here that helped get animals out of the holding pen for him. My daughter and I were the only other ones here and we moved stock into holding pens and back to their pens after they were sheared.

    1. Gasp. I wish. Do you have pics of your Pygora fleeces? They are new to you too, aren't they? How did they turn out? What kind are they? Burning with curiosity....

      Hey, maybe this guy travels?

  2. At least the goats were cooperative with the shearers. They do look rather nekkid there at the end! ;)

  3. My shearer does travel, from Oregon to Southern California. Look up sheep shearers for your state on the internet, I have found several that way but prefer the one I had come from Oregon, he came for 6 years, could not make it last year so we got one from AZ. AZ shearer was a problem so contacted the one from Oregon, he sent someone else to cover his clients here this year.

  4. There is a lot of nekkidness going on around your place lately. I hope it isn't catching.

  5. Be still my heart! I think I am in love!