About St. Mary's on-the-Hill Cashmere
The Sisters of St. Mary began raising cashmere goats in 2004, shortly after moving to their new home on 100+ acres of mixed woods and farmland in Easton, New York. Their goats have included five Grand Champion does and two Grand Champion bucks, awarded at the annual New England Cashmere Goat Association Show in Tunbridge, Vermont.
The Sisters began with a foundation herd of black goats donated by the Monastery of the Holy Myrrhbearers in Otego, NY. Over the years the farm has hired or acquired sire stock from Roca Farm in New Hampshire, Black Locust Farm in Washington, Maine, Springtide Cashmere in Bremen, Maine, Stone Harvest Farm in Petersham, MA, and East Meets West Family Farm in Richford, VT, improving their line and adding new color to their baseline. Our herd is now an eclectic mix of white, silver and salt-and-pepper goats, with a mix of short and long guard hair.
St. Mary's on-the-Hill goats produce long-staple, premium cashmere, with an average of 14.5 to 16 micron diameter and 2+ fiber length. Because of the staple length, the Sisters' goats produce good commercial volumes of cashmere, averaging 8 to as high as 15 ounces in raw, dirty fiber each season. Blended yarn and roving (brown, taupe, white-with-color and white) from the current year go on sale at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival each autumn and are available at the farm afterwards. Limited pelts are also available in the fall.
North American Cashmere Goats
Cashmere goats are one of two principal types of fiber-bearing goats. Their more common counterpart is the mohair-producing Angora goat, which produces a long glossy hair fleece, desirable for its luster and strength. Ironically Mohair goats are one of the few breeds that do not ordinarily produce a secondary down (unless crossed with cashmere breeds -- the "cashgora" goat.)
Cashmere is a secondary down fiber which functions as a next-to-the skin insulator in goats acclimated to extremely cold climates. Most goats produce some form of secondary down which may or may not be long enough, fine enough or crimpy enough to meet international standards for the fine cashmere in textiles. Hence goats may produce a secondary down fiber and NOT be considered cashmere goats.
Standards which define cashmere are delineated by the textile industry and set in breed standards which meet internationally recognised benchmarks. Sister Mary Elizabeth sits on the Board of Directors for the Cashmere Goat Association which has been working to establish the North American Cashmere goat as a recognised breed in the the U.S.
To be continued...