I am on my knees beside a half-wild 150-pound goat plucking the cashmere from his hide. With my pronged comb, I coax the mix of fluff and strands, tugging the silky lengths, rolling it like cotton candy. Eventually a clump pulls free, I admire it and tell Sage how gorgeous he is, then drop the exquisite puff into a 5-gallon bucket.
This is the preferred method for cashmere Pygoras, so as not to mix the shorter and courser guard hairs into the fine silvery cashmere. Sage loves it.
And I love his musky smell, his curling lips, and his long straight beard. I love his little bushy tail that gives away his feelings just like a dog’s, and I love his hooves, which are small, round pegs that trot and prance and are so strong they can grip the side of a mountain like pliers.
Sage points to an itchy spot on his back with his horn tip, and I stroke it with the comb. The skin is dry but there are no lice at all, the scourge of goats. We watch that closely. Sage rolls his eyes with pleasure.
Pearl stands patiently with LaLa waiting her turn. She is shedding a bit later than her brother Sage. Her fleece is pure white, Sage’s is tan, and LaLa is black mohair. His fleece is clumpier and more matted and doesn’t brush, so the Bearded One successfully introduced him to little scissors this week.
Goats are one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet, I think as I bury my hands in the now full, 5-gallon bucket of raw cashmere fleece. Two weeks’ worth.
Then I stand, pick up the bucket, and trudge down the hill from the barn, past the hoophouse where cabbages and broccoli desperately cry out to be transplanted,
and up to the house where the next step looms. Literally. I want to learn to card and spin. To use a loom. I’m sure I do. I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now.
I clean my boots with the hose and carry the bucket inside and upstairs to the work table where I have everything set up. Here is the fleece. Here are the carding brushes on this nice flowery tablecloth. Here is the computer with a You Tube “How To Card Fleece” video ready to go. And I am frozen. I can’t do it.
Who is making me turn this fleece into yarn, anyway? I look around and see no one. The Bearded One is outside working on the roof of the meat bird pen. Sixty Cornish Rock chicks — meat birds — will arrive at the post office in two weeks, and we are getting ready. Or at least he is.
Then I have a deja vu moment. I ran into this same wall last year, didn’t I? I keep doing this to myself of my own free will, which is kind of insane. I’m the same person I was last year, and I still don’t want to card and spin. Maybe I really don’t have to.
I turn to the computer and close the video without ever having opened it. And then I type an email to a Seattle spinner who expressed a lot of interest in the fleece a month ago, and who even offered to pay for some of it, especially Pearl’s. But money is complicated and I’m not a fan. Instead, I plead with her now to just take all of it. I attach a picture of the fleece so she’ll know what she’s getting into.
Within a half hour she squeals with delight through cyber space, “EEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! YES! That would be lovely! It looks wonderful, and I promise to give it TONS of love! Thank you so much! I’ll be sure to send updates on what I make with it! I can’t wait to see what it wants to be!”
I read her response and I, too, squeal with joy, and I am happily stuffing the gigantic pile of fleece into a box to mail when the Bearded One comes in.
“It’s like an entire goat!” he says, smiling.
I need to explain. “I literally set the table,” I say, gesturing upstairs. “I’ve nurtured these goats all year and you’ve patiently trained them to be brushed. I’m not lazy, but it’s time to card and spin and I keep putting it off. You’ve seen me.”
He nods. His eyes show that he is really laughing inside, but I don’t care. I am at epiphany here.
“There is someone right for every task in the universe,” I say. I look at the Bearded One, then point with my eyes to the itchy place on my back. Scratch me.
“You are the Goat Grower,” he says. “Not the Weaver.”
I laugh out loud with delight and relief — he knows me so dang well — and trot back to finish boxing up the fleece for Seattle.