Anne's Blog

In Umbria, Combing That Cashmere: a CPA Avoided

Date: April 2, 2020 - categories: , - 1 Comment

As he rhthymically combs one of our cashmere goats, Pino’s full concentration certamente wards off any hint of a CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack):

Of our nineteen adult goats, fourteen are cashmere goats, noted for their wool.

The other four goats are camosciate delle Alpi, generous producers of milk……

….. and of a tawny color, similar to that of the Alpine chamois (a species of goat/antelope native to the mountains of Europe).

One of the camosciate nosed in as Pino combed the wool from one of the cashmere goats:

….looking for affection.

Other cashmere goats ignored the combing of their companion, just munching hay:

As the wool piled up….

….. I thought back to our first years of farming in the late 1970’s and my first birthday gift from Pino, a pregnant sheep. I’d named her Sophie:

We had five or six sheep, Appenine breed. Their milk yield was limited but they gave birth to good-sized lambs, sold for meat around Eastertime. Their wool was not particularly prized and although some of our farm women friends did spin the wool and knit the family socks, most used the wool for the stuffing of mattresses, pillows and quilts.

After Pino sheared our sheep in late spring, 1979, I remember washing the wool down in the creek below our house, using riverbed sand to scrub the wool on a rock as my farm women neighbors had taught me – and then spreading it out on a field to dry. Pino later packed the dried wool into a gunny sack and tied it onto the back of my Garelli motorbike.

I bounced down our dirt road on my motorbike, then out to the main road to Assisi, headed to the wool carder. Imagine: in the late 1970’s, no one walked down Via Sermei to head to the Basilica di Santa Chiara as it was often full of mounds of wool. The wool carder lived in that medieval alleyway.

A farm friend, Italia, stitched us a quilt full of that wool after it had been carded.

I remember I had found the material I wanted in a textile shop in Rome’s Jewish ghetto….

We still have Italia’s quilt. It’s now on on a double bed in one of our rental apartments, just under the brown and white Abruzzese bedspread. I took a photo of it today:

Our cashmere wool will certainly not be used to stuff a quilt, pillowcase or mattress: it will be professionally washed and carded as the wool must be separated from the hairs and any debris the goat has picked up

And then, we’ll sell the cashmere.

After lockdown.

For now, it’s in a plastic sack that we’ll keep in our cantina.

Pino combed the wool of three of our cashmere goats today. Eleven more to go.

Read here about Pino’s goat cheese

Click here to read about an adventure with our sheep Sophie

Read here about newborn kids as a coronavirus distraction for us

Read about – and see! – haying for our animals, then and now

Read about a tasty Pino recipe as a coronavirus distraction

Read about Assisi acquaintances now producing protective masks, rather than high-end cashmere.

Read here about a snowy day in Umbria during our coronavirus lockdown

Cook away a possible CPA – with this simple recipe for a buonissima pasta dish

Click here for an easy, tasty recipe

Click here for another easy recipe to ward off CPA

Click here for a recipe of Pino’s mamma, Signora Vincenza (also helps ward off CPA)

Click here  for another “coronavirus lockdown” recipe

Read here about an outdoor market visit to ward off a CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack)

Click here to read about Novella’s vegetable stand during the coronavirus lockdown

Read about how reflecting on Van Gogh helped me see the beauty all around – in simple, insignificant objects

Click here to read about – and see! – a favorite Orvieto eating spot (to ward off CPA)

Read about – and see! – Assisi during coronavirus lockdown

Read about a Pino feast on March 8th as coronavirus distraction 

Click here to read about March 8th – as a coronavirus antidote

Peppa is always perfect distraction from a CPA

1 Comment

  • Janet Eidem says:

    The cashmere fleece looks so silky! Does it have lanolin? I’ve enjoyed this blog post so much it brings back my memories of sheep, shearing, carding and spinning.

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)