Monday, December 09, 2013


I can't remember how I first learned about pygoras, but it was about 10 years ago, shortly after successfully graduating from veterinary school without learning much about goat medicine other than "goats are not sheep." However, I had been learning about goats as fiber animals and was experimenting with kid mohair. I loved the brightness and the curl, but mohair gets coarser as the angora goat ages so only the first two clippings felt soft enough to me. I was thrilled to find out about pygoras, a breed developed by crossing angora goats (which produce mohair) with pygmy goats (which like most goats, produce a small amount of cashmere). The resulting goats had variable fleeces. They could be curly and shiny like mohair but remain soft throughout the animal's life. They could be fine and soft enough to be considered cashmere. Or they could be somewhere in between. Pygoras sounded like the perfect pet to me, not too big, not too small, and very fluffy.

Of course, living in town, I couldn't have goats, so I resorted to raising silkworms which are not really like goats at all, but they are fiber producing creatures suitable for raising in a shared house in the middle of town.

A little over a year ago, my friend Kelly said there was a pasture available next to her place right outside of town. I was trying to buy a house at the time, so couldn't take on another project, but this fall when I was irresponsibly browsing craigslist looking for a grand piano, I somehow found a trio of pygoras instead. One thing led to another and next thing we knew, we were proud goat owners!

The pasture had been used for horses a long time ago, so the fence was in disrepair. Our friends Christy and John showed up with a truck on our first work day which was a lifesaver in getting wood to replace the missing fenceboards. To goat proof the wooden fence, we first tried chicken wire, but there were concerns over its sturdiness, so Kelly and Ben replaced it with welded wire.

We're eventually going to have a larger shelter for the goats and horse (when Kelly gets a horse) combined with hay storage and tack room, but in the meantime, Charlie and I set to work on a little temporary goat house. 

We decided to use discarded doors from the local door shop for our walls.

I drew my plans out on Sketch-Up and it looked pretty good to me:

So we put it together:

 And it looked just like the plans, except in real life it seemed a little...large.

It kind of dwarfed Kelly's little house and was overly visible from the road. Since we wanted a house just for the goats so they could have a place of their own away from the horse, we took it apart and remade it smaller (and put it in the back of the pasture).

We painted it in nice neutral tones...

and Charlie talked me through putting on the roof.

And here are the new goats!

Forty Niner


Forty Niner loves the ladies.

Forty Niner is very friendly and loves to be scratched and really really loves treats. The girls are a little more shy but warming up quickly. They've very sweet with each other.

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