baby time!

I mentioned briefly the Angoras in a previous post.  However, I definitely did not do full justice to our 10 beautiful ladies, and one equally handsome gentleman (previously two…) angora goats with a single mention in a paragraph detailing all our animals (domestic and well.. not quite yet domesticated included!).

Bean and I were temporarily banished to our neighbouring country of Swaziland a few months ago (primarily because HA was taking too long to renew my legal existence as a british bird in the bush and my previous permit had expired… instead of offering me a regular extension, we were met with the typical “angaze” * I don’t know* told to hop across the nearest border, and given a highly official looking stamped piece of paper to hand in on return).  Anyway, during this visit, we stayed at the stunningly beautiful Mlilwane wildlife reserve, and on exploring the Malkerns Meander one rainy afternoon, we stumbled upon a small shop selling warm, inviting, soft, fluffy, stunning mohair blankets.  On further investigation, we identified (super-sleuths that we are) that the origin of the beautiful fluffy rugs we were so taken with was a women’s employment project based in a warehouse in a neighbouring village.

After a visit to the project HQ, numerous stops at various shops selling more of these mesmerising products (mmm warm and fluffy on a cold winter’s day in Swaziland….) we stopped for a pit stop at the equally mentionable Malandela’s restaurant (home of “house on fire” *or washa umkhuku* if you prefer the swazi version [which means wash my chicken… ?!!? don’t ask me!]) for some light relief from frozen fingers with a tempting bowl of soup, a glass of red wine and a table next to a warm fire.  After a couple  of additional glasses of wine, the foundations of our Angora project were laid.

On return to South Africa, we located first an electric fencing supplier (boring), poles (equally boring) stables (somewhere in the previously overgrown jungle that was our garden) and finally, ten beautiful female angora goats (well, on purchase, perhaps not quite so beautiful, more tired, travel wearied and hungry!).

After a rather interesting delivery episode, involving ten very noisy ladies chattering at the tops of their voices in the back of a bakkie (open backed truck, small), said bakkie getting stuck (whilst still containing said ladies) on numerous occasions, in holes better described as craters that seemed to appear from nowhere in our newly formed paddock of phenomenally long grass and some quite ungainly pushing and shoving the girls were installed in their new home, munching on grass and oranges and seeming, well, to absolute amateur farmers quite happy all things considered.

The next stage was clearly the naming process, as their characters became more pronounced they all quickly acquired the most ridiculous goat names under the sun: Fatty (shame), Friendly (pretty self-explanatory), Princess (beautiful and spoilt), Pretty (pretty face), Sunflower (ummm), Moonflower (previously sunflower’s twin), Steel Wool (fluff of a similar consistency), Dopey (totally out of it most of the time), Ginny (from Chinny, had a lot of fluff on her chin) and Fluffy (also self-explanatory, usually looks like a messy version of an ET styled goat).

Since then, we acquired a male of the species “Grandad” (in the back of the small car), who quickly began his duty, counting his blessings at being launched into such a role as to service ten such stunning ladies, a second male “Seven Fifty” (what he cost) who wasn’t quite as successful until the death of Grandad after his duty had been quickly (and hopefully successfully) performed, * note – we didn’t play a part in Grandad’s demise, we knew when we bought him that he was on his “last legs” so to speak, and let him live out his final months in style.

So, now we get to today, around 5 months down the line, left with 10 stunning girls and 1 curly male, and so far Princess is showing signs of being pregnant with twins, Fatty and Steel Wool have enlarged udders, and are showing signs of unusual behaviour (all clear indicators that kidding is near) and the others are getting fatter and fatter (can’t always tell who is fatty on some days now…!)

Hopefully, within a few weeks we’ll have doubled the herd… I’ll keep you posted!

Then, the next stage is to figure out how to shear them, spin the fluff, weave the wool… but lets take baby steps here, fingers crossed for safe kidding!

So, in the end, this is the first stage of a highly experimental women’s project: Bean and myself have started to understand a full season of progress with the Angoras, we will start to train women from Scom to care for the goats, weave and spin and make (hopefully) the same beautiful blankets that so took our fancy on our trip across the border.  Eventually, to be provided with the “micro loan” of their own small breeding herd to expand as they wish…….Wish us luck!

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