Cashmere is a type, not a breed.
The core of our herd is Cashmere [also know
as Spanish] goats, with a few cross breeds that have been
brought in over the years. There is no such thing as a "purebred"
Our goats are indigenous to the Himalayas where
the altitude is high and the climate is dry. High dry and
cold is their natural environment which is why they do well
in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains.
Temperatures above 30° and 30° below
zero are no problem to the goats as long as it's dry. Other
cashmere goats—Swedish blood for example—cannot
tolerate high heat.
However, high heat or freezing drizzle is potential
death to even our goats because there is no oil or lanolin
in their hair, so the heat goes right through them and in
the freezing rain they could get hypothermia.
My goats are disease free because we live like
Gypsies, move freely from city to city to clean grounds every
night. Disease is more prevelant when herds stay in one place
for extended periods.
Cashmere down growth begins around the longest
day of the year and stops around the shortest day. We comb
and collect their [cashmere] hair when they naturally shed—which
is mid April, if weather cooperates and it's not endlessly
The key to a successful goat eating weeds business
is the rapport that you build with the goats. I give them
what they need.
The herd also understands that we all make a
living together, and that's why we do not tolerate bad behavior,
and they know that.
My goats do amazing things for me that they
won't do for anyone else. One day on business required that
I leave the heard unattended for almost nine hours penned
in on the open range.
I returned to find a big winds had swept the
area, downing a pole, freeing the goats to roam, but they
didn't. They were just standing there waiting for me to return.
It's an understanding we have with each other.
The core of it is they trust me—they trust that I am
not going to sell them for slaughter.
Most people send all neutered males to slaughter
when they are a year old. Much like the cow industry, unless
it's a breeding bull, the neutered ones are dead by 18 months.
Goats—like cows—too are bred for slaughter.
Not so in my business. My herd is 75% neutered
males and the rest females. Billy goats are my main workers.
We have goats of all ages in the herd.
The goats, working in a temporarily fenced-in
area, can mow down about one acre per day. Goats can reach
areas that machines cannot. And they serve other purposes
as they graze—tilling the soil, re-seeding and fertilizing.
Generally, we manage breeding and kidding first
of June or first of September, which is when weeds are plentiful
and feeding is the best. This way we can manage without food
We only breed about 200 nannies at a time because
we're gypsies and on the move all the time. First time mothers
have a single birth. After that they have twins or triplets.
Because we're gypsies we're potentially on contract
265 days a year. Babies are born on the job and are raised
with the herd. They learn to work with the dogs, the fences,
and the people. Work is all they know. They are born in a
work environment and that's all they ever know.
When babies are about three days old they start
eating weeds. Exposure to the local flora as adolescents results
in goats that thrive on the wide variety of forage species,
which they will be expected to consume in their adult lives.
Retired goats are called gummerers when get
old. Gummers get real thin because they cannot eat.
Having worked in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming,
Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah, goats are retire to Twin
Creek Ranch, where they live a peaceful life until they
die. My goats work for about 12 years.