Hooters Hall

Posts Tagged ‘angora goats’

Hooters Hall 2014

For Hooters Hall 2014 was very much the year of the goat. We expanded our herd of angoras and also added some British Guernseys. We also had our first Hooters Hall born kid little Molly.  Sadly we lost the lovely Sugar (one of our Guernseys) but her daughter Spice is doing well and is hopefully pregnant. Here’s Molly 20 minutes after she was born and a few days later meeting Bran one of our farm cats.

Molly wasn’t the only newborn at Hooters Hall. The ducks managed to successfully hatch some eggs and we now have 10 ducks instead of 2. The new ducklings also have some stylish quiffs.

We had a sucessful lambing with our Jacobs and our Jacob fleece is proving very popular with spinners and fibre artists. Here are some of the 2014 lambs and some pictures of fleece hand processed into rolags for spinning, handspun yarn and a hand knitted scarf. The natural colours of the Jacob fleece make a beautiful fabric.

Our rare breed, 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot sausages and burgers were really popular this year and we sold out really quickly ( we’ll have more in the farm shop around April). To keep up with demand we’ve started breeding our own Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs. We have two sows Beatrice and Eugenie. After a visit from Mr Boar Beatrice had her first litter at the end of October and we’ve just weaned the piglets. Here they are having a nap.

Our plans for 2015 include more fibre craft. We’re going to be experimenting with dying our mohair with natural dyes from British native plants grown at Hooters Hall, selling both the dyed fleece and the dye plants in the farm shop. If Spice the Guernsey is pregnant we’ll hopefully have some interesting fleece from her kid. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a fleece with the golden colour of the Guernsey but fibre quality of the Angora.

There will be more 100% Gloucestershire Old Spot pork sausages and burgers all handmade at Hooters Hall and maybe some hams as well. We made some glazed and smoked ham for ourselves this Christmas and it was delicious.

If Spice the Guernsey does have a kid we’ll also have goat milk and will try making some goats cheese.

We’ve got a bit of a change of direction for the polytunnel planned in 2015. We’ve spent the last few weeks planting a variety of fruit trees and soft fruits and we’ll be adding more grapes as well. As well as lots of delicious fruit I’m planning on using parts of the fruit trees, soft fruit as natural dyes for our mohair.

You can keep up to date with Hooters Hall and see lots of pictures of the goats, pigs, ducklings, horses & chickens on our  facebook page www.facebook.com/HootersHall

You can also find HootersHall on instagram and Twitter.

Shearing the Angoras

Our Angora goats Roy and Moss are about 6 months old now which means it’s time for their first shear. Angora goats are sheared twice a year, usually around September and March. Kids are sheared for the first time when their fleece is at least 10cm which is usually around 6 months of age.

Shearing this time of year means the weather can be a bit chilly so we made sure we had some goat coats ready in case we had a cold snap. You can see a pic of the goat coats on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HootersHall. Fortunately it’s actually been quite warm this weekend so we haven’t needed the goat coats.

Shearing our Jacob sheep was quite tiring but the Angoras are so much easier. We moved the goats into the lean to barn the day before to make sure they were dry. I had to do some cunning shepherds crook work to catch Moss but it wasn’t too difficult and Roy is very easy to catch.

We’ve got some exercise mats that we use for shearing on so we put those in place this morning then slipped a rope halter on each goat, tied them up and got on with the shearing. We sheared with them stood up and they were so good. Roy did initially have a bit of a dance around but soon settled. They both got a bit nervous when I was doing the belly and back end but there was no struggling.

The fleece comes off as locks of mohair rather than the intact fleece you get with sheep. We discarded a few mucky bits from around the tail but the rest was fairly clean. I’ve scoured it and now it’s drying out ready for carding and then spinning. To scour it I put all the locks in a lingerie bag and then soaked them in a bath with hot water and some Aussie know how fibre scour. After a good soak I spin the locks dry in the washing machine then repeat the process.

Here’s our first hooters Hall mohair drying out

  To make things even easier for the next shearing we might build a platform for the goats to stand on so there’s less bending / crouching down.

Here’s some pictures of Roy and Moss showing off their new sort back and sides

Hopefully I’ll get chance to card and spin the Mohair this week. It is possible to spin straight from the locks but I think I’ll find it easier to card first.

Meet the Angoras: Roy & Moss

Now we’ve finally named our Angora goats it seems a good time to introduce them properly. Thank you to everyone who suggested names on our facebook page. We tried out a few and settled on Roy and Moss ( from the IT crowd). Roy is very friendly and happily runs up to you if you’re in the paddock or passing by the gate. Moss is a bit shy and tends to hang back a bit but he’s slowly getting more confident.

Roy and Moss are castrated males which means they’ll put all their energy into fibre production rather than mating. We plan on shearing them ourselves and hand spinning the fleece to make mohair yarn. I might try to dye some as well.

Angora goat fleece has been used to make yarn and clothing since 14th century BC but was only really commercially exploited from around 1550. The fleece of angora goats is known as mohair which is derived from the Arabic word Mukhya meaning ‘ cloth of bright lustrous goat hair.’

For several centruries Angora goats and their fleeces were only available in Turkey following a ban by the Sultan of Turkey on the export of raw fleece and goats. In the mid 19th Century the ban was lifted and small numbers of goats were exporeted to South Africa, Texas and New Zealand.

A small flock of Angora goats was presented to Queen Victoria but they didn’t survive and so the UK flock didn’t get started until 1981 when a few goats were imported from Australia.

We found it quite difficult to find our goats. I contacted the British Angora goat society but eventually got lucky with a search on Preloved. We still had to travel to Essex to get Roy and Moss though.

The first thing anyone says about goats is that they’re great escape artists. Our boys have stuck to the stereotype and are very good at finding any weak spots in the fencing. They don’t go far though, generally they just start grazing on whatever is the other side of the fence. So far catching them and getting them back into the paddock has been quite easy. Generally they’ll either run back they way they got out or if they’re feeling curious just stand still, if you move slowly you can usually grab them.

Angora’s are shorn twice a year, generally in September and April so we plan on doing our boys fairly soon and then I’ll be spinning some lovely Hooters Hall mohair.

Here’s some picture of Roy and Moss. Roy has the number 5 on his ear tags and all the close up shots are of him. Moss is a bit more cautious so I couldn’t get as close with the camera.