Thursday, September 21, 2006

This will very likely earn me a one way ticket to Hell...

...but I have to ask it.

What if?

Just what if there was a...


A mistake in the translation?

What if the crowd didn't say "Crucify him!" at all?

What if they said...


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I know, I know. I'm going to Hell.

Friday, September 15, 2006

There's More Than One Way to Skin A Cat

At least that's what they say.

Fourtunately for me, I have never had to test that theory as the method I use has always worked well for me.

Kidding. I'm kidding.

Not funny? Well, let's move on then.

Anyway, the reason I start off with that age old axiom is that I am guessing the saying has it's roots somewhere in reality - most likely Asian cuisine. (Ah, young must first know the mind of the feline.)

Which gives me reason to hope. For if there is more than one way to skin a cat, it stands to reason that there must also be more than one way to shear a goat.

Because if the way I used is the only way...well...

...anyone want to buy an angora goat?


Ok, fine.

So, you might ask, "What is the method you used?"

Well, I guess technically speaking, it's called the Figure 4 Leg Lock.

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(I would be the one in yellow.)

So, on one of the past bright suuny days - you know, the one where you might have been having a picnic or enjoying a nice hike in the woods or something - I was splayed out on a tarp with a black kid goat and a pair of scissors.

Yes, I said scissors.

Why didn't I use electric shears? Oh, like the ones they use at the county fair during the sheep shearing demonstration?

That's easy. $300.

Any other smart-aleky questions?

Three hours, if you must know.

Yes, it was woman against goat, on the mat for three hours straight. On the bright side, there were only three pooping incidents. I will not divulge the score on that.


In the end, it all turned out fine. The goat - by the way, her name is Rhubarb - was happy to be rid of her dense coat. I was happy to have a nice, black kid mohair fleece which, I am told, is highly prized by handspinners. And my chiropractor is very happy as I will be putting her child through college this year.

See? Everyone is happy.

So then what?

Well, according to internet sources (translated: because I have no idea what I am doing ), the next thing is to try to rid the fleece of vegetation. You know, stick, leaves, trees... So I spent the next 6 years picking through the fleece.

Let me pause here for a bit of advice to prospective goat owners. Clearing brush = meat goats. Mowing lawn = fleece goats.

moving right along...

After the fleece has been cleaned of vegetative matter (fiber craft lingo), you can either wash it yourself or bring it to a mill where they will wash and then process it to whatever state you wish. Not state as in New Jersey or Schuylkill County. State as in roving, batts, or yarn - all lingo of the fiber craft which I am still kind of learning so I will not try to explain here.

I am still trying to find a mill in the general area (northeast US) that will take a small quantity. As it turns out, people actually do this for a living and tend to have many, many pounds of fiber to process. Who would have guessed? They must be the people who buy the electric shears. Or slaves. Or 4H kids.

Note to self: stop at the feedstore and ask where I can buy some 4H kids.

In the mean time, I decided I would try to wash a little bit myself and see what happened. The first thing you have to do is soak it in hot water for 30-60 minutes. Goats have a greasy coat and the first step is to release most of the grease.

Boy, did it ever. I had no idea how greasy it was.

Next, you start the soaking/washing process. You basically just let it sit in hot water with mild detergent for awhile, squeeze it out and then do it again. The internet sources all caution against agitating the fleece in the water OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE FELT!!!!!!!

Hello? What? Felt?

Like from grade school?


I still have no idea. Fortunately, I don't think I felted my fleece.

For a felted fleece forbids fortune from finicky fabric fanciers.

hee, hee, hee

Then you have to move somewhere where there is sun for at least two days in a row, like Arizona. Or, if you can't move out of Pennsylvania, take a screen out of your window, spread the fleece on it and rig it up over a dehumidifier. For 6 more years.

When it is was all done, I had a pile of black mohair that - and I'm not bragging here or anything - is some of the silkiest stuff I've ever felt.

Didn't felt.

I didn't felt it!

I've ever touched.

Man, you really have to watch what you say when you are a fiber producer.

And that, folks, is what I am. I am now a fiber producer. Because we are now on our way on to becoming a legitimate farm. I know - one goat, big deal - but if I may end this with another tidbit of ancient wisdom...

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Tru dat!

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