Early? Well, I think so.
Acer began shedding on the first of February, which was a full three weeks earlier than last year. And I thought that was early!
He hasn't shed his full undercoat, but enough of it has been falling out that I have been giving him a weekly once-over. The goal is to capture most of the fiber before it ends up decorating fenceposts and stone walls. The bonus for combing early is that there is usually less topcoat/guard hair shedding along with the cashmere undercoat. Nice!
I've been checking the other goats routinely, and have begun lightly combing Vinca, Violet, Azalea and Sambucus, also. Again, they are just beginning to shed, so it is a lot of slow, gentle combing for not a lot of fiber, but my reasoning is two-fold:
1) if I am able to sit and comb a goat on any given day, I had better do it
2) every bit of cashmere harvested now means less to be lost or combed out later.
(To be strictly honest, I am not sure the goats are buying either of those points. But they are definitely enjoying the extra oats and peanuts that come with the process!)
Would you like to see some fiber? I just happen to have some right here.
Some people really favor the whitest possible cashmere, over the other natural colors. This picture of Violet's first combing is for those people:
This is exactly how it came off the goat, and believe me when I tell you: raw cashmere does not come any cleaner than this. If you zoom in (or possibly if you left-click the images?) you can see guard hairs and bits of VM. But for raw fiber, this is a delight.
Good job, Violet!
So...the Cloud Harvest of 2016 is officially underway! It will now go on (and on and on, as Comptonia readers know perhaps all too well) for many weeks. It would be a bit shorter if I had more physical endurance.
It might be a lot shorter if I was less stubborn.
(Doesn't seem likely, though, does it?)
And on we go!