Spring. The time of renewal, hope, and . . . birth! Of kids!
We purchase cashmere fiber from shepherds in the Chong Alai region of southern Kyrgyzstan. In this high mountain region, goats give birth once a year – preferably in spring, when there is more food for grazing and time for the kids to grow before going to jailoo – the high mountain pastures where shepherds live in yurts and graze their animals until fall.
If all goes well, birthing takes about an hour. If there are twins, the babies are small and birthing is easier. If the kids are large, the mother may have difficulty and shepherds may have to help the birthing process by pulling on the kid. Barley and grains are added to the goats’ grass feed to give mothers more protein to nurse their kids, who, incidentally, only take milk from their mothers. If a kid tries to milk from any other goat, it will get kicked away.
In early spring, shepherds take the herds to the fields around their village to feed for the day. The kids, however, will be kept at home for a month before joining their mothers in daily grazing. By June, the kids are ready to head to the mountain pastures. Kids will continue to take milk through the summer, but it lessens. When the mothers get pregnant again, they stop producing milk, finishing the weaning process.
Kids born in the spring grow during the summer. They develop cashmere over their first winter that naturally molts off the following spring, providing the shepherds with great cashmere fiber to sell. Ultimately, the fiber is spun into our cashmere yarn line awaiting your creative endeavors. Oh what will you make with this beautiful yarn?
-Until next time, Amy